- Use it! Start using an iPhone, a Google Android smartphone, a Blackberry or similar device. If your company uses salesforce.com, try the mobile version of that application. Use TripTracker or any of the airline applications for travel information. Download your favorite news channel applications and get breaking news. There is probably a sports or special-interest application that may be of value to you as well. Then you'll understand what your workers love.
- Provide mobile device support. Create a process to support different smartphones and mobile devices used by employees as new form factors (such as the iPad) come to market. With the mobile landscape changing so quickly--and an increasing number of employees using their own mobile devices for work and personal activities--companies should reconsider which employees get mobile devices. Let employees purchase their own devices and ensure that minimal security is placed on the device. Let's face it, the days of supporting only one or two corporate-controlled smartphone platforms are behind us.
- Create mobility teams. Create a cross-organizational team to address facilities, HR, legal and security issues with employees who will inevitably be roaming coffee shops, soccer fields and the workplace while using mobile devices. Some companies are finding that, between telecommuting and shared workplaces, not every employee needs a dedicated cube. Understand the HR and legal ramifications of employees who plan to use their own devices to access corporate data. A "We don't support that" attitude won't suffice. Gen X, Y and Z employees will figure out how to use their own devices to access corporate data. It's much better to get ahead of the issue and have processes and procedures in place to accommodate this behavior.
- Security isn't everything. Don't get bogged down in the security arguments that will inevitably happen. Your CISO will most likely want to lock down mobile devices to a point at which they become useless paperweights, but this is unrealistic. Security is, and always will be, important--especially as devices get smaller, get lost and get stolen more frequently with each passing year. However, education and some security measures--such as password protection and remote wipe (in which the help desk can remotely wipe clean a device that's been reported lost or stolen)--will meet the needs of most businesses. Companies need to carefully balance risk, usability and cost.
- Go mobile. Challenge application-development teams to design everything for a mobile platform. This will encourage application developers to think about and embrace mobility, and will likely be a big hit with employees who are already using mobile devices. If your company is advanced in its approach to mobility and its value to the workforce, go ahead and create a mobile application that encourages feedback from employees to rate their mobile experience at work. Find out what their likes and dislikes are when it comes to using mobility inside (or outside) the workplace to get work done. Learn what improvements your mobile users recommend. You might be surprised at the feedback you get.
Scott Archibald is a managing director at Bender Consulting, an Austin, Texas-based consulting firm focused on transformation projects. He's had two decades of leadership experience in the high-tech industry.