As working and device ownership patterns and methods of accessing information and the internet evolve, business communications systems are having to adapt in several ways, to cope with a world that's becoming predominantly mobile.
Since 2016, there have been more mobile devices on the planet (over 8.6 billion) than people (around 7.3 billion). With this growth in mobile device ownership has come a corresponding shift in device usage habits. Desktop and laptop computer systems are no longer the primary methods for people to conduct business communications or to access the internet. A greater proportion of people across the globe now rely on smartphones and internet-enabled mobile devices for this.
To prepare for the "mobile first" world that is rapidly developing, business communications and operations will have to embrace new technologies and new ways of doing things, in order to keep pace. Several factors will feed into this.
Cloud-based Business Communications
One of the most significant consequences of the shift toward a mobile first world is the increasing dominance of cloud-based systems for business communications. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and related technologies are the driving force behind digital communications systems that exploit the network architecture and infrastructure of the cloud to deliver in-house and hosted telecommunications and business networking environments which are optimised to meet the needs of mobile device users. These systems also greatly benefit the enterprise, in other ways.
In fact, recent studies have found that organisations using cloud-based mobile video collaboration in their business communications are 2.5 times more likely to reduce travel costs, twice as likely to improve customer service and nearly twice as likely to boost employee training and development, than those that aren't. This is in addition to the cost savings and efficiency improvements they enjoy due to the improved performance, enhanced features, and business continuity benefits of cloud-based environments, in comparison to more traditional business communications systems.
Organisations like LG Networks are at the forefront of delivering these benefits, through the provision of hosted VoIP to corporate users.
In the more traditional desktop PC and laptop-based business environment, office productivity has relied on single or corporate installations of local software, and / or a selection of cloud services, web-based applications, and access to online business platforms for sales and marketing management, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and other functions. All of these were designed with larger scale monitors, manual keyboards, and desktop operating systems in mind.
But the workforce of today has become increasingly diverse and dispersed, with remote, home-based, and travelling workers relying more on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile hardware, rather than traditional desktops.
Productivity software and business platforms for the mobile first world must therefore cater extensively for an app-based ecosystem. This must allow workers access from any location to their business communications systems, corporate networks, collaboration and business management platforms and external sources of information and supply. Application design must be conducted with the smaller screens and touch-dominated working practices of mobile device users in mind.
Providers of business communications systems based on VoIP can readily offer an environment with integrated and dedicated mobile apps that enhance business productivity, allow device and operating system-independent access to essential resources, and streamline business processes.
Personalised Content And Delivery
A mobile first economy also demands and makes possible the delivery of personalised, real and near real-time content to consumers. Customers in the mobile economy are getting used to rapid access to information about the products and services they use, and the commercial organisations that deliver them. The more relevant and personal that information is, the better.
This sets the challenge for product and service providers to promote their offerings and nurture their relationships with consumers through the timely and responsive delivery of information and resources. Mobile marketing features like augmented reality (information overlays and customisation of product displays, etc.), in-app promotion, and push notifications are techniques that will empower enterprises to meet these demands.
The judicious use of geo-tagging and location services provides another way for businesses to deliver a more focused and responsive experience to their customers, in a mobile first world. With device users relying on their phones and tablets to direct them toward the commodities and resources closest to them, there are opportunities for marketers to deliver recommendations and special offers based on the proximity of their physical outlets (stores, depots, etc.) to the mobile user.
A Mobile Security Architecture
The addition of mobile phones, wearable hardware, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices to the structure of corporate networks poses increased challenges in maintaining security and managing risks, in a cyber-security threat environment that's also evolving to more effectively target mobile devices, software, and infrastructure. This imposes the demand for an enhanced security architecture, which takes into account the issues of device and end-point protection, app management, user identification and authentication, and mobile device management (MDM).
It should also be remembered that mobile can actually contribute to enterprise security.
Business communications systems built on Internet Protocol (IP) technologies like VoIP and SIP have network redundancy and security features built in, to ensure business continuity, application and service availability, and Disaster Recovery (DR).
Providers of VoIP systems and secure data networking like LG Networks also have the infrastructure and supply chain partnerships necessary for them to act as trusted advisers and partners in enterprise security.
A Mobile Approach To SEO
According to Google’s 2017 Consumer Barometer Study of internet users, there are now more searches conducted on mobile devices than on desktops, in several of the surveyed nations - and mobile internet usage exceeds 50%, in all 63 countries covered by the report.
In response to this trend, Google is switching to a mobile first emphasis for indexing its search pages - and other major search engines are anticipated to follow suit. This approach will emphasise (and push higher in the search rankings) sites and web pages which are constructed as "mobile friendly", and will downplay the importance of internet content that was crafted for more traditional desktop formats.
The mobile first approach to indexing also favours site owners who adopt responsive web design - a dynamic system where web pages are delivered to users in the form most appropriate to their device (desktop format for PC and laptop users, mobile-optimised for phones and tablets). The existing search rankings of pages like these aren't greatly affected by the web-crawling algorithms used by the smartphone bots of mobile first indexes.
But organisations that maintain separate desktop and mobile sites - with their mobile content often different and / or less informative than for desktops - mobile first indexing may well have a serious negative effect.
Business communications systems will typically include tools for maintaining a consistent brand image across multiple channels, and for updating and administering web content.
Internal Business Networking Platforms
Efforts are being made to translate the commercial and operational success of social media networks designed for professionals (the likes of LinkedIn and others) to a form more suited to the mobile first environment. The objectives of this would include facilitating collaboration within and between enterprises, providing secure communications channels, the fast-tracking of recruitment, and improved co-ordination of business processes.
One notable example of this is a start-up operation that's loosely based on the structure of the popular Tinder dating app. The new application is in its early development and usability testing phases. But we can expect other such apps to emerge as mainstream consumer products and privately funded projects, all with the aim of providing internal and outward-facing platforms for networking and business communications, for the mobile first ecosystem.
Businesses can look to organisations such as LG Networks, which provide the infrastructure, technical support, and expertise required for setting up, managing, and maintaining business communications and business networking platforms, to be actively involved in such endeavours.
If you'd like to know more about a mobile first approach to business communications, data networks, and business operations, contact the experts at LG Networks.