Does business agility depend on mobile devices?

Increasingly, businesses with a mobile-first approach are lauded as being agile, but is that all it is?

Business agility is one of the most valued traits of a growth businesses. It may be what separates behemoth businesses from competitive start-ups; the ability to move quickly when challenged, whether that is by adjusting to change rapidly, or being flexible in the face of uncertainty.

Agile businesses value innovation over status quo, inspiring leadership over conservative management, collaborative autonomy over hierarchical control, and customer focus over self-interest. Increasingly, businesses with a mobile-first approach are lauded as being agile, but is that all it is?

The concept of business agility evolved from an IT and project management background into whole-business applications, says Ed Holt, an experienced member of the Agile Business Consortium, a not-for profit body that pioneered agile business thinking some 20 years ago.

“The pace of change is now so rapid, organisations cannot afford to operate in a cumbersome way with rigid plans setting out what will be happening over the next year or 18 months,” Holt explains. “Annual budget planning, for example, is time consuming and often a wasted effort. Instead, budgets and forecasts should be reviewed on a rolling basis to ensure the right decisions are made at the right time, based on current information and relevant to the actual – rather than long-predicted – needs of the business.”

The ability to take rapid action when the unexpected happens requires mobile devices and software that makes change possible, quickly.

The larger ERP and CRM software vendors bundle their offerings with mobile apps that can help businesses keep tabs on business processes on the go across the company. Whether balancing inventory across multiple sites and divisions, finding a new component supplier, or re-routing a service engineer, expanding operations into a new market, acquiring a supplier, or changing a major product line, a mobile-first approach can boost flexibility and transparency, according to new research.

However, a study into the state of mobile working in UK businesses reveals that 72 per cent of business leaders do not find it easy to carry out work from a mobile device.

Revealing a gap in perception of mobile working and the reality of working practices, the research from Priority Software, which surveyed 500 senior decision-makers in UK companies, found that while 95 per cent of those who are permitted to work on-the-go think mobility increases productivity, over a third do not have the correct technology to fulfil its potential and 43 per cent cannot perform business-critical functions on a mobile application.

“While UK business leaders are generally of the view that mobile working increases productivity, it’s clear from these findings that many businesses are struggling to perform business-critical functions from mobile devices,” Andres Richter, CEO of Priority Software, says. “There’s a big appetite for mobility within businesses, but for many, crucial day-to-day tasks are still being carried out on a laptop, with some employees never having the chance to work away from their desk.”

Desktops and laptops still on top

While 88 per cent of senior decision-makers said their business permits mobile working, laptops and desktops are still a major part of work life for many company leaders carrying out business-critical tasks. Close to half of the surveyed decision-makers can only check customer data, submit expense reports, and input sales orders on their computers. One in three still send emails via desktop.

See also: 10 security tips for remote and mobile working – Philip Woods takes a look at businesses allowing employees to work remotely or from home, and offer their top ten security tips to consider for employees working remotely.

Barriers to fulfilling mobile working potential

A number of barriers to maximising the mobile working experience within UK organisations were highlighted, including 35 per cent of respondents citing it had a negative impact on customer service. 36 per cent said businesses don’t trust employees to be as productive off-site as in the office and 35 per cent said mobility has impacted on team culture.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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