Emerging Tech Drives SMB Home-to-Office Telecommuting Activities

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Special Report sponsored by Sony

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By all indications, small-to-medium size businesses are on the move, in more ways than one.

The number of small-to-medium business (SMB) mobile workers worldwide, many of whom telecommute,  is increasing at a 6.3% compound annual growth rate and is expected to hit 298m by 2016, according to a report released by Techaisle, a market research and analysis organization that tracks SMB IT activities and channels.  Nearly 150m of these people will be telecommuting and more than 120m will regularly travel on business.  Roughly 30m of these SMB mobile workers are based in North America, while almost half come from the Asia Pacific Region (excluding Japan), notes Techaisle in its SMB Mobile Worker Forecast report.

Emerging tech areas like consumerization (BYOD) and cloud computing will increasingly dominate the IT decisions of SMBs as companies look to become more globally competitive, more productive and keep a tight rein on traditional IT costs.  SMB cloud spending is expected to increase by about 22% this year, noted Techaisle in an earlier report, with a good chunk of that going toward cloud-based productivity suites like Microsoft’s Office 365.  Virtualization and managed services will also play a key role in this SMB IT shift to keep pace with an expected 200m cloud workers by 2016, adds the research group.

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Like larger companies, SMBs adopt cloud-based services and applications to save money and give staff a competitive edge.  In fact, reasons for adoption closely match the firms with dedicated IT support, according to the results of a survey conducted and released earlier this year by TechTarget (the parent company of TechnologyGuide).  In the survey, which involved more than 1500 IT executives, nearly 72% cited cost savings and 35% noted improvements in productivity as motivators in jumping to the cloud.

While cloud-based applications and services may make it easier to work remotely or from home, not all companies are convinced spending too much time away from the office is a viable option.

Earlier this year, Internet services and portal company Yahoo!, Inc. barred its workers from telecommuting, or working from home in an effort to increase productivity and ‘improve morale’, according to reports citing an internal memo from newly-appointed CEO Marissa Mayer.  Weeks later, electronics retailer Best Buy scrapped its work from home initiative, while in December Bank of America scaled back its flexible work program in an effort to have workers clock more time at work and in the office.

From a technology standpoint, there are also serious concerns surrounding any type of mobile activities, including security, data privacy (especially in healthcare applications), transaction security, device theft and service and support.

Still, as balancing work and lifestyle demands become more of an issue, working remotely and from home is becoming a more accepted practice, especially with small- to mid-size businesses.   A recent poll of 1,000 U.S. workers conducted by ORC International revealed  that 65% believed telecommuting is more productive than spending all of your time in an office.  In addition, 43% of those polled believed that telecommuters have a better work-life balance.

In this Special Report series, TechnologyGuide explores the technology options and hurdles of telecommuting as workers make use of new and emerging tools to eliminate traditional office walls and geographic barriers.  We’ll also look at technologies that make the transition from home to office less disruptive, discuss new tools and techniques, and provide tips on making the most of remote and mobile activities.

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Next in the Mobility in Motion Series:

Consumer devices meet business tools.  As at-home technology increases in sophistication, bridging the gap between toys and mobility tools becomes a cost-effective and reliable alternative for SMBs on the move.

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