Untethered Executives– Mobile, Accessible, Connected– Smartphones, Tablets, Laptops..: Age of Business Mobility…

Mobile devices reflect a major shift in the way business executives and professionals work… An overwhelming 83% of those surveyed would give up their morning cup of coffee before parting with smartphone…

Mobile communications– in the form of smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other Internet-enabled devices– are fundamentally altering the way business executives communicate, interact with information. These devices don’t simply untether executives from the office, but provide a way to access– essential work related content irrespective of location or circumstance.

Much has been written about how smartphones and other mobile devices are changing the way people communicate, but little has been done to understand what the implications of this shift has on the executive suite. Are executives willing to use their smartphones for business purposes beyond email? Is information they access via mobile devices being used to help drive business decisions?

Do different generations of executives treat mobility differently, and are some more willing– to blur the lines between business and personal communications devices? To gain a better understanding of how executives approach mobility; ‘Forbes Insights’, in association with Google, surveyed more than 300 executives at large U.S. companies (more than $500 million in annual revenues).

The goal of the survey was not to find out how companies are approaching mobility, but rather to gain a clearer picture of how the executives themselves are using– mobile devices, laptops, tablets-ipads… to gather and filter the business information they need for their jobs. Also, in addition to the survey; one-on-one interviews were conducted with nine senior level executives at these large businesses to gain deeper, first-hand insights into how they’re tackling business information.

This study serves as a mobile-focused follow-up to 2009’s ‘The Rise of the Digital C-Suite’, a study published by ‘Forbes Insights’ (also in association with Google) that found that how executives use the Internet for business frequently depends on– age and work experience of executives. Generational differences also help define how executives are using mobile devices in their information gathering mix.

While it may not have a categorical impact on device ownership, it does help determine how they are using the devices to gather information, or for that matter, whether or not the device drives the information gathering task. Key findings in the study:

  • Smartphones are second only to laptops in executives arsenal of devices: While 87% of executives use a laptop, 82% indicated they have a smartphone.
  • Many executives utilize a full array of devices for business purposes: On average, respondents had 3.46 devices each; CEOs (4.21 devices), CFOs (4.22 devices).
  • Most executives still think of their computers as their most important device: More than eight in ten use their laptop (45%) or desktop (37%) computer most frequently for business. A sizable minority– 12%, use a smartphone most often.
  • More than half of senior executives agreed that their mobile device is now their primary communications tool: Among executives under age 40, 73% see their mobile device as more critical to communications than their landline.
  • All signs point to a mobile future: 45% of senior corporate executives said they believe a smartphone or Web-enabled tablet will be their primary device  for business related use within three years.

In the article 4 Critical Steps to Defend Your Mobile Gadgets” by dsbiz writes: Business people have become highly dependent on mobile devices that keep them– connected, efficient, flexible and independent no matter where they are. In other words, we are addicted to our mobile gadgets that link us to the business world.

To stay nimble and ahead of the game, we must be able to respond to any request (e.g., call, email, social media post, text message…), research anything (e.g., customer background, solutions to problems…), and stay current on what’s happening in our field of influence (e.g., breaking news, tweets…) even when we are out of the office.

But the same gadgets that give us a distinct competitive advantage, if left unprotected, can give data thieves and unethical competitors a huge and unfair criminal advantage. The solution, of course, is to proactively protect your mobile office, whether it’s– digital, physical, or both. To protect yourself and your company from becoming victims of mobile data theft, start with the following:

  • Make sure that employees aren’t installing data hijacking apps on their smartphones and tablets thinking that they are harmless games.
  • Implement basic mobile security on all mobile devices, including; secure passwords, remote tracking and wiping, auto-lock, auto-wipe and call-in account protection.
  • Only utilize protected Wi-Fi connections to access the Web. Free hotspots are constantly monitored by data sniffers looking to piggyback into your corporate website.
  • Don’t ignore non-digital data theft risks like client files left in cars, hotel rooms, and off-site offices. The tendency to over-focus on digital threats leaves your physical flank (e.g., documents, files, paper trash…) exposed.

In an article in ‘The Economist’ writes:  Smartphones are the best excuse yet devised for procrastination. Smartphones make it easier for managers to change their minds at last moment: for example, to e-mail a minion at 11 pm to tell him he must fly to Pittsburgh tomorrow. The dratted devices also make it easier for managers in one time zone to spoil evenings of managers in another.

Employees find it ever harder to distinguish between ‘on-time’ and ‘off-time’ and indeed between ‘real work’ and ‘make-work’. Executives are lumbered with two overlapping workdays; a formal one full of meetings, and an informal one spent trying to keep up with the torrent of e-mails and messages. None of this is good for business people’s marriages or mental health. It may be bad for business, too. What can be done to keep smartphones in their place?

How can we reap benefits of connectivity without becoming its slaves? One solution is digital dieting. According to Leslie Perlow, she argues that for most people the only way to break the 24/7 habit is to act collectively rather than individually. She tells the story of how the Boston Consulting Group learned to manage hyper-connectivity better. The firm introduced rules about when people were expected to be offline, and encouraged them to work together to make this possible. Many macho consultants mocked the exercise, at first– surely only wimps switch off their smartphones…

But, eventually, the practice encouraged people to work more productively while reducing burnout… ‘Ofcom’, Britain’s telecommunications regulator, says; a startling 60% of young adults, who use smartphones, describe themselves ‘highly addicted’ to their devices… and, so do 37% of older adults. In fact, the faster smartphones become and the more alluring are the apps that are devised for them, the stronger the addiction will grow. But ultimately, it’s up to companies to outsmart smartphones and insist that everyone turn them off from time-to-time…

The “2012 ICT Market Review & Forecast (MR&F) Report” by Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) says; smartphones, tablets and the cloud– will drive ‘U.S. network infrastructure spending’ to $300 Billion, by 2015. Findings from the report focus on the impact of the growth of; smartphones, tablets, cloud-related services, and video streaming. These devices and services are driving dramatic traffic and demanding increased network infrastructure investment.

TIA’s President Grant Seiffert said; The rapid advance of smartphones, cloud services and video is placing an enormous demand on the network. These devices and services are essential for consumers and have become critical for businesses. Companies that support both wired and wireless networks are expected to spend nearly 41% more in next four years than in the previous four years… Key facts in the report include:

  • U.S. spending on wireless and wired network infrastructure will grow to $296 billion, by 2015.
  • Spending on U.S. IT-based cloud computing will be the fastest-growing category.
  • In 2013 consumers will spend $108 billion on wireless data and $91.5 billion on wireless voice.
  • Telecom spending in U.S. will top $1.1 trillion, in 2012.
  • International telecom spending will reach $3.6 trillion, in 2012 (not including U.S.).
  • Combined telecom spending will top $4.7 trillion, in 2012, and will surpass $5 trillion, in 2013.

The ‘office’ doesn’t always mean– four walls, desk, chair… For many businesses the office can mean– car, factory floor, coffee shop, customer’s conference room…

According to David Day; the mobile workforce has been greatly aided by advancement in technology. Businesses are adopting to– smartphones, laptops, tablets, WiFi, and other mobile tools at incredible rates. A survey found that 96% of business respondents use wireless technology. Nearly two-thirds said they couldn’t survive– or, it would be a major challenge to survive, without wireless technology. Increasingly, wireless is being used by a mobile workforce: 40% of businesses report all their employees use wireless devices or wireless technology, to work away from the office.

Overall there’s been a 66% jump over past two years. Mobile technology provides solutions in many different areas for throughout a company, from– sales and marketing to human resources to production… ‘Mobility can impact every aspect of business in positive ways’, said Pierre Bardeau. While this technology is gaining ground; the people who are actually using it might surprise you: It’s not just Gen-Y; but also, Gen-X who have adopted technology at a rate of 65% higher than other generational groups.

A report by ‘Technaisle’ estimated that the fastest growing segment is small business. According to John French; Small business have a competitive advantage over larger business as they use mobile technology to leverage flexibility and adaptability. They can make more informed and quicker decisions to meet specific needs of their customers. But, in addition to the potential for deploying mobile technology in their own businesses, companies must also be prepared to meet increasing demands from their– customers’ mobile capabilities, and design websites and services that are user-friendly for mobile devices.

The power, capabilities, and mobility of a full range of business focus mobile smart devices continue to evolve and grow. This innovative technology and support services will provide executives with a future of unprecedented connectivity, accessibility, and flexibility… Senior executives will be able to engage work from; where-ever they are (anywhere),  when-ever they need it (anytime), with who-ever they want(anyone), and have unprecedented functionality…

Our lives and jobs are so enmeshed with this technology that it makes it difficulty to balance the boundaries between personal and work, especially with the intense pressure from organizations to be ‘always on’ and ‘immediately responsive’ to calls and emails outside of normal working hours…