The Bold War

Time to Mobilise

It amazes me that in 2012 most banks still insist on dictating the mobile technology used by their workforce. With such a tight grip on access, policies and content, some organisations more closely resemble the ‘police state’ of the former Soviet Union. To maintain control the industry has even resorted to using its own secret police – The BES – which has become the preferred method for maintaining order. All sarcasm aside, mobile investment should not be limited to customer facing services. Here are eight tips to mobilising your workforce before you face a very angry uprising...

Tip 1: Move on and open up

It has become apparent over the last two years that the chosen platform of banks, RIM, no longer has the capabilities or the vision to support today’s modern workforce. The BlackBerry device in conjunction with the ‘lock down' environment that banks have implemented, has left routine activities like accessing a site or video almost impossible. Banks should instead be encouraging this behaviour. Workers want access to content anytime and anywhere. Sure, RIM may be the most secure enterprise solution, but the negatives of the platform are now far outweighed by the positives. As they say, the stats don’t lie. The global slump in RIM sales is a better indicator than any of why banks should move from the platform now.

Tip 2: Don’t own the device

A couple of years ago it was common for employees to only have one mobile device at work; their corporate BlackBerry. Now it’s common to find most people with two or three self purchased devices. The BlackBerry’s poor usability and lack of functionality has left workers desperate. Most have resorted to spending their own money on new work devices. Banks need to let staff manage their own device. They instead need to focus on how they can allow workers to securely access and share the content they need. The majority of workers now have smartphones with richer features than those offered by their corporate device. So which device do you think they want to use?

Tip 3: Make WI-FI mandatory

Can you believe a lot of banks still don’t offer employees free Wi-Fi? A previous employer of mine took months to set up Wi-Fi access and this was only after a major staff back lash. It got so bad that a member of the team had to rig up their own ‘unsanctioned’ hot stop and secretly pass around login credentials. Needless to say, he became the local office hero. We even considered printing ‘Che Guevara’ style t-shirts of his likeness such was the admiration for his one man revolution. With Wi-Fi staff can move around the office and collaborate more freely. They can also benefit from much faster download times. This will particularly come in handy as they access and share more content from their mobiles moving forward.

Tip 4: Review your current approach

Before moving to a more mobilised workforce, banks need to assess their existing operations and processes. It is critical that your strategy is not just thrown over the top of the organisation. The overall group model should be refined to compliment the changes initiated by a mobilised workforce. Anything that is currently done on a desktop or in person should be examined for its potential to be mobilised. Only after looking at the overall picture can banks best prioritise the opportunities that are presented. They can then determine what mobile technology should be deployed to support or even replace existing processes.

Tip 5: Invest in mobile technology

Mobile technology offers so many opportunities for the workforce that it can be hard to know where to begin. From replacing plastic access passes with NFC, to real time performance dash boards. The opportunities are endless. To begin with, banks need to establish a strong architectural framework. It should cover all system components, from the user interface to the data layer. In parallel, banks need to decide whether to outsource or build up their own internal development capability. When developing apps or services for staff, it is important that banks treat staff as they would an end customer. No short cuts can be taken on usability, design or support.

Tip 6: Technology is not enough

Providing greater flexibility to your employees doesn’t just mean building an app and letting staff work from home. The key to success is empowering your staff to decide when, where and how work best fits into their lifestyle. To do this, banks need to operate within an open and trusting culture. This will surely test some senior executives. The demand for greater flexibility in the office however is not something that is going to go away. Banks need to appreciate the benefits from a mobilised workforce. It can lead to greater efficiency and can reduce the cost and environmental footprint of a large property portfolio. There are some great win-win situations to be had for banks and staff.

Tip 7: Establish a benchmark

Most banks don’t have any dedicated productivity experts beyond a handful of Six Sigma black belts who tend to focus on improving customer facing processes. My view is that you need to get your own house in order before you can have any hope of providing better customer service. The best way to do this is to establish a showcase department. Create a team that will be the case study for your mobilised workforce. Ensure they have the right environment, technology and leadership support to succeed. Encourage staff from around the organisation to visit, observe and participate. Conduct detailed analysis before, during and after the roll out to see if key productivity and satisfaction metrics have improved.

Tip 8: Be ready for the unexpected

Mobile is the WMD (Weapon of Mass Disruption) of this decade. No industry, product or channel will be immune to its disruptive capabilities. With any ground breaking innovation, the true potential and consequences of its adoption won’t be known until after it has happened. Moving to a mobilised workforce could have unintended consequences too. Over time staff productivity and motivation could drop. Workers may struggle to communicate openly when they are required in face to face situations. Greater flexibility at work could encourage a freelance working culture. It is important that banks support and monitor staff during the transition and adapt their strategy where required.

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