For enterprises hoping to stay competitive, the term "mobile workforce" isn't just a buzzword but a necessary reality. Gone are the days when tethering workers to their on-site workstations for a standard 9-5 shift was enough. These days, team members need to be available and the data they use to work accessible no matter where the employees are or what day of the week or time of day it is. Here are three trends driving the mobile workforce movement.
1. Software as a Service (SaaS) and cloud computing
When it comes to liberating employees from their corporate workstations, few technology trends can match the power of Software as a Service (SaaS) and cloud computing in general. In order for a mobile workforce to stay productive, workers need reliable access to applications and data on an anywhere, anytime, any device basis. SaaS and cloud computing provide that access thanks to the very nature of the technology. Since applications and data aren't hosted locally on the client side, but rather on the service provider side, availability isn't location- or network-dependent, and the best of the SaaS and cloud computing providers have worked hard to ensure maximum device compatibility with their apps.
There are some security and compliance concerns around SaaS and cloud computing in the enterprise, but solutions exist to address those concerns. Enterprises who adopt SaaS and cloud computing reap the benefits of both infrastructure cost savings and improved employee productivity.
2. Tablet computing
Strictly speaking, mobile computing isn't a very new thing. In fact, it has been around since the advent of cell phones and laptop computers, which brought new portability to the corporate work environment. Laptops can still be unwieldy, however, and even smartphones are limited when it comes to how much work can be done on them: the screens are simply too small to allow for full-featured productivity.
Not so with the tablet, which combines the best of both worlds: more robust computing powers and a larger screen than a smartphone, and portability, ease of use, and a cool factor that beats just about any laptop on the market. In fact, tablet use is set to triple to 905 million in home and office by 2017, according to a VMware and Forrester mobile workforce report. This suggests that tablets will become an even more decisive factor in the untethering of the corporate workforce from the workstations of the past.
3. 24/7 expectations
The final trend driving the growing importance of the mobile workforce is a change in expectations. Amenities like 24/7 customer support have given rise to the expectation of 24/7 availability and responsiveness: problems don't stick to a 9-5 schedule, and customers are no longer willing to wait hours or days for businesses to resolve their issues. This is especially true of globalized companies with business and PR obligations across a wide stretch of time zones. A mobile workforce is a significant asset when it comes to creating an environment of instant feedback and rapid problem resolution.
For the modern enterprise, a mobile workforce is a must-have. What's driving mobility at your customers' organizations? Let us know what you've observed in the comments.