Is Mobile Making Us More Productive?

Kelly Manthey


contact_usA recent article published in the Wall Street Journal by Dennis K. Berman (@dkberman) grabbed my attention. The author opens with these words. The visual of this actually made me laugh out loud:

"Imagine you woke up each morning, strapped a keyboard, monitor, Wi-Fi receiver, desktop computer, camera and stereo to your body, and ventured clumsily out the door. Of course, you're already doing it. You're using a smartphone, and today that thin slab has roughly the same computing power as the powerful desktops of 2005."

Mr. Berman is challenging the fact that we have all this power tethered to us 24x7 yet the productivity gains are on a much smaller scale, that we aren't wholesale eliminating people-intensive jobs because of mobile. He points out that while the technology may exist, changing people's behaviors and adoption of new ways of doing things is much slower.

I completely agree that mobile isn't making making us more productive on the macro level just yet, however, all of the micro or task level productivity gains are nothing to sneeze at either. Here are my observations:

At the personal level
Mobile has enabled me to completely eliminate the need to set aside time each week to manage my household finances. Balancing a checkbook....what's that? I'm doing everything through my smartphone on my Citibank and Mint applications. And on top of that, I'm doing it when I have idle time - waiting in line, commuting on the subway, etc.

Shopping, connecting with my doctor, and scheduling appointments are all things I am doing from my phone when I have pockets of time.

At the enterprise level
Two big areas we, Solstice Mobile, are seeing as ripe for mobile productivity gains are content distribution and sales meeting preparation.

We are building tablet interfaces that sit on top of enterprise content management systems to allow access to documents on the go. It's much more than basic mobile reader access to files. We are enhancing and improving the customer relationship management process through more targeted and engaging content.

Here is a use case: Imagine the financial services relationship manager that walks a customer through his portfolio performance documents via a remote controlled iPad. No more paper printouts or PowerPoints and projectors, but rather a couple of ipads connecting to secure and visually rich content. The preparation time for the relationship manager is cut in half by simply accessing files that already exist in a more visually appealing display. If an up-sell opportunity arises, centrally managed marketing materials can be accessed in a secure way. These documents can be shared real-time saving not only on follow-up time, but also speeding up the sales cycle by capturing the moment. Beyond these documents there is also the ability to expose important information about a client from CRM applications, as well as, industry specific news feeds in one central location. We are seeing the game of relationship management change through the use of graphically rich sales productivity tablet tools.

How are you seeing mobile being used - is it a productivity killer thanks to games like Angry Birds and social media use on mobile? Or, have you experienced the use cases for productivity gains at work or in your personal life?