Mobile is the new web (well, almost). More and more of us are now using smartphones on a daily basis. According to a Garter whitepaper published earlier this year, mobile phones will be the prime means by which we access the internet by 2015. What does his mean for business?

It means many things. One aspect of business that is already changing is that employees bring their beloved mobile devices to work. Although only reserved for tech evangelicals until now, the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend cannot be ignored anymore. Currently, 93% of Fortune 500 companies are testing or deploying the iPhone for internal use, and 1 in 5 UK companies have set BYOD policy.

So picture the following scenarios:

  • The CEO just bought an iPad and uses it to impress shareholders at a quarterly meeting.
  • A few of the R&D guys install a CAD app on their smart phones to review projects whilst flying to a conference in Rio.
  • A sales rep pitches the company’s new product range using his tablet.
  • Everyone in the office use their smartphones to check emails.

If the above scenarios occur in your company it means you have gone mobile! What now? Here are six key questions that will help you get to grips with the BYOD trend:

     1.  Are we going to embrace the mobile revolution?

Research shows that 70% of employees in the UK use their phone for work purposes. It is going to be hard to stop the trend, so why not embrace it? If you don’t implement a BYOD strategy, including new policy measures, you run a serious risk of network failure and security issues.

     2.  Should we give employees freedom of mobility?
BYOD open huge possibilities when it comes to flexible working conditions. Why keep an employee desk-bound when he/she would be more productive working off their mobile device from home?

     3.  Can our systems handle it?
It is easy to say – “hey, everyone can now work on their iPads!” Yet without checking the robustness of your network, in terms of speed and security, you might cause mayhem.

     4.  Why don’t we supply mobile devices?
Of course, a true BYOD strategy places emphasis on employees bringing their own device to work, but providing employees with tablets and smartphones should be seriously considered (just think about Blackberry’s success). Although this might be a more expensive option, you would have more control, greater security and better support options.

     5.  Which apps do our employees need?
Here is where things get fun. Although we all use apps to check the weather, write an email or schedule a meeting, employers can create their own bespoke apps – designed specifically for their business. These could range from apps for presenting corporate material, to an internal social media app to an app that allows employees to check the company’s fund performance. IBM already has ther own app store with over 60% of the company downloading internal apps.

     6.  How are we going to communicate our BYOD strategy?
This can be rather tricky. Important is to emphasise the benefit of your BYOD strategy – employees want to know how it is going to improve their work: that’s it! Also, the rules of engagement need to by set very clearly – e.g. what happens when an employee leaves his or her iPad in Starbucks containing confidential material?

Overall, nothing is going to stop employees bringing their smartphones and tablets to the office. Not only does it increase productivity, but also the amount of pleasure we have whilst working. Being prepared for the paradigm shift is essential to potentially gain a competitive advantage. Deciding not to invest in mobile technology now would be similar to not investing into a website 15 year ago – a detrimental choice. Business needs to be smart; embrace what is the future and prepare for anything.

Below is a great video explaining everything a business needs to know – It’s a bit long, thanks ZDnet ;-)