Technology and mobility in the workplace go hand in hand. Laptops allowed us to leave our desks and offices and gave us the freedom to travel anywhere in the world and still be able to access files stored locally on our machines. Cell phones, and currently smart phones, have extended that freedom even more, allowing us to set up virtual offices from just about anywhere. Cloud computing technologies potentially extend this mobility even further by providing access to critical files from just about anywhere on the planet – we’re not limited to just files on our computer or having to tunnel into the corporate network via VPN. Technology has untethered the world. And with it has introduced a number of challenges and opportunities.

To be sure, with greater mobility in the workforce comes a huge challenge for nonprofits to manage. Especially in terms of data and information flowing into and out of the organization on multiple devices that are constantly on the move. For many in IT (or those responsible for IT), this evolving mobile scenario is becoming a complete nightmare. But does it need to be? Is it better to enforce strict policies to ensure that only organization-approved equipment can access vital data? Is it smarter to restrict all mobile devices from accessing the company network? Should mobile access be restricted by department or title?

In reality, the answer isn’t so simple. In the last 20 years, since the evolution of mobile technologies (or technologies that enable mobility), the boundaries between formal work, leisure and family responsibilities and celebrations have blurred. In other words, mobile devices and mobile technologies are no longer just a part of the work life. These devices and technologies are ingrained into our everyday life and are part of our everyday culture.

To that end, nonprofits need to think simply beyond managing mobility as a technology, and think more about managing mobility from a broader perspective as part of the culture of the entire ecosystem (from employees to supporters).

Charities are at an inflection point. Call it the corner of mobility and culture. Mobility will change the very fabric of how employees interact with each other, partners, vendors and customers. Leave mobility unmanaged or try to manage this from a narrow focus such as IT or HR, and the likely result will be a frustrated workforce and will serve to reinforce generational divides among workers.

Bottom line: Mobility is simply not just about technology anymore. However, chances are high that IT will be responsible for any sort of mobile initiative within the organization. And to that end, IT will be responsible for any sort of information/data management as it relates to mobile devices and mobile computing. In our next post, we’ll talk about five tips to better handle data an information management in a mobile world.

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