The business case for mobile collaboration

Mobility is front and center on everyone's minds

You hear a lot these days about two topics: mobility and collaboration. Unified communication and collaboration (UCC) is getting promoted by vendors ranging from Microsoft and IBM to Cisco, Avaya and Nortel.

And mobility is front and center on everyone's minds. Most IT folks I talk to expect an exponential increase (more than 100 per cent) in the number of mobile-enabled workers in their organizations over the next 12 months.

The gotcha? How to cost-justify the investment in mobility and collaboration. Mobility is particularly expensive -- the average cost per mobile employee is around US$2,200 per year, including hardware, software, services and support. And in this day and age, something so expensive doesn't get implemented without a solid ROI.

Here are some tactics for creating that ROI for mobility and collaboration.

First, remember two key points: The primary benefit of mobility is that it speeds things up. That is, employees don't need to wait until they're back in the office to access information. The primary benefit of collaboration is that improves overall context -- employees have a better and more targeted information base from which to make decisions.

So when you're looking to make the case for mobility and collaboration, look for scenarios in which improving the timeliness and accuracy of a process can net clear rewards. This usually involves business processes in which employees are working away from their desks -- out in the field, in front of customers, or helping patients in hospitals. (Often, these are employees that don't have a desk in the first place).

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