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In an Enterprise Connect webinar this week, Diane Myers of IHS Markit presented some research about why enterprises move to Unified Communications. The number-one reason was “employee productivity,” which 79% of respondents cited; “reduce operational costs” was next at 75%, followed by “improve response times” at 72%, “gain competitive edge” at 70%, and “employee mobility” at 68%. So just over two-thirds of enterprises directly tie UC migration to the need to facilitate the ever-increasing mobilization of the workforce. It was a salient point in this particular webinar, which was entitled, “Why It’s Time to Go Mobile-Only”.

Your enterprise may or may not need to go mobile-only, but it may be time to revisit the idea that your enterprise needs a distinct strategy around mobility. “BYOD” as a buzzword and a reality is a decade old, and enterprises seem to have made an uneasy peace with the idea, using mobile device management (MDM) systems to provide at least a basic level of security and control over the mobile devices that access their networks. But if work is going to really get done in a mobile-only environment, enterprises may need to be more proactive about it.

Let’s face it: We’ve all been on conference calls recently in which a participant, calling from a car, was almost incomprehensible. And enterprise Wi-Fi deployments may not be much better; on No Jitter this week, Terry Slattery describes how mobile work within the office or campus is frequently hampered by bad Wi-Fi engineering. Now, these are different kinds of problems. As Terry suggests, you can probably solve the latter; your ability to do much about the carriers’ cellular coverage is much more limited.

Still, you can’t ignore it. If that goal of “employee mobility” in the IHS Markit survey overlaps with “employee productivity” and “competitive advantage,” you’ll never achieve this cluster of objectives as long as the quality of mobile networks is inconsistent.

And mobility is just a part of the wireless environment of the future. Carriers like Verizon, which sponsored our webinar this week, are keen to tout their emerging 5G networks. Part of the benefits of these networks is all the new applications that they’re intended to enable, such as broadband connectivity, fleet tracking, and video, to cite just a few examples Verizon provided in the webinar. Meanwhile, office and campus Wi-Fi is poised to support all manner of cutting-edge functions around office hoteling, seamless videoconference launching, and a host of other applications for which the mobile device serves as the key that unlocks these features and places them at the user’s command.

At Enterprise Connect Orlando in March, we saw stronger interest in our sessions around mobility than had been evident the previous few years; our sessions on 5G and on mobile replacing desktop phones were among the most popular sessions in their time slots. That’s often a sign that a technology or issue is starting to become either a pain point or a perceived opportunity.

Mobility may have plateaued for a few years as enterprises digested the changes that BYOD wrought. But the changes we’ve enabled to date haven’t made mobile systems as enterprise-grade as they could be. With a new generation of devices, networks, and workers hitting the enterprise, it may be time for a new, strategic approach to mobility.

Eric Krapf
GM & Program Co-Chair Enterprise Connect & WorkSpace Connect
Publisher, No Jitter

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