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Global Research Shows Mobilizing Your Small Business Creates Competitive Edge

Almost one in five (18%) small businesses in the U.S., Canada and Australia are achieving productivity gains of more than 30% by adopting mobile workstyles, enabling people to work whenever, wherever and however they choose. The research, sponsored by Citrix, also suggests that number may be rising, as 34% of small businesses globally say they are under more pressure to introduce or increase mobile/flexible work practices than they were five years ago.

Conducted by YouGov, the survey consisted of 1,250 small businesses across Europe, North America and Australia. In response to the consumerization of IT and the rapid adoption of mobile and cloud technologies, the survey was designed to explore the impact of mobile workstyles on productivity and management, and to determine how consumer-driven tools are being adopted in the workplace as part of the broader move towards more flexible work. The survey results emphasize the importance of mobility and collaboration technologies in enabling more agile and responsive organizations, and show that mobile workstyles are not just about devices but also about people and the changing nature of work.

While European small businesses have not yet seen the same efficiency gains as their North American or Australian counterparts (8% as opposed to 18%), the continent is ahead in establishing governance and management for personalized devices used for business purposes. Despite continuing global concerns over network security, almost one third (32%) of European small businesses sampled have policies, processes and IT systems in place to manage employees’ personal devices being used for business (also known as BYOD), compared to only 26% in the U.S., Canada and Australia.

“It’s great to see a ‘work anywhere, with anyone’ environment delivering such big improvements in productivity, most obviously in North America and Australia, and that the demand for flexible work continues to grow,” says Brett Caine, senior vice president and general manager, Online Services division at Citrix. “However, it’s a concern that two-thirds of businesses overall still don’t have the tools and processes to control remote access to their corporate networks.”

By the Numbers:

Changing Workstyles

  • Growing demand for flexible working: As stated above, 34% of small businesses say they are under more pressure to introduce or increase mobile/flexible work practices than they were five years ago. This is most evident in France (49%) and Australia (37%).
  • Greatest pressure for workstyle change comes from employees: 29% of respondents cited employees provide the greatest pressure for change, outweighing any external drivers including budget, productivity or competitive advantages.
  • Demand for use of personal devices across the business: 42% of small businesses confirmed demand for combined business and personal use devices is no longer confined to customer-facing or remote-based staff but is coming from all departments.
  • Personal device use for business becoming commonplace: 59% of decision-makers stated their staff already uses their personal communications devices for business purposes, most evident in the U.S. (68%) and Canada (65%), compared to 47% in the UK.
  • Making life easier is the #1 driver: 55% stated that the strongest driver for combined business and personal use of their devices is that it makes employees’ lives easier. This reflects the drive by individuals to achieve more efficiency managing both their professional and personal lives as the distinction between work and social environment becomes blurred.
  • Smartphone becoming most relied on device: When business leaders were asked what devices they rely on most, 65% said smartphones, significantly higher than the number still relying on PCs (58%). Tablets are also recognized as key business tools (25%).

Collaboration & Productivity Drivers

  • Small businesses believe social collaboration can benefit productivity: 45% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that social collaboration tools make meetings more productive, rising to 63% in France. This could reflect the French government’s current digital drive, with French small and medium businesses in particular recognizing that these tools enable teams on the move to save time and work more efficiently.
  • Companies believe a mobile strategy can help address seasonal business changes: With almost one third (32%) of respondents stating they experience a drop in productivity during the summer, 41% believe that offering a mobile strategy would reduce the impact this has on the business.
  • Accessibility to quality technology is a key driver for collaboration service usage: The number one reason for the growth in use of collaboration tools such as video conferencing is the widespread availability of technologies such as high definition (HD) video and audio, confirmed by 35% of respondents. The ability of such tools to enable both flexible working and face-to-face collaboration with remotely-located partners or customers is also important (both cited by 32%), as work teams are now more dispersed.
  • Social collaboration adoption tied to business: The increased use of social collaboration tools in the workplace is being driven most by small businesses' ability to support effective remote working (cited by 44% of respondents) and by more intuitive, simpler, user interfaces (cited by 39%).
  • Videoconferencing no longer just an “enterprise” service: 52% of small businesses globally are using video conferencing tools at work, and 45% believe these tools will make their meetings more productive. More than one quarter (27%) of senior executives spend more time in meetings than they did five years ago.

“The 2013 survey highlights a major shift from the findings of a similar study in 2011. Pressure to work wherever, whenever and however we choose is more common. The real value of social collaboration lies in enabling greater creativity and innovation, by allowing those inside and outside the company to work better together, serving customers, creating value and improving the quality of life,” says Caine.

The Citrix Global Small Business Consumerization of IT results can be found here.

Published Thursday, June 06, 2013 6:37 AM by David Marshall
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