Intangible, human aspects big winner in mobile businesses

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Businesses expect intangible aspects - such as human resources - to improve most as a result of deploying mobile & wireless technologies, new research by Griffith University business school has revealed.

Businesses expect intangible aspects -- such as human resources -- to improve most as a result of deploying mobile and wireless technologies, new research by Griffith University business school has revealed.

The findings were made in the initial phase of world-first research aimed at learning how to measure the impact of mobile & wireless on business.

The research, sponsored by the Queensland Government and Intel, is part of studies towards a business doctorate by Griffith University student Duncan Unwin.

"When we started this, we had all the cost-saving models -- you'll save office space, cabling costs and so on -- but when we went out and interviewed the CFOs, what they were saying was that what was really important was the intangible resources," Unwin said.

Intangible resources included, for example, anything that might affect the culture of the organisation or the integration of knowledge into the company as opposed to concrete, tangible aspects such as buildings and cables, Unwin said.

Mobile and wireless technologies were expected to improve staff communications, thus helping staff work more efficiently and productively.

Mobile and wireless had the greatest impact on such things as the processes that individual members used to work together as a team, Unwin said.

"So I think that's a very interesting finding. It's really about the people aspects and that mobile and wireless are ways to reconfigure resources much more dynamically," he said.

The phase one findings would be fed into the next phases of his team's work towards an appropriate change management methodology for businesses adopting mobile & wireless both here and overseas, Unwin said.

The business school research team initially chose four organisations representing 'early-adopter' sectors for mobile & wireless -- corporate, government, institutional and SMB- for interpretive market research based on in-depth interviews, he said.

"We mapped how [resources] drive the performance of your firm and assets. To what extent mobile and wireless technology influences the performance of these individual resources. We also looked at organisational culture ... what are the drivers for change and what inhibits change," Unwin said. "Mobile and wireless is going to be very important."

Dr Louis Sanzogni, researcher at Griffith University business school and Unwin's supervisor, said phase one had shown that people consistently picked the intangible factors as most significant and ignored the tangibles.

"And that came out very early in this research," Sanzogni said.

Leighton Phillips, solution marketing development manager for South-East Asia at Intel, said the chipmaker had invested about US$50,000 in the first phase of the Griffith research and was keen to invest in phases two and three.

"It's not a direct benefit [for Intel] in terms of sales importance, but we recognise there are gaps in the market in which someone needs to invest," he said.

Phase two was expected to begin in August and phase three -- if phase two went well -- early in 2005. Further funding was expected from the Queensland government but could not yet be announced, Phillips said.

Intel saw the emerging mobile and wireless technologies as a crucial step in achieving its vision of all computing devices communicating anywhere at any time, he said.

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