The critical role of mobile connectivity in CX


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Ensuring that employees can respond to customers quickly was a much easier task when employees primarily worked inside the protected confines of the corporate network perimeter. But now, with the majority of workers regularly working beyond the corporate network and on mobile networks (which businesses have little information or control over), businesses face a number of challenges in ensuring the same speed and quality of engagement with customers. This problem could quickly get out of hand if not addressed early, as the number of mobile workers in the U.S. has been predicted to reach nearly three quarters (72.3%) of the total workforce as soon as next year.

An employee’s poor experience using mobile devices can stem from a range of factors. This not only leads to frustration and inefficient use of time; when compounded, it puts a significant strain on customer interactions. Common problem areas include:

• Hard-to-use corporate mobile security solutions. Because mobile devices frequently carry sensitive data and are used to access proprietary corporate applications and resources, enterprises usually employ security tools and policies to lock them down. But those tools themselves can hinder productivity. For instance, some systems block or restrict emails with attachments. Other tools designed to prevent unauthorized access, like multifactor authorization (MFA) systems, can add time to the device or application login process. Virtual private network (VPN) solutions, which create protected network connections, often have confusing interfaces or don’t log data that’s useful for IT troubleshooting and policy management. If employees need to waste time fumbling with logins, who is caring for the customer?

• Non mobile-friendly business-critical applications. Many companies have legacy applications (often custom-developed) for mainframes that were designed and optimized for the wired networks of yore. These are now being cobbled together into mobile applications with a far from stellar user experience. That’s especially true for older industries like banks, healthcare, shipping, airlines, construction, utilities and field engineering. Even some newer apps get tripped up by the poor connectivity and network interruptions that are common with mobile. While recoding these applications can be expensive and time-consuming, it’s often worth it in the long run in order to enhance the customer experience.

• Lack of visibility into mobile networks. Unlike the networks they own and control, enterprises typically don’t have visibility into third-party networks. They can’t answer which carriers have the best coverage and performance. They have no way of knowing what’s behind an issue that mobile workers are reporting. For IT teams, this lack of visibility makes it difficult and sometimes impossible to diagnose and fix problems for workers out on the road or to plan effectively for a mobile deployment.

• Difficulty moving between networks. There are a number of industries that are extremely reliant on mobile devices and workers — salespeople, repair workers, delivery drivers, even our police. During the course of any day, those workers frequently switch between cell towers, between 3G and 4G networks, between corporate networks and cellular, etc. Those transitions aren’t always as smooth as they should be. Sometimes a device will “prefer” Wi-Fi over cellular even when the Wi-Fi signal is poor. When a transition fails, it can cause apps to fail, forcing workers to login again or reenter data, taking their attention away from the customer.

Thankfully, there are a number of ways IT leaders can mitigate these problems and enhance the productivity of mobile workers. They should:

Start with good data. Companies need to monitor devices to understand how data is being used and how traffic is being generated. In particular, pay attention to throughput, latency, and the applications and domains workers are using.

Modify or rewrite apps for mobile. Abandoning legacy applications or rewriting them to be mobile friendly is a serious undertaking, but the long-term benefits make it worthwhile. Having a way to accommodate the corporate application while it is being ported to a pure mobile application is key. There are products that help with this transition and allow instant access to legacy applications while that can turn them mobile with less development than porting the whole application. Another option is middleware that can create a mobile experience while still utilizing the mainframe data. When workers refuse to use the technology they’re given because it hinders their productivity, the workarounds are almost always more problematic.

Strike the right balance between usability and security. We all know that security plays a critical role in the delivery of applications. When evaluating solutions be sure that your VPN, as an example, is compatible with standard authentication methods and integrates with the company’s mobile device management (MDM) solution. Regarding MFA, increasingly sophisticated methods are becoming available here as well. It started with a single text to your phone, then an authenticator application on your phone to now just pushing a button. In addition, businesses should make sure reporting of issues is either automated with analytics or that the helpdesk process is easy for users to report issues.

Focus on seamless connectivity. A mobile workforce needs to be just as effective as their office-bound peers. So invest in Unified Communications (UC) tools, and VPN or Software Defined Perimeter (SPD) solutions that help workers stay secure and connected as they move from network to network.

Taking these relatively simple steps to enhance the mobile experience will give organizations valuable insight into the various networks their employees are using. It will also help provide a better QoS experience that matches what employees expect inside the office. Ultimately, enhancing employee productivity and performance will deliver customers the kind of quality experience they will remember.

Clarence Foster
Clarence Foster is Vice President of Security and IT at NetMotion Software (https://www. He is responsible for the management and strategy of the Customer Support, IT and NOC Operations groups. Foster received a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice along with majors in Business and Economics from Washington State University.


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