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16 Dec 2021 | 09:30

Has the pandemic accelerated the digitalisation of enterprise mobility?

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Benefits of mobile devices in business are increasingly clear

Many things have been changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these changes were going to happen anyway – a study by consultancy firm McKinsey & Company found that the pandemic had accelerated digitalisation (which was already underway) by several years – but a rushed and pressurised transformation is never ideal, and there are signs that businesses are now trying to rationalise and re-organise the strategies they adopted during COVID, in order to compete in transformed, post-COVID markets.

Mobile and remote working have been at the forefront of this transformation. When lockdowns were enforced, many organisations had no choice but to adopt remote working arrangements – even those who had not previously recognised the advantages of mobile business. This meant a plethora of new apps and software, and a dispersed workforce operating largely from mobile devices that were unknown to the employer and of uncertain security. Not ideal, and certainly the best that could be done in the face of disaster.

Companies with enterprise mobile device (EMM) management software already in place had an advantage, particularly if they had time to familiarise themselves with its full scope before COVID hit. However, a new study by SOTI, who are EMM specialists, has revealed that while businesses around the world have responded to the challenges of COVID faster and better than many thought possible, they are still missing out on the full benefits of their COVID-prompted digitalisation. 

While many have invested in mobile devices and remote working, they haven’t paired this with the software that would optimise that approach, secure their data and provide valuable data analytics and insights.


Can enterprise mobility management (EMM) improve outcomes?

According to SOTI’s study, yes. SOTI engaged a third-party research firm to conduct 1,400 interviews with respondents in eight countries for their State of Mobility 2021 Report, and found many commonalities across markets. Seventy-nine percent of respondents said that since the pandemic their C-suite had a greater appreciation of the advantages of mobile business and 64% had changed the way staff were trained or contracted to reap the benefits of mobile devices in business. Most had made substantial investments in mobile tech during the pandemic (more so in 2021 than before) but this is where the gaps in organisational response begin to appear. 

Just 44% of respondents said the new technology was integrated into wider business operations, 56% said their business had grown its mobile device estate but found this hard to manage and 45% said their organisation was not using mobile technology in a way that helps it to thrive in a post-pandemic world. 

This apparent lack of joined-up thinking is entirely understandable, given the speed at which businesses had to pivot and the almost total lack of clarity in the landscape when the pandemic and lockdowns hit. Yet to onlookers it remains a little frustrating because the new generation of mobile device management software can provide all sorts of insights and added value when paired with precisely the devices and platforms that businesses invested in (albeit under pressure) during the pandemic. 

It is almost as though the pandemic has driven businesses forward at speed, at least in terms of mobility, but some businesses have stopped just short of completing that journey.

Furthermore, a lack of coordinating platforms and software now leaves many companies open to risk. Unsecured or unknown mobile devices, such as printers, laptops and smartphones, can − especially when provided by the employee and/or not included in routine patching and security updates – provide an open door for hackers and other cyber criminals to walk through. This represents potential liability of massive proportions. 

A comprehensive enterprise mobility management software package can close those gaps and integrate the multiple form factors and systems that most enterprises now have, thanks largely to the pandemic-fuelled acceleration of digital transformation. What is more, it also provides the crucial insights and data that forward-thinking businesses can use to make their use of mobile the best it can be and drive-up productivity. All that such businesses need to do is bolt on this level of functionality to their existing estate, and they can, perhaps paradoxically, emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic in far better health than they entered it.


Is post-COVID change here for good?

All the signs suggest that the digitalisation and mobility prompted by the pandemic is here to stay. This is not just because businesses were forced to change: customers, too, have new expectations of faster, more authentically omnichannel, service. Realistically, businesses must have mobility to meet those new demands. The cost of not digitising your operations fully could mean your business is 5 times slower than your competitors.

However, this is above all a good news story. Organisations have shown their ability to respond quickly and efficiently to the crisis by harnessing the benefits of mobile devices in business; now, all they need to do is integrate and consolidate those gains. If you would like to know how software can help you to do that, why not have a look at our SOTI solution to help enterprises reap the advantages of mobile business, or contact us.


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