When was the last time you actually saw a phone booth, much less stepped into one? Amazing to think back 20 years ago and they were all over the place. Now they’re as common as dinosaurs. OK, maybe they’re not totally extinct, but you get the point. Over the last two decades we’ve seen an incredible rise in the use of mobile devices both for personal and corporate usage. While some people don’t like the feeling of being accessible to their boss or customers all the time, for the most part information workers reap tremendous benefits by using mobile technologies for two reasons: increased productivity and improved customer service.
“Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything.” – Steve Jobs, co-Founder, Apple Computer
Holy Grail #1: Productivity
Measuring productivity, especially for knowledge workers, is always challenging. However, by increasing the use of mobile technologies information workers can connect more easily with customers, fill orders faster, and share information in real time with colleagues. But how much does mobile technology really improve productivity? According to CTIA, estimates of productivity gains from wireless broadband services should total more than $860 billion from 2005 through 2016. The key is to make sure your company is on the receiving end of those productivity gains.
Holy Grail #2: Improved customer service
Equipping information workers with mobile technologies greatly improves the chances of delivering improved customer service. Of course, better customer service leads to improved customer satisfaction and happy customers are more likely to buy products or services. In order to help improve customer service companies are having employees use mobile devices like smartphones and tablets that sync with corporate IT systems which, for example, helps reduce the time it takes to fill orders.
The breakthrough is how these advanced mobile devices can seamlessly interact with corporate applications to the point of changing the way information workers operate. For example, in August 2011 according to GotttaBeMobile, a news and review website that covers the mobile technology sector, Web email access has dropped six percent while email use on mobile phones has jumped 35 percent.
Improving productivity and customer service are two very worthy goals for any business. In order to achieve these goals information workers must be able to easily access information and content from anywhere at any time.
What’s surprising is that while adoption of mobile technologies has risen, not many executives seem to realize how important it is to have a content management strategy that is geared for mobile usage.
So far, the successes that have been achieved are largely one-off, piecemeal implementations that ended up delivering value. Imagine what could be accomplished with a more well thought-out approach.
Toward a mobile content management strategy
Targeting mobile technologies as a way to improve productivity and customer satisfaction is a smart goal. But how can corporations truly gain the most benefits of using mobile technologies if information is fragmented and hard to find? In order to benefit by using mobile technologies, corporate leaders need to take a more holistic approach and implement strategies in four areas: content management, application delivery, personalization, and infrastructure.
1. Content management. Over the years corporations have kept data such as product spec sheets or artwork in folders on corporate servers. This system might work on a desktop computer, but fumbling around on a smartphone while searching for product literature won’t impress any customer. In today’s fast-paced business world, information workers need context-aware applications that make the appropriate content instantly available.
For instance, the system should read an appointment calendar to know that a rep is meeting with an important customer and deliver relevant supporting data so it’s pre-loaded on the device. Most companies already have a general-purpose content management system in place, but truly making it sing requires focused analysis of various usage scenarios coupled with smart search and content analytics technologies.
2. Application delivery. Outside of a few features and additional services, most smart mobile devices are similar in nature. The functional difference between generations such as an iPad 1 or iPad 2 or operating systems like Android, Apple iOS, or Windows Phone, isn’t that huge. What’s important is to create a company-branded application that can be written once and deployed across various platforms with minimal effort.
This is important for two reasons. First, information workers don’t want to be limited in terms of the devices they can use. In fact, according to BizTechCrave, 66 percent of employees want companies to let them use any devices they choose. Second, following the write-once/run-often mantra means developers can focus on features and functionality rather than figuring out device quirks.
Such application delivery technologies already exist today and are the right approach for corporate-developed mobile apps. And, according to the recent report in CIO Magazine titled CIO’s Digital Spotlight on BYOD, there are immense benefits to this approach. Those benefits accrue in areas like improved employee reach, accelerated innovation, better work-life balance, and even improved safety.
3. Personalization. We live in a truly global society, which means that customer outreach must be tailored to specific regions, not simply mandated from headquarters in North America. For example, it’s pretty hard for me as a chief marketing officer based near Toronto to understand the cultural significance of a product name to customers living in Africa.
At OpenText we offer campaign guidance and promote communication within our global team. Executives are placed in regions in part because they not only understand our company, but also because they understand how our company is perceived in their region and what business practices work there. We use a digital asset management system to keep track of our various properties, all which are available on mobile devices.
4. Infrastructure. Since mobile workers seem to be always traveling somewhere, it’s important to design flexible content management strategies to fit a variety of work styles. But it’s equally important to make sure that the underlying infrastructure is rock solid. This means use of scalable cloud-based servers coupled with redundant backup systems. Once users start depending on mobile content, there’s no turning back. Similarly, it’s important to encase mobile applications with appropriate levels of security without unduly hampering usability.
All this does what?
The continued development of and growth in use of mobile technologies has potential to change the way many corporations function. Sales representatives in the field will have an easier time filling orders. Marketing leaders will initiate global programs that are more coordinated with less stringent control. Customer service reps will have an easier time accessing corporate data to simplify their job. As noted in a report by iPass from Q3 2011, 54 percent of workers surveyed felt their productivity was substantially improved using mobile technology. If you’re like most organizations, you’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible with mobile technology. The time to look for more improvements is now.
James Latham is the Chief Marketing Officer of OpenText and he has more than 20 years of executive leadership and global marketing experience in both startup and large public software companies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can read more about his thoughts on marketing and social media at his blog – the CMO Zone.