Having a mobile strategy is no longer a nice-to-have; driven by employee demand, it’s essential.
Users want to be able to take their work with them, whether that’s from home, to a client or supplier meeting, or on an off-site project . Enabling employees to work anywhere, anytime is now critical, both from a productivity and satisfaction point of view.
So, how do you capatalise on this shift toward mobile computing. Here are 5 key considerations every organisation needs to work through in implementing a mobile strategy:
What is the goal behind the mobility strategy? Identify information and mobilise.
Is it just to get email onto the smart phones, or would management like to take it further, to use mobility to enhance productivity or reduce desks in the office? Determining what is best to mobilise is easier if you can identify information that has the following characteristics:
• Information that is time-sensitive. Time-sensitive information is information that is needed within hours or minutes by your staff or customers to conduct business or execute jobs.
• The information is needed or captured by staff who in the field or often traveling. For these people, mobile devices improve efficiency of work.
• Information that is timing-dependent. Timing-dependent differs from time-sensitive in that it may be old but is needed at a specific place and time.
Ask yourself, who needs access to the information in the field or on the road? What information do they rely on?
How are you going to deliver the mobility solution to the business? Build or buy?
Have you consulted with your IT department and technology partners to understand the technical challenges of the mobile strategy you’re aiming for? To build or buy is a top line decision with an IT systems and mobile computing is no different. Your choice may be easier or more difficult because of concerns about compatibility with various systems. You may choose to buy mobile software or to build.
If you are buying mobile software, for planning purposes you need to be aware of the expenses usually involved in buying software such as licensing, maintenance or upgrades, support, training and customisation.
When building mobile software or apps you need to have a clear set of objectives so that costs do not spiral out of control. Consider things such as design and build, deployment, maintenance, upgrade and support. Do you have the expertise in-house or do you need to speak to your IT provider about custom build mobile apps?
Mobile devices, especially those running business applications, pose new security challenges. How is data on the device secured? What if the device is lost or stolen?
To secure applications, you need to address the following:
• Secure Authentication – An application username and password are a good start, but requiring email confirmation of account settings and a policy that calls for regular password changes is recommended. Other options include device specific authentication and LDAP (lightweight directory access protocol) resources like active directory.
• Data Encryption – Consider encrypting your locally stored data especially if the data is sensitive.
• Device Wiping – Mobile devices are at a much greater risk of loss or theft, leaving your corporate data in the hands of an unknown user. To reduce risk of security breaches in such cases, implement a data wiping function or speak to your IT provider with who have a Mobile Device Management with remote wiping capability. Data can be remotely wiped by sending a command to the device or the wiping process can be triggered by a user event such as a login attempt to a canceled account.
Does your IT team or IT provider have the skills to deliver a Mobility solution?
There’s a lot of technical work that goes in under the hood to make a mobility strategy work. Make sure that your business has a firm understanding of the technical requirements.
Be aware that you’ll need to educate users on mobility to ensure security and productivity is maintained. Mobility solutions create a fundamental shift in the way work is done within an organisation, and while it brings great benefits, it also requires a change management programme to be completely successful.
Mobile devices like smartphones and tablet PCs have changed the face of business permanently. The speed, portability and access to information that smart phones and tablet computers offer has become a compelling reason to adopt these devices as part of an overall IT strategy. Companies that embrace a well-devised mobile strategy now will position themselves to take advantage of this new and exciting technology.
Stephen Sims is Brennan IT’s General Manager – Sales and Marketing.