Company phones can be a useful way of keeping in touch with staff on the road such as sales people and site based workers. Their practicality makes them an integral business tool, and the evolution of phones over the years means that the latest models have also become something as a staff incentive. Receiving the latest phone as a reward for achievement can be an effective way of motivating staff when bonuses may be hard to come by, but do the latest smart phones really lend themselves to business?
An interesting article in the Sydney Morning Herald highlights the consumer lead focus of most new smart phones, with apps and games being mostly consumer focussed rather than business focussed. At present, the smart phone market doesn’t seem to cater for business led apps that might help companies improve the way they work, especially in the B2B sector. Social media and entertainment dominate what is on offer in the app market at present, meaning the benefits to business by offering smart phones as business gifts would not appear to be there.
Can we expect this situation to change in the near future? At the moment it’s a case of who develops first, the phone manufacturers or online businesses taking advantage of the changes in technology. If there was a cry from online businesses for more development in business based phones there would surely be a reaction from the mobile operators. There may well be a need for business based apps too, with sales people being able to order stock on the move and interact with client’s websites on the go. It seems like the next big technological move will be a switch to mobile internet, but at present the business world has been slow to catch up, and the benefits to companies of offering staff the latest smart phones as a business gift actually appear to be outweighed by the possible drawbacks.
IT departments around the country have spent time and effort ensuring their systems are safe and secure, and that staff can’t access sites they shouldn’t be accessing during work time. The smart phone takes all of this out of their hands. Staff can now access sites such as Facebook on their phones, so the efforts of the IT guys in restricting access to social networks are all in vein given how easy the smart phone makes it to interact with social networks. All of a sudden the business gifts that were intended to reward achievement may well end up hindering productivity.
So what can companies learn from this? Well apart from the incentive qualities they possess, smart phones don’t currently offer many benefits to business. If you are considering using smart phones as business gifts, it could open up a whole new bunch of problems unless the IT team can put the same controls on the phones that currently exist on the computer system, but if they are going to block all of the smart phone capabilities then what is the point in using them in the first place? At the moment, company mobile phones are only useful for making calls and checking emails, so for the time being it may well be in the businesses best interests to stick with a standard phone. There are also plenty of alternative business gifts out there that will help to reward success but won’t hit productivity so hard.