When Forbes quoted Coca-Cola general manger Ulrik Nehammer saying, “Today I run most of my business from my phone,” it led plenty of people who run much smaller companies to wonder if they could do the same thing. There are many benefits associated with using your smartphone or tablet as your primary base of executive operations: being freed from the office increases productivity, enables faster responses to customer inquiries and concerns, and even lowers your IT cost. However, concerns about data security have held many business owners back. Is going mobile really a good idea?
Why did we have offices in the first place?
Central to the discussion of going mobile is an understanding of why we needed a physical office at all. The reason a CEO would spend so much of their day in the office is that’s where everything they needed to do their job was: the staff, the data, access to the tools used to make leadership decisions.
Today, all of that functionality can be accessed through apps or secure web pages that connect users with cloud-based systems. Data is stored securely while leaders and employees can easily access the information they need to perform essential tasks, such as payroll, file sharing, CRM, marketing, social media management, conferencing and more.
Mobile can mean saving money & better decision making
As business owners, embracing mobile allows us to re-examine one of our largest costs: physical office space. When you and your team can work literally anywhere, do you need to devote the same amount of your budget to making sure everyone has a desk? A flexible approach that embraces shared office space, employees working remotely, or even renting conference rooms only as needed can boost your bottom line.
The costs associated with running your business via mobile apps and cloud-based platforms are generally lower and more predictable than the costs of maintain the same functionality via another method. Additionally, if you do run into a problem with the system, IT support is provided at no additional cost.
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Spending too much time in the office, cut off from your actual operation, customers, and forces influencing your industry, can be bad for your business’ health and can constitute a hidden cost that’s damaging your bottom line. Nehammer says, “The most dangerous place to make a decision is in the office.” Embracing mobile allows the CEO to spend more time actively engaged with others, gaining a valuable perspective and enabling a more responsive, hands-on leadership approach.
What can’t you do on your mobile device?
Mobile devices aren’t ideal for every application. The small screen size can make consuming large amounts of data, particularly in spreadsheet format, problematic. Creating slideshows and other graphic design tasks can be tricky. Additionally, while composing a text message or email on a small keyboard may be easy, the same can’t be said if you’re writing a longer document.
Another factor to consider is the technology you’re currently using to run your business. Some software programs, particularly proprietary ones, may not have evolved to a mobile platform yet – but they are still more than adequate (and may be the only available option) to do what you need to do every day.
For these reasons, it’s still relatively rare for an entire enterprise to be run strictly on a mobile device. Instead, a hybrid approach is emerging, where space-sensitive tasks and those based on legacy applications are performed on laptops or desktop computers, while other tasks have shifted to mobile devices, allowing the leadership team to get out of the office.
Mobile: more secure than you might think
Protecting sensitive customer and business data is many small business’ owners major objection to going mobile. However, major cloud-based business service providers are heavily invested in preserving the security of all the data they’ve been entrusted with, and are able to provide a level of robust protection that the typical individual business owner just can’t match. Remember that data stored in your facility is also vulnerable: if someone was to break into your facility and walk off with your computers, the loss could be catastrophic – particularly if you don’t maintain off site backups.
Highly sensitive data, such as a customer’s financial or health information, should never be accessed through an employees’ personal mobile device. Experts recommend that if enabling mobile access to this type of data is part of your strategy, the business provide devices for that purpose.
That being said, it is important to remember mobile devices can be stolen. Create organization wide security protocols to protect your organization, including complex, regularly changed passwords and remote wipe applications that erase any data from your device before thieves can make use of it.
PQ: There are many benefits associated with using your smartphone or tablet as your primary base of executive operations: being freed from the office increases productivity, enables faster responses to customer inquiries and concerns, and even lowers your IT cost.