If you have any doubt about just how dramatically today’s workforce is changing, think about this: just two years from now, one-third of the world’s workforce will be mobile. That’s nearly 1.2 billion people working outside of the office by 2013 – whether it be from their homes, cafés, hotels, customer sites, or conference rooms.

Let me be blunt about it: Enterprises that don’t adequately serve their mobile workers will be at a major disadvantage. To remain competitive in the new business landscape, technology leaders need to find a way to keep these workers as productive as if they were sitting in the cube next to them. Workers need to access information, work on documents, and collaborate with colleagues just as easily from their smart phone, PDA, or laptop as from their desktop computer. Anything less means lost productivity and ultimately lost revenue for the company.  

A key advantage of the Microsoft productivity platform is that it adapts to changing work styles and organizational models, making it a great choice for an increasingly mobile workforce. With Microsoft Office 365, employees can work anywhere with the most productive, familiar experience across the PC, phone, and browser. With Windows Azure, IT can develop innovative cloud-based services for their mobile workers that extend the organization’s productivity even further. Moreover, employees working in the cloud can connect seamlessly with workers using Microsoft Office 2010 and other productivity applications on premises.

As enterprises strive to improve the productivity of their mobile populations, it’s critical that they do so without compromising security and infrastructure reliability. They need to manage the identities of workers logging into to the system from a wide variety of devices. And they need to keep the infrastructure up and running in an increasingly complex environment.

The Microsoft productivity platform provides solutions to these challenges as well. The platform simplifies management by integrating all workers into a single, unified system.  Back-end processes like security and identity management extend from the core enterprise platform to the mobile workforce without requiring an entirely new infrastructure.

In the coming years, enterprises will gear up their support for mobile workers. According to a study by Juniper Research, the number of enterprise workers using mobile cloud-based applications will rise to more than 130 million by 2014.

Already, some of the innovations are truly ground-breaking. Take Xerox, for example. An industry leader in managed print services, Xerox saw the difficulty employees had printing documents on the go. Mobile workers had to wait until they returned to their laptop or desktop computer to print, route documents to a colleague’s computer for printing, or simply go without printing. Xerox addressed this need by developing a cloud-based service on the Windows Azure platform that lets workers route documents from their mobile devices to the nearest available public printer.  

The service, called Xerox Cloud Print, solves one of the fundamental challenges of mobile computing. It’s the kind of innovation that brings energy and excitement to the evolving business landscape. To learn more, please check out the case study at: http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/Case_Study_Detail.aspx?CaseStudyID=4000008986.

How important are mobile workers to your organization? And what are you doing to improve their productivity? Please share your thoughts and ideas with us.