Mobility and the supply chain have grown increasingly intertwined as the world continues to recover from the pandemic. We've watched over the past 1.5 years as supply chains ebbed and flowed as lockdowns disrupted the flow of goods; workforce disruptions became nearly unavoidable; and consumer demand for certain items spiked more drastically than even the most precise forecasting could have predicted.
Those factors, among others, forced businesses across the global supply chain to more deeply embrace technology to ensure resilience, collaboration and connectedness. From factories and big box retailers to everything in between, investments in supply chain technology increased and mobility was central.
Empowering employees through contextual mobility
Gartner emphasized in its report, Future of Supply Chain: 5 Trends to Act on Now, that CEOs see digitalization as key to shaping their business over the next decade. Nearly 79% said an internet-/platform-based system is the most critical business model to support post-pandemic recovery.
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Mobility is playing an increasingly critical role in future-proofing supply chain operations thanks to its connectivity, collaboration and productivity. From a workforce enablement perspective, it's perhaps the most important driver of business continuity, as it enables a level of operational flexibility that is hard to rival.
Workers today want, and often demand, some level of autonomy while on the job. And, they're increasingly vocal about the systems they wish to utilize at work. Mobile technology is no exception. The ubiquity of smartphones has significantly influenced the way workers across the supply chain want to do their jobs, primarily in the way mobile devices are used personally affects how employees want to use them at work.
In line with that, a national workforce survey conducted by TRUCE Software found 56% of employees believe it's their right to use their personal mobile devices during work. That's the significant majority who think the ability to use their phone on the job isn't just a nice-to-have benefit, but a right that is inherently theirs.
The research also found employees believe mobility is a key enabler of productivity. At nearly 62%, a significant majority of those surveyed said they agree mobile phones or tablets play a key role in helping them be productive at work.
So, how can employers utilize mobile technology to meet workers where they are, allowing the flexibility employees want from their devices without sacrificing safety?
Giving employees access to everything they need when they need it, and never when they don’t
While the tools that enable the work have changed over the past decade, how companies manage those tools remains based on an outdated paradigm that doesn't embrace the flexible nature of mobility and the fluidity of workers. That’s where the concept of context comes in. Businesses using contextual mobility management can limit the functionality of an employee's mobile device based on that person's environment, considering things such as what they are doing and what’s happening around them. As an employee's environment changes throughout a shift, their device permissions do too, automatically and in real time.
This ability to dynamically manage user permissions based on each employee eliminates the guesswork for the employee surrounding what is or isn’t considered acceptable use and enforces the business’ mobile usage policies without relying on employees to police themselves. It eliminates the all-or-nothing approach to mobile device management that many companies still utilize because they don't know there's a more personalized and seamless way to adjust access dynamically; it doesn't require manually regulating user permissions on an ongoing basis. When deemed appropriate, employees can utilize a device’s full range of capabilities. When those capabilities need to be scaled back to focus, those settings automatically take effect based on the employee's context.
While mobile technology is beneficial and necessary, it is essential to recognize that it may not deliver the intended benefits in all situations. After all, what’s acceptable to do in one case — responding to email in the break room — may not be permitted in a very different situation — doing the same while operating heavy machinery or driving a vehicle. Thinking about the world as a series of “zones,” areas defined based on the level of risk, allows for creating rules specific to those environments or situations, whether that’s behind a desk at the office, in a meeting room or lab, driving on the road, working at a job site or anywhere on- or off-premises.
Advanced workforce mobility comes to life when mobile device policies are dynamically enforced based on the context of each user. This is the new model for the modern workforce. If you spend more time focused on prohibiting devices than allowing them, you know it's time to re-think your approach.