But the firm has largely supplanted that entire process — paper-binding and all — through the use of company-issued iPads, digital reports and mobile applications that executives can fire up before they even arrive at the office.
“We now have those reports automatically generated using MicroStrategy software ... and sent directly through iPads first thing Monday morning,” said Sanju Bansal, co-founder and chief operating officer. “So when we show up at noon for that meeting, we are all well-armed with that information.”
A growing number of businesses are developing a mobile-first mentality to capitalize on the popularity of tablets and smartphones among their workforce. In some instances, that means deploying apps or mobile-oriented software for away-from-the-desk use.
Sometimes those devices are doled out by the companies themselves. MicroStrategy, for example, has bought about 2,000 iPads for managers to take on business trips and representatives to tote during sales calls, among other uses.
But the trend is being driven in large part by the consumerization of technology — a movement in which employees bring their personal gizmos into the workplace and expect to integrate them into their daily routine.
“We are already in the midst of the mobile revolution,” said William Briggs, the deputy chief technology officer and director at Deloitte Consulting. “In 2012, researchers predict more mobile devices than human beings on the planet. And our expectations of enterprises — either as customers or employees — are increasingly being defined by our consumer lives.”
MicroStrategy now sells the software it used to build its internal apps to companies in industries as varied as retail, financial services and pharmaceuticals, said Hugh Owen, director of mobile marketing.
“The industries specifically that we see coming up a lot are industries that are predominantly good at and have a history of using data and deploying that data to the right people to help them make decisions,” he said.
But as organizations begin to shift their office procedures to mobile platforms, the transition can raise challenging questions for corporate IT departments.
The departments that once issued desktop computers to each employee, and perhaps a laptop if necessary, must now contend with a wider range of products and questions about how much control they can exert over devices they don’t actually buy.
Managing the security risk
The proliferation of mobile devices has introduced what-if scenarios that present new security risks for IT departments: What happens when an employee leaves his phone in a cab? Or unwittingly downloads an app saddled with malicious software?