7 Ways Mobile Will Change Business In 2014



In 2011, Microsoft Tag predicted mobile Internet use would surpass desktop Internet use by 2014. As 2013 winds down, it’s clear mobile Internet use is at an all-time high, with 63 percent of all cell phone owners admitting they use those devices to go online. The number of consumers who say they primarily use cell phones for Internet access is up to 21 percent.

While desktops will likely remain the primary method of Internet use for most users in 2014, there’s no denying mobile is a big player. For businesses, this means some serious changes as more workers than ever shift from being tied to a desktop or laptop PC to connecting to files from anywhere. This not only enables workers to connect to presentations and documents from anywhere, but it also opens up new concerns for the businesses interested in protecting data.

2014 will also bring more widespread consumer mobile adoption, bringing additional changes to corporate marketing strategies. To prepare for this increasingly-mobile world, here are a few steps businesses should take:

BYOD Security

If your business doesn’t have a BYOD policy in place, you’re already behind. Businesses are increasingly putting remote wipe and encryption software on personal devices, as well as mobile virtual workspaces that separates work data in a separate, encrypted area on a user’s personal device. If there’s even a remote possibility one of your workers could access work data on a personal device, you should have a written, signed policy in place for each of your workers.

Constantly Connected

The line between work and personal will continue to blur as employees complete work during evening and weekend hours, as well as on vacation. Mobile device ownership means workers have the ability to remain connected to work at all times and that will breed an expectation that workers be reachable at all times, as well. This could mean good news, though, if employers allow their workers to be more flexible in the hours they are officially on duty. An employee who stays on the phone until ten p.m. working through an issue with a client may be forgiven for taking off early on a Friday. Unfortunately, chances are this constant connectivity will only result in Americans working longer hours and being expected to respond to calls during valuable family time.

More Cloud Apps

As businesses redefine the devices used to connect to servers, more employers will opt to make the move to the Cloud. Solutions like Office 365 will become the norm as these businesses realize the cost savings in having their apps supported by an outside provider for a low monthly fee. Cloud providers who provide connectivity from any approved device will be at an advantage as businesses begin to troubleshoot ways they can continue to do business in a mobile-preferred workplace. When a new solution is needed, businesses will be able to immediately find and download that solution without having to pay a team of software developers to create one. This also eliminates the need to pay tech support personnel to install and troubleshoot the software, especially if the app provider offers tech support.

Mobile-Based Marketing

Even Google is recognizing that the world of search is changing. The site’s new Hummingbird algorithm addresses the role mobile now plays in search today. Users are more likely to ask a question into a mobile device than type in keywords and Google is now prepared to deliver those answers. For this reason, it’s important each business take a step back and ask themselves what questions a consumer would ask that would lead them to their website. Site content should answer questions like, “Where do I find a good plumber?” or “What’s the best Mexican restaurant near my house?” This can be done, in large part, through ensuring contact information, directions, and other frequently asked questions are addressed clearly and accurately.

Apps for Everything

The suite of electronic tools a business needs to conduct daily operations is shifting. At one time, a business owner needed an Office suite, e-mail, and industry-specific software to open for business. Today’s business owner has an infinite number of apps available, many for a far lower price than traditional software. The trend toward mobile means businesses will open their minds when it comes to the software necessary to run operations. Everything from billing and scheduling to project management may be moved to Cloud-based apps, allowing small businesses with small budgets to compete against much larger companies.

Mobile Wallet

With each year, it seems we’re no closer to leaving our wallets at home. More businesses are realizing the benefits of taking rewards programs to a consumer’s mobile device. Rather than requiring valued customers to carry yet another card either in a wallet or on a keychain, businesses can provide them with those same rewards through simply presenting a smartphone app. Rewards apps like Shopkick Local provide increased exposure by displaying local shops alongside major retailers. As 2014, consumers are moving closer to being able to pay with a mobile device, with major players like PayPal partnering with stores nationwide to enable mobile payments.

In-Store Mobile Use

Bricks-and-mortar stores are realizing the benefits of arming floor staff with tablets. Workers can use this technology to reduce lines by checking people out during busy times or to locate items at other locations. Mobile POS systems have also allowed small businesses to set up state-of-the-art cashiering systems at a minimal charge. In 2014, consumers will see more of this in-store use, as well as inventive technology to reach out to customers as they enter a store. Customers who opt in may begin to see special offers pushed to their smartphones as they near a favorite store, enticing them to stop by.

As the world continues its gradual shift from PC to mobile, businesses are adjusting their own thinking, as well. These changes are occurring both inside the workplace and in the way businesses reach out to consumers. As 2014 progresses, the shift toward a more mobile workforce will continue, allowing workers the freedom to work from anywhere.

From: http://www.forbes.com