Stop monkeying around: Devices aren't the secret to mobile productivity

Merely giving people iPhones and Androids is like giving monkeys typewriters -- you need to focus on business needs

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Understand, mobility isn't about having a smartphone or a tablet. It's not about being able to use Wi-Fi or cellular. People don't just become productive because you've given them a new device. This is one of the issues facing many companies today. They read about BYOD or companies that have saved tons of money or become more productive by giving out smartphones and tablets. They see posts from the big analyst firms and articles in the New York Times about the importance of mobility. Yet, most of the time these companies miss the meat of these stories because they don't understand it.

You see, you can give an infinite number of smartphones and tablets to an infinite number of monkeys, but it's highly doubtful any of them will crank out a work of Shakespeare, much less a usable white paper. It's not the devices that make them productive.

Mobility is about equipping people with the best tools they can use when and where they need to, to be productive. An iPhone 5 isn't a tool. Neither is a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet. A tool is when you marry a great app with a great device. It's the combination of these two pieces that make the tool that allows you to enable your people so they can be more flexible and agile.

Sure, it's great to be able to answer a phone in Timbuktu or surf the Web from Kalamazoo, but chances are that's not what you need your users doing. You want them to be able to close that sales call, fix that server, run that clinical trial, or consult that airplane flight book. These are all the things that allow your people to be more productive and efficient while being flexible and agile. It's about enabling them to do their job and fulfill the business requirements of what they're working on.

The right business strategy isn't to give people the latest smartphone. It's to give people the tools they need to get the job done and make money.

The ability I have, because of the apps we have chosen to marry to our devices, allows me to do things like write a white paper at 30,000 feet after watching three movies and have it automatically added to my work repository when I land, without ever plugging my device in for power. I can then reference that same paper while on a conference call on the way home in the car.

Although I may not be able to write a sonnet like Shakespeare, I can still be more productive than ever before because I have the right tools for the job. Without the right tools, you just get monkeys at typewriters.

This article, "Stop monkeying around: Devices aren't the secret to mobile productivity," originally appeared at A Screw's Loose and is republished at with permission (© Brian Katz). Read more of Brian Katz's The Squeaky Wheel blog at or at A Screw's Loose. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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