Drivers and Benefits of Investments in Enterprise Mobility
When you speak of the global economy, say in the last 10 years, Asia comes to the forefront. Competition within Asia is incredibly fierce and real, so firms need to constantly reinvent themselves to stay ahead, in order to survive.
Most countries in Asia are developing markets, and are therefore presented with loads of opportunities to innovate. Telecommunication providers are constantly developing new ways of reaching out to a wider consumer base.
The APAC market is expanding rapidly and has tremendous commercial diversity. Just look at advanced economies such as Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and of course Singapore. These are similar markets as compared to the US for example. However, Asia also has less developed countries like China and India, which are growing tremendously and part of the famed BRIC economies.
This commercial diversity is actually a downside to mobility, as it results in a two-tier growth performance across the region. Singapore, on the one hand, is extremely well connected, but Asia in its entirety cannot keep up with other regions in this respect. Once again, this points to the huge potential for growth.
Furthermore, Asian businesses are under pressure to implement more flexible methods of working for their staff, due to a shift in social attitudes. New generations of workers want work-life balance by working from home, reducing business travel and having flexible working arrangements. The disruption caused by such recent events in Asia such as SARS and the bird flu pandemic has also had an impact.
This has demonstrated clearly that business continuity benefits significantly from the creation of a 'work anywhere, with anyone' environment for staff stranded in a remote location away from the office, for example.
With that in mind, from my point of view, there are four main areas which are currently driving investment in mobile technologies and solutions in Asia, as follows:
Increasing workforce productivity and operational efficiency. This means working from anywhere, striking a work-life balance, as well as faster decision making and responses in the field. Next, achieving better customer service, to be able to react quickly on the ground. Basically, data at your fingertips. Additionally, understanding costs and reducing them, such as office rental and cost of devices by adopting BYOD programs. Finally, establishing good service providers and development partners. All of these things will result in organisations remaining competitive in the mobile space.
Cost is a big lesson Asian businesses could learn from more mature markets worldwide, in terms of mobility. MNCs want to cut expenditure and increase efficiency. However, many are not able to forecast their global spend on telecoms accurately. In a diverse market like Asia, multiple vendors, contracts, and administrative processes together with increasing numbers of mobile workers make this a difficult problem to overcome. Many businesses have not put in place company-wide strategies to manage these telecommunications costs to derive productivity and efficiency gains.
In many organisations, IT and telecoms are not seen as one common area of expenditure. But it just makes sense to integrate the two organisation-wide and use a single service provider, instead of many in this fragmented market which can result in a lack of control (it may be difficult to identify excessive expenditure and intervene in time). However, this of course is easier said than done.
There needs to be best practice billing solutions put in place by a single global provider, the likes of Verizon or Vodafone. This is indeed increasingly happening in Asia, more so with global MNCs. This is a unified approach that will remove complexity and enable greater control over logistics, security and costs.
Another important lesson that Asia can borrow from more mature markets is to be more open with the boundaries between work and home life. It is an attitude change all round and eradication of beliefs, such as a loss of productivity if someone is working from home, must occur sooner rather than later in order to progress.
This article was written by Gurjit Gill, Divisional Head of IT, APAC for Vopak.