These days, it’s hardly news that enterprises are increasingly reliant on mobile and remote workers for business-critical activities. How much so? But by one estimate, the mobile workforce will account for more than 43 percent of the entire global workforce by 2023.

With so many workers out of the office, reliable mobile connectivity is now an essential requirement for business success, with real consequences when it fails. If, for instance, a sales or customer support representative is troubleshooting a poor wireless connection or can’t access an essential application when they need it, they’re not focusing on the customer. That kind of problem, aggregated across an entire business, can drive down revenue, reduce customer satisfaction and loyalty, and kill productivity.

Ideally, IT departments should be able to leverage all the real-time mobile performance data that modern devices generate to improve employee uptime. They could spot issues and proactively fix them before they impact an employee in the field, more quickly fix issues that do crop up, and make better deployment decisions (like which networks and devices to use) in order to prevent problems from occurring in the first place.

But, in practice, that’s not really happening. Instead, when there’s a problem in the field, IT is usually the last to know. And problems, when they are addressed, are usually prioritized by who complains the loudest. Worse, some problems go unreported as employees find their own workarounds.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Today’s devices are capable of recording a wealth of mobile performance data–on users, their devices, applications and networks. Properly collected and analyzed, that data can help IT fix mysterious problems and eliminate surprises. Not only can IT use this data to respond to complaints more quickly, they can be alerted to performance issues and address them before there’s a service interruption.

IT teams today have access to a much greater volume of high-quality data than in the past, drawn from multiple sources, that can be aggregated and used to improve and accelerate decision-making. These include:

  • Device throughput: This can help identify whether poor network performance is an isolated problem or a pervasive one, and it can also help IT teams determine whether to seek help from their carrier or device manufacturer.
  • Real-time application performance: Many business-critical applications (like voice and video conferencing) are dependent on throughput and low latency. This data can identify whether a performance problem is due to device or configuration issues (device drivers or antenna location, for instance) and point to a fix.
  • Cellular tower performance: Knowing that certain cellular towers are consistently underperforming, IT teams can advise mobile workers to switch to an alternate carrier or to WiFi when they enter an area serviced by a poorly performing tower.

Of course, data by itself has limited impact if it’s not turned into action. So, here’s a straightforward 4-step process for using mobile data to improve employee uptime in the field.

  • Collect essential mobile device data: As mentioned above, it’s there for the taking.
  • Prioritize data and reports: Focus on what’s most important and meaningful for your organization and review regularly.
  • Set policies: Not all performance problems are technology-driven. Some are caused by employees making choices that have negative consequences.
  • Measure changes over time: Most organizations need to monitor performance over time to fine-tune their deployments and policies.

For enterprises, using data proactively to keep mobile workers online and productive has obvious and direct business benefits. Not only does it empower them to do their jobs more effectively, it frees IT resources for other critical tasks. Moreover, as enterprises continue to spend heavily on mobility – an estimated $1.6 trillion in 2018 – it’s imperative that they get the most out of those investments.

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