Mobility: Improving Staff Engagement

For many of us, mobile has become our first, or default screen. Our primary interface with our personal and work data, our friends, family, and everything in between. This tether, which we have willingly adopted for good or ill, provides us with a closer and more immediate connection to our digital lives than a PC ever could.

It should come as no surprise then, that businesses are coming around to the fact that the increased productivity, and improved customer service that a mobile enabled work force can provide, is certainly going to have a positive effect on profitability and customer satisfaction.

However, mobile isn’t simply another device for IT to support via a scaled down version of the website or a screen-scraped SAP application. Mobile represents a much broader shift to new systems of engagement. Systems of engagement, which should empower employees, customers and partners with context-aware applications and smart products.

It’s crucial that CIOs step up, own this transformation, and partner with other executives to coordinate business and technology investments under a “design for mobile first” mantra that delivers four immediate benefits:

  1. fuel profitable growth with stickier offerings and mobile self-service;
  2. accelerate the mobile learning curve (for IT and users);
  3. aggregate mobile project budgets to fund needed engagement technology; and
  4. grow from an IT group focused on systems of record to a business technology group focused on systems of engagement1.

With more than one billion workers forecast to be using mobile technology by 2015, the race is on for employers to harness mobility to increase employee engagement through improved work experiences.

We are seeing a not too subtle power shift occur as a newly mobile workforce begins using technology to engage with their organisation in a meaningful way. With answers literally at the tips of their fingers, employees can self-serve, act autonomously, and more confidently represent their company's brand from anywhere.

The access and convenience of mobile apps and devices shifts more power from institutions to individuals than did personal computing (and arguably, even the internet). Adoption levels and growth projections of mobile devices and investment are simply staggering.

Add Employee Engagement to Your Mobile Strategy

A recent Harvard Business Review blog shared research from the Hay Group on the impact of a more engaged workforce. The article noted that companies with highly engaged workers outperform firms with the most disengaged employees – by 54% in employee retention, 89% in customer satisfaction, and 400% in revenue growth! Here are a few ways you can increase your employee engagement:

  • Expand your IT support for mobile devices. With price points of devices dropping, you can expect an increase in workforce mobile usage. Plan for ever greater need for IT support of both business and personal devices for wherever employees are – at work, at home, or on the go.

  • Craft more creative ways to use mobile solutions. There are apps available that enhance almost any task an employee executes… whether it’s related to a specific job function, or workplace administrative requirement. For instance, self-service HR apps for holiday requests, time tracking and expense reports engage employees and save them time while making HR personnel more efficient.

  • Be more mobile friendly. Think of your mobile apps as employee engagement tools. Employees expect that their business apps will have the same friendly look-and-feel as their consumer apps. So your development team should regard their user interfaces as equally important as application functionality. The friendlier your business mobile apps, the more employees will use them.

  • Make their lives easier. Never miss an opportunity to enhance a business process with a mobile app. Tailor mobile apps to specific user roles in the company (e.g. sales, accounting, product design). Dream up mobile solutions that accelerate business functions like workflow approvals and information retrieval.

  • Make data access easy. Making real-time analytics available to employees via their mobile devices is a key way to keep them engaged and productive. Start with your sales force – these road warriors are using mobile devices to more effectively engage customers and prospects. Having real-time data on key metrics, pricing and other sales tools for on-the-spot decision making can make the difference between winning and losing a sale.

  • Protect your workforce with security measures. Employees don’t want to worry about the security of their mobile devices and the apps they use. They need to be responsible for their devices and how they use them, but they should feel confident that there are strong security measures protecting their personal and work data2.

Systems of engagement harness the perfect storm of mobile, social, cloud and big data innovation to deliver apps and smart products directly into the daily lives and real-time workflows of customers, partners and employees.

To successfully engage employees through mobile apps, CIOs need to rethink their technology organisation’s role, responsibilities and skill sets. Just as the PC necessitated an organisational shift from data processing to IT, mobile apps front-ending systems of engagement will act as a catalyst for the reinvention of IT as a business technology. CIOs should evolve beyond a myopic focus on employee mobile apps and take on the role of business technology reformer to serve as the orchestral conductor for the firm’s broad portfolio of mobile apps and systems of engagement.”

Financial Times article – The Rise of the Chief Mobility Officer

Executive Summary

As you add mobile apps fronting systems of engagement to your enterprise mobility strategy, employee productivity will increase, and you’ll reap other benefits of highly engaged employees – increased levels of employee satisfaction and reduced turnover. Engagement apps for partners and suppliers tie them more closely to your business and its needs. A coordinated and well-resourced approach to mobile engagement can only enhance your organisation's competitive advantage.

1 Forrester research paper – Mobile is the New Face of Engagement

2 SAP blog post – Better Enterprise Mobility: Happy Employees Are Engaged Employees

Rowan Schaaf

About Rowan Schaaf

Rowan has been in the technology sector for over 20 years in business development, strategic planning & business analysis. He is co-founder of Pattern, a software development firm based in NZ. →