Industry must talk more with business

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Industry demands better communication between the mobile sector and businesses in the aftermath of Government Spending Review

The mobile industry must do more to promote the efficiency and productivity benefits it can offer both public and private sector organisations, according to leading industry figures.

Speaking in the immediate aftermath of the Government’s Spending Review (October 20), in which chancellor George Osborne outlined spending cuts totalling over £80 billion and public sector job losses of more than 490,000, industry voices said workforce management will be a hot topic going forward and mobile technology offers a viable solution.

Lone worker technology provider Rocksure Systems managing director Ian Johannessen (pictured, bottom right) said organisations will make cuts from back-end operations and look for efficiencies as they aim to protect front-line services, and said: “There are many ways businesses can be more efficient in the use of smart technologies, such as smartphones, to manage workers, allocate them jobs and track their working day.

“Workforce management is a huge huge opportunity for businesses to save money without compromising on quality of services.”

But, said Johannessen, the mobile industry must better promote the services it can offer. “The mobile sector is probably not doing enough. There has been basic PDA applications around for a long time, but they have been clunky and expensive.

“We are now talking about workforce management for the masses through smartphones, and the mobile industry is doing a good job but needs to get the success stories covered better. We need to talk about examples more than features.”

Iain Sinnott, former Timico head of indirect sales and now director of his own company SMECO, (pictured, bottom left) agreed in principal with Johannessen, but said business must do more to help themselves.

Sinnott said: “From the mobile and communications side we have to find a better way of expressing to businesses that a way to pay people 10 per cent less is to get them doing 10 per cent more.

“But likewise business have to wake up and learn that lesson. Businesses should listen to us more carefully about which products can deliver what they’re looking for in cost savings.”

Sinnott added that business bodies such as the Federation of Small Businesses and the CBI should be doing their bit to drive interest in mobile technology.

Sinnott, who is in the first throws of acquiring customers for SMECO, which launched on September 1, said: “I’m in the midst of cold calling people, and frankly they’re not listening enough this early in our relationship to hear what I’m saying. Bodies with influence on the business community have to get employers to open their eyes and look at the tools available.

“The danger is businesses get scared and start believing that the only thing to do in a cost cutting environment is to cut costs and not do anything else, when quite the opposite is true in fact.”

Quocirca principal analyst for service provision and mobility Rob Bamforth (pictured, top right) said there will be opportunities arising as a result of the spending cuts, although they will vary from business to business. Larger existing telecoms suppliers may even find themselves frozen out, he said.

He said: “Larger, incumbent suppliers will find themselves not quick enough to respond and not nimble enough to deal with these opportunities. Smaller, more nimble organisations will be better placed.

“And if you’re an existing supplier, you’re likely to be squeezed harder as companies and government departments look beyond you to save money as you’re already in place.”

Bamforth said outsourcing will be the main way businesses look to cut costs going forward, although, again, there will be winners and losers.

“The two ends of the value chain will become increasingly important. Those close to customers, and those close to the core technology, such as networks, will benefit. Those in the middle, consultants, integrators and the like, will struggle more as they are only adding value and running a margin-on-margin business model.”

This, Bamforth said, suits the network model well as they have a connection to customers supported by the underlying network technology. However, their success will depend on if they recognise these strengths. “They have strong assets in their customer base and the network itself, but will they be able to deliver?,” Bamforth asked.

Unified communications provider Outsourcery chief executive officer Piers Linney (pictured, top left) said outsourcing will be evidenced through the increasing use of cloud-based technologies.

“Companies are looking to new technologies to empower them to be more competitive and agile in tough market conditions, which will enable them to do more with less,” he said.

“This is fundamentally changing the way in which companies are working as they take advantage of the cuts to drive change within the business which has included adoption of practices such as remote working and outsourcing.”

Linney continued: “The fastest adoption is from companies on a fast growth curve but we are finding that all organisations are looking to benefit from the savings and efficiencies that are possible from cloud technologies.

“It now makes absolutely no sense for a small or medium-sized business, and even many smaller corporates, to invest in and maintain IT and communications infrastructure.”