Public sector organisations have always had a complicated relationship with mobile devices. They can free you from the office, but tie you to work. They can be a source of productivity, but also a font of distraction. Managing mobile in a Bring-Your-Own-Device environment solved some problems, while creating others. The speakers at Microsoft UK’s Business Transformed event all acknowledged these paradoxes – but they also shared a common conviction that it doesn’t need to be this way.

Here are three ways UK organisations can start to reimagine their relationship with mobile:

  • ·         Move from “Bring-Your-Own-Device” to “Choose-Your-Own-Device.”  The BYOD trend may be starting to plateau in Europe, noted John Delaney, associate vice president of European mobility research at the IDC. Recent IDC studies find that just 36% of companies have a formal BYOD policy. At the same time, companies are beginning to look at “Choose Your Own Device” plans, in which workers pick from an array of pre-vetted devices. Enterprises are in the middle of a shift in their relationship with mobile devices, he said. In the old paradigm, IT departments were worried about managing risks across all possible devices. Now, Delaney said, more companies are focusing on maximising the benefits of mobile working. Using trusted mobile devices with track records of enterprise success can help drive this change, as they allow IT departments to move from reacting to security threats to focusing on optimisation.
  • ·         Move from fighting the “digital deluge” to embracing it. Dave Coplin, Microsoft UK’s Chief Envisioning Officer, has a track record of smart thinking about the way people work. The author of “Business Reimagined” is back with a new book about our relationship with information, “The Rise of the Humans.” Coplin’s take is a refreshing one – the flood of information we receive through our smartphones each day can be a distraction, but it can also be empowering, depending on how we approach it. Right now, workers cope by relying on little mental shortcuts, like skimming messages, snacking on info between tasks and trying (and failing) to multitask. Instead, we should be using Big Data and machine learning tools to harness the flood of information and use it to make better decisions, he said. When data is put to work, it can give organisations holistic understandings of citizens – but also their workers. When organisations make the most of their data, they can begin to deliver transformational experiences through transformational employees using transformational tools, Coplin said.
  • ·         Move to put mobile first with the cloud. Right now UK organisations are struggling to keep up with a flood of enterprise data, devices, applications and users, noted Microsoft UK Corporate Vice President for Device Sales, Chris Weber. Mobile is the cause of some of those problems – but if organisations are willing to rethink their approach, mobile can also be the solution. The key is pairing devices with cloud services in a way that puts people and productivity first. Now that 4G networks have come to the UK, organisations can finally give workers a connection on their mobile device that mirrors the connection they’re used to on their desktop. That means that mobile devices are no longer just a way to check in with the home office. Now employees can use cloud tools to do substantive work wherever they are. Now that we have phones that eliminate the divide between the office and the field and devices that erase the line between tablet and laptop – doesn’t it make sense to put mobile at the heart of everything your IT department does?

Mobile doesn’t have to be a hurdle anymore. With the right approach, it can give organisations a chance to completely reimagine how they get work done.

The morning was rounded out with testimonials from executives from BT, Ricoh, Cambridgeshire Police, Barclays, and Ridgian.  Customers noted how the ability to use familiar programs via the cloud on enterprise-grade devices has changed their approach to mobile and created real, measurable productivity gains.