Like most business buzzwords, “enterprise mobility” isn’t new and leaders often use the term in passing with little regard for its true implications. Despite the fact that many executives acknowledge the value of “going mobile” as an inevitability, few recognize that waiting can be damaging. Just as “all work and no play make Jack a dull boy,” now all speculation and no implementation make companies lose critical market share.

But, as leaders emerge from this detrimental fog, it’s becoming clear that enterprise mobility stretches well beyond the basic Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. In fact, executives need only look to the term itself for guidance, as true mobility requires enterprisewide innovation and adoption to ensure everyone within the organization gains the same freedoms and follows the same rules.


Actions Speak Louder Than Words


Every revolutionary technology trend comes with an unavoidable adjustment period. During this time, analysts and industry leaders discuss how the enterprise will change and how everyone throughout the organization will have to change, as well. Eventually, however, words no longer suffice, and it’s on the CEO to bring the company to the next level. Yet, when it comes to the underlying digital transformation needed to bring enterprise mobility to fruition, 67 percent of today’s executives believe they’ve already fallen behind.


According to Forrester Research’s Predictions 2018: A Year of Reckoning, “2018 will be a year of reckoning for those that have held on too long or tried to bootstrap their way through transforming their business. Simply put, the distance between customer expectations and the reality on the ground is becoming so great that a slow and gradual transition is no longer possible. Incrementalism may feel good, but it masks the quiet deterioration of the business.”


Thus, even those leaders who jump on the enterprise mobility train right this moment might already be too late, as Forrester notes that, while some CEOs will use their balance sheet to acquire digital assets and buy time, 20 percent will fail to act, thereby setting their company up for acquisition or dissolution. Mobility empowers companies and, by extension, employees, to go everywhere, while organizations that neglect to adopt said technology are destined to go nowhere at all, in time.


Embracing the mobile shift introduces countless benefits across the enterprise, offsetting the initial costs known to hold executives back. From visibility and portability, to affordability and availability, mobile means employees are no longer tethered to their desks. They have the freedom and flexibility to manage their workflow while out in the field, allowing those within relevant industries to manage operations from afar while connecting with consumers on-site as necessary. Permitting employees to use their own device also enables companies to focus resources to the back-end systems required for successful mobile implementation as they establish a centralized repository for enterprise data.


However, with BYOD and a dispersed workforce come increased safety concerns with regard to such sensitive and proprietary company data.


Serve and Protect


First and foremost, mobility enhances efficiency for employees, as there’s a mobile device within everyone’s reach no matter their position within the company. Consumers are perpetually attached to their smartphones and tablets, so it’s only logical that workers throughout the enterprise operate this way. Yet, while this shift puts information at their fingertips, employees need more than mere access to company data – they require intuitive, easy-to-use applications.


Before any enterprise mobility initiative can truly succeed, companies need to invest in applications that enable their employees to serve the consumer without compromising data. After all, when an employee’s personal mobile device enters the workplace, security risks abound, as these devices are not confined to one private, protected system. Thus, as PwC’s 18th Annual Global CEO Survey emphasizes, industrial manufacturing CEOs view mobility and security as the top two pressing technology priorities right now.


Now that the manufacturing industry has begun to integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, for instance, much of the connected equipment used affords organizations real-time insight into how operations are performing. Therefore, as this data updates in real time, employees with access to coordinating app technology can derive actionable insight that empowers them to respond quicker, ultimately improving the employee and customer experience simultaneously. But, because these employees connect with everyone from contractors and suppliers, to colleagues and consumers, every single day, BYOD puts sensitive data at risk if there’s no enterprisewide protocol in place to limit unintended exposure.


Secure mobile applications must be at the core of every enterprise mobility initiative from the start, as they prevent data leaks from threatening the safety of the company’s clients and the organization’s own reputation. Such apps also provide employees with one single source of truth, as one centralized, secure communication platform allows every person to manage their interactions and collaborate efficiently both internally and externally without putting privacy on the line. In many cases, employees are using personal, unprotected devices to correspond across touchpoints, but a consolidated communication hub streamlines both workflow and procedure. Even implementing simple password protections can go a long way in preserving the overarching integrity of enterprise data and brand reputation.


Wish You Were Here


With mobile connectivity comes great responsibility. While the latest devices also provide the latest conveniences, it’s imperative that companies incorporate a cutting edge communication portal in order to guarantee all conversations are safe and secure. Subsequently, employees will be capable of making quicker, wiser decisions, as they will be able to see the big picture from this centralized source at any time. Companies will also be able to allocate resources with greater precision and reduce the margin of error because enterprise data will be readily available via this consolidated platform, thereby eliminating information overlap or miscommunication.


But executives must remember that making plans means nothing if they don’t follow through. Leaders often plant the seeds of an idea within the confines of the conference room, but many lack the capacity to nurture and care for these concepts as they grow. Apathy could mean the difference between life and death – of the company, as the case might be – but those that start from the ground and work their way up will ultimately grow where the people are.