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Enterprise Mobility - Setting Our Business Free
By Stewart Carmichael, Chief Technology Officer, Schroders [LSE: SDR]
OK, I hear you say, very admirable but not revolutionary. However, many say it, but we are actually doing it.
In September 2018, we moved our entire headquarters to new purpose-built offices for all 2500 London-based employees. This followed similar moves for both our US and Singapore hubs. We used the opportunity to implement a truly mobile and digital work environment. The transformation has fundamentally changed our toolset, ranging from virtual desktop and applications, cloud adoption, primary data centre relocation, mobile and remote technology, ‘intelligent building’ systems, and the adoption of agile delivery and working practices.
Demand for change
In the highly-competitive financial services environment, new needs have emerged: mobility, seamless experience across devices, self-service, unified communications and global social collaboration. Traditional methods of delivering workplace services can’t meet these needs. It calls for the holistic planning of environment, tools and technology as value-added differentiating elements.
We recognise digital workplace as equal in significance to the physical workplace and Schroders’ business is conducted and operated in both spaces.
If we want to realise the value of Enterprise Mobility, it’s not enough to change the underlying technology. Our success depends on being the employer of choice in our industry, and we are committed to revolutionising the tools that we offer employees.
The context in which our employees operate is being transformed by a number of things: increasing speed of communication; the quantity of knowledge available; and the need to be productive wherever they happen to be. Engaged employees demand effective tools to do their job, so we are seeking and adopting tools that reflect this context.
A couple of examples of where we’re partnering with start-ups so we can adopt tools that will move the needle are Capriza and Qwil Messenger.
Engaged employees demand effective tools to do their job
Capriza offers a set of mobile applications that simplify basic business processes, without the necessity to change underlying legacy systems. We have focussed on admin processes such as approvals, expenses, compliance and absence. The apps are designed to exploit ‘micro-moments’ – those key opportunities, such as waiting for a lift – to allow you to complete everyday tasks that only take a few minutes.
QwilMessenger is a fintech startup in which Schroders has invested as part of our innovation programme – Cobalt. Its instant messaging solution solves a real industry challenge, increasing the ease of mobile communication between our employees, clients and partners while ensuring the highest standards of information security and confidentiality. Crucially, it allows us to do this while being compliant in the context of our highly regulated industry.
Meanwhile, we’re also rolling out more mainstream cloud-based collaboration and mobile tools, such as the ones offered as part of Microsoft’s Office 365 suite.
So, as I’ve shown, we’re not just talking about Enterprise Mobility, we’ve actually implemented the technology across the whole business, and put the tools in the hands of our employees, so that they can live and breathe the potential that mobility offers.
But technology and tools on their own are not enough. We are also paying attention to the cultural and behavioural implications.
As architects of mobility, we need to be mindful of the impact that has on people – does it inadvertently promote the ‘always on’ tendency that could lead to poor work-life balance? How do we help people benefit from mobility by allowing them to shape work around their life, rather than it becoming the tyranny of the constantly vibrating mobile in their pocket?
Mobility also brings global differences into greater focus. Time-zone differences, when scheduling calls or using instant messaging are only the start. True mobility means we need consistent and integrated technology wherever our employees are operating in the world. However, local working practices and even regulatory demands could lead to differences in the way that the technology is adopted globally.
And finally, there’s the risk of fragmentation. Where there are only very few tools available – telephone and email for example – everyone will use them. However, if there are multiple messaging and collaboration options on offer, different teams and individuals may adopt very different working practices, and risk becoming isolated from one another.
There is no silver bullet to help us leverage the vast potential of Enterprise Mobility, while avoiding all the complications. But the conclusion is clear, don’t focus only on the implementation of the tech, while ignoring the less tangible impacts. Make sure that cultural change is an integral part of your Enterprise Mobility strategy.