What does having a mobile workplace mean to you? Is it the ability to respond to emails and instant messaging conversations from your phone? Is it being able to complete routine tasks like expense report submission and approval from any of your devices? Maybe mobility is as simple as being able to use the company VPN to connect your computer from the couch at home?
I know my own definition of mobility has changed over time. About 15 years ago, I was profiled in a Des Moines, Iowa business newspaper as being the quintessential mobile worker (at least for Iowa), because I took my laptop to coffee shops and wore flip flops to work. Back then, I did server administration, blogging, and some application development from anywhere that had an internet connection. While my own mobility created an excellent lifestyle, there weren’t any systems and processes in place that allowed for scaling beyond mobility for a very small core team of people geeky enough to jump through some hoops.
Mobility is very different today. Smartphones with 4G and LTE connections, combined with consumer apps, have created the expectation that we can access anything we want no matter where we are. Businesses have tended to lag behind with legacy systems that are built around a Windows client/server model that doesn’t work with iOS and Android.
Mobile workers need access to all the data required to do their job. The mobile workplace requires access to applications to complete basic tasks. And mobility requires that the workforce be able to easily connect with the people and teams that support their job functions.
For many companies, this means the information technology team is required to rethink the applications used to support the business. At HP Discover in Barcelona, I had the chance to interview Jordan Whitmarsh about workplace mobilty. The interview provides some great insights into how IT needs to rethink workplace mobility to prepare the workforce for the next decade.