Monday, September 24, 2012

The Mobility Paradox - Stuck between a rock and a hard place



If you're a knowledge worker like me, the idea of having to go to the office and sit down at a desk to start working is starting to sound ridiculous. Even if an office hours and face time culture prevails in most organizations, the people we work with are increasingly expecting us to do our work when it needs to get done, wherever we are. "I'm out of the office" or "I'm not by my computer right now" are beginning to sound like lame excuses for not working, or as signs that we, to borrow a phrase from John Stepper, keep "working like it's 1995". More often than not it is a sign of failure from Corporate IT and (ultimately) top management to support the workforce to be productive in an increasingly challenging business and work environment.

The challenge, and paradox, that many individuals face is that they haven't been equipped with the right devices and services to work from anywhere. And moving from one situation to another, from one device to another, from one tool or IT systems to another, doesn't work smoothly enough. Often it doesn’t work at all. Some IT systems simply require them to go to the office if they are to get their work done, even for such a tiny task as approving an invoice - that potentially could be done from anywhere.

Of course, it shouldn't have to be this way. It for sure cannot stay this way. Tasks that can be performed just as easily when you are on the go, in any situation, should also be possible to perform on the go, in virtually any situation. The benefits with mobility are obvious; to name a few, it will increase the clock-speed of business, it will simplify collaboration, and it will make you less stressed since you don't have to hurry back to the office a.s.a.p. to get make that invoice approved.

Much more can be said about mobility and how important it is, and how critical it will become in the years ahead, both to the productivity of individuals in the workforce and to the overall operational performance of your organization. But for me it is also important to stress that mobility isn’t a capability; it is a way to provide services that bring certain capabilities to the people who need them, tailored to the situations when they need them. As such it is a key characteristic of the Digital Workplace, creating leverage for whatever capabilities it should provide.

The right approach to mobilizing the workforce must be to first understand what capabilities your organization and different types of individuals need to have, and then look at what services are needed and how those should be designed to bring the right capabilities to the right individuals in the right way. Mobility is, just as social technologies a cloud computing, a key concept and technology to leverage those capabilities.

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