Canadian workforces are becoming more mobile, whether that’s the result of a formal policy, or just the fact that workers are using their personal mobile devices to do business on the road, at customer sites or at home in the evening.
A lot of the benefits, though, have been intangible and hard to quantify — does mobility actually increase productivity? And do those productivity benefits outweigh all of the challenges and costs of building a mobile infrastructure?
The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) has taken a stab at getting some answers to these questions. In a new report, Canada’s Mobile Imperative: Leveraging Mobile Technologies to Drive Growth, the ICTC talked to 400 Canadian businesses — employers and employees — to get a uniquely Canuck viewpoint on mobility.
There’s a reason why the ICTC considers mobility to be so important: Between 2001 and 2011, Canadian worker productivity levels have fallen in half. Indeed, the average Canadian worker produces 23 per cent less output than a worker in the U.S.
Those are sobering statistics. “The implications of a failure to act are that Canada’s standing with respect to productivity and prosperity on the world stage will decline,” says ICTC in the report.
While there are a lot of factors at play here, mobility offers a beacon of hope — if companies are willing to spend the resources necessary to make it happen.
Many Canadian businesses are already adopting mobile technologies (formally and informally) to provide “anywhere” connectivity, network with clients, access documents off-site and input data for faster information flow.
This is probably not a big revelation — the real question is whether this is actually helping to improve productivity in a quantifiable way. And, according to the ICTC, it is.
In the report, two out of three businesses said they increased efficiencies through mobile adoption. And 50 per cent of those reported a reduction in operating costs ranging from 5 to more than 20 per cent. One in three said they’ve improved customer service and satisfaction, as well as benefit from faster access to real-time, business-critical information.
That translates into an average time saving of 1.2 hours a week per worker (according to the ICTC, that means a 3 per cent reduction in salary expenses or increase in output). That translates, in a quantifiable way, to increased productivity.
If mobility is so great, then why isn’t everyone jumping on the bandwagon? Despite the benefits, there are also significant challenges and costs. For many companies, it means shifting and reallocating resources from another area of the IT budget.
Indeed, the report found that one in four businesses is wary of the costs of adoption and maintenance of mobile technologies. Many already have budget for wireless connectivity, but fewer have dedicated funds set aside for things like mobile-enabled websites or developing apps for iOS, Android and BlackBerry.
But for those who think they can’t afford it, here’s another interesting stat from the report: 73 per cent of businesses said they employed mobile technologies and digital platforms for marketing purposes and as a result saw revenues increase by between 12 and 15 per cent.
You can look at mobility as a burden, as an extra cost to the IT department. Or you can look at it as a way to improve worker productivity and fundamentally change the way your organization does business — and, ultimately, turn that cost into a profit.