Joe Langner is Executive Vice President of Mid-Market Solutions for Sage North America. A seasoned executive with more than 25 years’ experience, Mr. Langner is responsible for driving the Sage Mid-Market business strategy. This encompasses the Sage 100, 300, and 500 ERP solutions, as well as Sage ERP X3 and Sage CRM.
Sage is a leading global supplier of business management software and services for small and midsized businesses. The Sage Group plc., formed in 1981, was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1989 and now employs more than 13,500 people and supports more than 6 million customers worldwide.
Sage North America has recently announced the results of their mobile device survey, where they polled 490 small and midsized businesses (SMB) in the United States.
MO: Was there anything in the survey responses that surprised you or did the findings confirm what you already knew?
Joe: What was surprising were the mobiles devices used. Smartphones came in at 81%, slightly edging out the more traditional laptop (80%). But, tablet usage came in higher than expected at 57%. Though this is a relatively new device in the market, we have more than half of our respondents using tablets to do business remotely.
And, in the manufacturing and distribution segment, employees are using smartphones and tablets more than laptops. This suggests that workers are taking advantage of tablets for its quick accessibility and application—they can quickly turn on their tablets and not have to wait for them to boot up.
MO: Can you elaborate on the significance of finding that companies who use remote devices feel that it has had a positive effect on their company’s productivity?
Joe: 85% of respondents reported positive results from their employees’ use of mobile devices for work. This high percentage suggests that employers are seeing a lot of value from mobile technology. It’s no longer something employers are afraid will take away from productivity but rather will improve efficiency and, ultimately, the bottom line.
MO: Can you talk about the growing trend of a “bring your own device” (BYOD) policy and what kind of advantages it can provide both employees and employers?
Joe: When asked about having a BYOD policy, 48% responded that they already have this policy in place, while 31% stated they have not yet considered it. Only 9% have considered it but decided against it. Those who don’t have a BYOD policy may be missing out on a way to capitalize on the cost savings but also on the growing trend of conducting work activities on mobile devices, as our survey found that smartphones, regardless of whether provided by the employer or the employee, are used for work over 58% of the time.
Since BYOD policies typically require the employee to pay for most of the hardware and service costs, companies can benefit buy saving quite a bit of money. And, employees benefit by using the mobile device they like best and, for some, not having to carry 2 mobile phones around with them.
On the other hand, BYOD policies could bring about additional IT support that is needed to manage various mobile operating systems and to ensure security. Businesses also lose control over the devices and how they’re used.
MO: Will the results of the survey influence any future developments within your midmarket business strategy or initiatives?
Joe: We’ve already been anticipating the growth of mobile device usage as an extension of the office, and our survey only confirmed this. We’ve been making a concerted effort to integrate processes with all Sage accounting and ERP solutions by building a vehicle to put data into the cloud and sync to mobile devices and back office ERP systems. So, if a sales person is with a customer, they can easily show their products on the tablet, know the current inventory, retrieve unique pricing and even obtain instant approval from a manager to discount a product or service. The customer can then either pay with their credit card, or the salesperson can hit a button and send the invoice immediately to customer. This is all done in real time.
MO: What advice would you give a company who is on the fence about embracing mobile technology within the workplace?
Joe: I would recommend business leaders to think about what their business needs and goals are and how mobile technology can possibly help achieve those goals. After that, they should consider pros and cons as far as potential costs, IT support, etc. Think about the roles of each of your employees.
Mobile tools are driving better customer service as it allows the users to process orders, or answer customer questions at the point of sale instead of having to call or go back to the office. Take mobile salespeople, for example. They need as much data as possible to close a sale. They need to be able to access their catalog of items, create sales quotes, and even compare their sales number against their team’s performance and goals. With mobile business applications, they can do this anywhere; they’re no longer tethered to the office.
Mobile devices can also help cash flow (many Sage solutions also include the ability to take payment or process electronic invoices). This not only reduces the time it takes to deliver your invoice, but it also gives your customers a choice on how to make their payment—which can include electronic payments—thus reducing cycle times on getting paid.
MO: Based on the survey results, how do you anticipate consumer habits will evolve over the next 5 years and how is Sage positioned to meet the constantly changing needs of their customers?
Joe: With the availability of faster cellular and WiFi speeds, mobile technology certainly isn’t slowing down. Consumers will be expanding their use of mobile technology, getting more creative to meet their needs at home and at work. Businesses will look to keep up with how mobile technology is positively impacting the consumer world and bring that into the workplace.
At Sage, we see the adoption of mobile not only significant but also accelerating. We actively meet with our customers to identify how we can build better solutions to help them capitalize on these new capabilities. We understand why each of our customers is unique. We provide them with the products and services that suit their needs, are a pleasure to use, and are secure and efficient. We are trusted to take care of the basics, keeping everything simple, supporting them and solving their issues through real people. From the intuitive design of our software to the expertise of our people, we focus on giving our customers the freedom, confidence and control they need to achieve their business ambitions.
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