Many companies still do not have a comprehensive mobile working strategy. To develop this, they have to start with their business targets.
They serve as personal entertainment systems on public transport, they turn pedestrians into zombies, and are just as much part of a table setting as knives and forks – smartphones have become an integral element of our everyday life, as have tablets and laptops. However, there is still often no professional solution that harnesses the opportunities they offer at the workplace. According to a survey by Cisco, almost half of all companies worldwide are driving forward mobility initiatives without having a company-wide mobile enterprise strategy in place.
The problem is that, without a strategy, their activities in this area are unlikely to bring the companies any further forward, as they are not focused on the business targets. Yet, mobile working has great potential for supporting the business strategy by increasing productivity, for example. If field employees need specific information while they are visiting a customer, they can access it straightaway and save having to send the information on later. The customer is happy to receive a quick answer. According to the Cisco survey, companies consider these two advantages of mobility – employee productivity and better customer service – to be the most important.
One consequence of mobility activities that are enacted without a strategy is the growth of silo solutions. These are difficult to manage and lead to various teams conducting similar development steps at the same time. This increases the total cost of mobility projects and reduces IT security.
Companies that are thinking about developing a mobility strategy must first ask themselves what their business targets are and which of these can best be supported using mobile processes and technologies. It is important to design the strategy in such a way that it can be sustained in the long term.
From plan to implementation
Once the mobility strategy has been decided it then has to be implemented company-wide in three areas:
Mobile access Which mobile network provider meets my needs best?
Mobile productivity Where can mobile end devices improve processes and how do these processes have to be adapted?
Enterprise mobility management How can I manage my mobile end devices, applications and services and also ensure the necessary IT security?
Mobility management plays a particularly important role in assuring smooth operations because only a professional solution can minimize risks such as cost explosions and security issues. A central management point for mobile devices is essential for this. This might use a Mobile Device Management (MDM) system for installing and configuring standard applications on smartphones etc. This is especially important for major international companies, because they have extremely diverse user requirements. While the use of private devices for business purposes (bring your own device – BYOD) may not be allowed in one national unit, for example, freelancers and business partners elsewhere need mobile access to the company network.
Cloud reduces investments
Before selecting a suitable MDM system, the IT department should consider whether it intends to invest in hardware and software and to operate the solution on its own. If not, it could be worthwhile using a cloud solution that provides a scalable MDM through a user interface. The provider then takes care of the technology.
Whatever solution is chosen, the Mobile Device Management system must support the following functions:
Over-the-Air (OTA) updates and remote maintenance
Real-time information about the settings of mobile devices and installed applications
Secure connection to the company network via Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Protection for secure PINs
Targeted deletion of company data while private data is retained
Protection from unpermitted syncing of a mobile device with a computer
Protection from unwanted data leaks, for example by monitoring data flows in the company network (Data Leak Protection)
Less is sometimes more
There is an extremely diverse market for mobile devices, for example smartphones, tablets, laptops and smart glasses. But which mobile devices should a company provide? Firstly, devices that all use the same operating system. This makes them easier to manage. Whether iOS, Android or Blackberry is used really depends on which of the mobile operating systems provides the applications required. Secondly, devices that fit the mobile scenarios. Field staff working with Excel sheets won’t get very far on a smartphone display. Fitters who need both hands free for working would be limited by tablets but would be able to receive text messages on smartwatches. Developing and implementing a mobility strategy therefore makes life simpler for the IT department. Not only because it is easier to ensure IT security and manage mobile devices. It also boosts employee productivity and customer satisfaction. The mobility strategy thus contributes directly to the company targets.
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