V3 Enterprise Mobility Summit: Expectations driven by consumer technology have led the British Army to consider the role of mobility in its IT operations, according to the Army HQ's system chief.
Craig Collins, head of systems development for ICS Ops at Army HQ, said that the rapid evolution and adoption of consumer gadgets is leading to a culture shift in how Army staff use mobile technology.
He explained that military workers expect access to the same standard of technology in the workplace as they use at home, and wish to use it to work in a more flexible way.
"It's about bringing the home into the workplace. People have got that expectation now," he said.
Collins noted that for organisations to embrace mobility, "smaller, iterative changes" are needed to ensure that the shift is carried out effectively and securely.
The key steps to mobility were discussed by Collins as part of the V3 Enterprise Mobility Summit.
He was joined on a panel by Ann Bevitt, partner at law firm Cooley LLP, Luke Lanchester, lead technologist at digital product studio 383, and Stuart Dommett, business IT evangelist at Intel.
Security was touted as the major obstacle to adopting a full mobile strategy that embraces freedom to use work mobile devices outside the office.
With access to secret and classified information, Collins noted that this was an obvious concern for the Army. "We have a lot of security constraints that prevent people doing some work at home," he said.
Bevitt echoed Collins's view, adding that other organisations, particularly those that deal with regulated and sensitive information, like law firms, need to consider how they manage data security outside their offices.
"We need to make sure we're protecting that information at home just as well as we are in the office," she said.
Other areas relating to mobility were discussed, such as the role of wearable technology in the workplace, the adaptable working hours that remote working can facilitate, and the hardware being adopted.
The panel also discussed how more mobile working may have an effect on how workers interact, particularly if more meetings are carried out remotely.
"People still rely on seeing the whites of their eyes," said Collins, going on to explain that face-to-face meetings enable better communication in terms of reading body language.
Lanchester agreed, adding: "We [at 383] still find that face-to-face meetings are crucial to getting across the nuances."
While the panel noted the challenges and restrictions that hamper rapid adoption of mobility in an organisation, they all concluded that it needs to be supported by the business and facilitated through better technology use.
Dommett said that companies must approach mobility as a very different style of working and determine the elements that work for them.
"It's about understanding those steps to enable the workforce, not just through technology, but through procedure," he said. "Transforming the workplace is an element of seeing what type of business we need to be to be successful."
Lanchester added that businesses need to consider mobility if they want to be flexible in how they manage growth. "Larger organisations are hitting bottlenecks as they grow," he said.
Mobile devices are central to mobility, and companies will need to prepare their systems for more smartphone use if they want to avoid risking corporate data.
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