Over the last several years, there has been an increase in workforce mobility and, by all indications, this trend is expected to continue. Not long ago, when someone said they were heading out of the office, they were not only physically leaving the premises, but they were going to be out of touch for some time as well. With the proliferation of laptops and handheld devices and the growth of wireless networks, that dynamic has changed. Today, employees may be out of the office, but thanks to mobile technologies, they are no longer incommunicado and disconnected from their employer, colleagues, vendors and customers.
From Wall Street to Main Street, today's workforce is on the move, armed with cell phones, Pocket PCs, BlackBerry® smartphones, Rugged Digital Devices and other handheld apparatus, enabling them to remain connected as they spend more time out of the office – a trend that industry experts predict will continue to escalate. Research firm IDC estimates that the number of “mobile professionals” – white-collar workers who spend 20 percent or more of their time away from their desks – is growing by approximately 15 percent annually.1 Likewise, Quocirca Research predicts a faster uptake of mobility for blue-collar workers as mobile devices continue to meet their information and communication requirements.2 Regardless of the type of work, mobile access can eliminate the inherent inefficiencies that are often associated with business travel.
Ideal mobile business solutions for workforce and expense management should:
· Bring enterprise-class applications to mobile workers rather than forcing the mobile workers to the enterprise applications. · Increase productivity by reducing the need for employees to use personal time to complete reports or take time away from core business activities when they return to the office. · Increase visibility into employee business expenses and labor costs which improves compliance with company policies and procedures. · Offer opportunities to provide greater flexibility to an organization's workforce, providing greater employee satisfaction and increased retention rates of skilled labor.
This paper examines the mobility trend, the challenges it presents, the tools mobile workers need to be productive outside of the traditional office environment, and the enterprise application solutions available to manage and support a mobile workforce.