Smartphones and tablets have changed the way we operate, the way we work and the way we communicate, both in the work environment and in our everyday lives.
The strategies towards new technological applications that providers and hardware companies are enforcing as well as the bohemian bourgeois lifestyle that the Western World is adopting (see Steve Jobs and Elon Musk) leads to deep penetration of the market and adoption of mobile devices from consumers.
This change in behavior alters the ways that information is transmitted, stored and managed. So much so that companies are forced to develop a corporate policy towards the use of Mobiles and tablets in the workplace.
The guidelines below are the basic lines of policy formation in which any corporation should address this issue.
- A Plan: Change is upon us – we need to embrace our changing environment and plan ahead to how we can adopt corporate technological tools and procedure to maximise on and create new opportunities through this changing phase. In this instance, a flexible and adaptable plan is absolutely paramount before the implementation of any such process or system.
- A Platform Choice – In the current market there is an overwhelming choice of different devices with different operating systems and different capabilities (see Apple OS, Google Android, Microsoft Mobile Windows, Blackberry, etc). Each operating system is suited to different uses and to the different attitudes of user, so it is only natural that employees make their personal choice of the device and platform they wish to use. Adapting a cross-platform policy for any data or applications you are going to introduce within the working environment means that your employees will be able to work more efficiently and effectively with an operating system that suits them personally. However; in order to implement this change, employers must first make sure that devices are compatible with the systems they use as a business.
- A Secure System – If your business deals with sensitive data then you simply must be aware of the risks that come with online devices. Security is a top concern when dealing with many devices and operating systems. Each one of them or each combination has its own security problems and threats. Adopt data security policies, use data encryption, install backup systems, use user authentication and match devices to individuals. Make your employees part of the solution and train them in order to understand the risk and the threats associated with sensitive data.
- An Opportunity – People, processes and deliverables: these points represent an opportunity. Businesses must identify the opportunities with which they are presented regarding mobile devices. How can mobility positively help the communication between team members of your company? How can this new technology empower the creation of virtual teams and monitoring of production and projects?; Can your business processes positively change by adopting mobility?; Can you save time and improve coordination?; What about your deliverables – How can mobility help you track production and quality as well as get live feedback from your stakeholders, your employees, your suppliers and your customers. There are legitimate opportunities in technology that will present you with solutions to these problems.
- A Simplified Strategy – Ask your employees how the adaptation of mobile devices can be simplified and help them in their everyday work and communication. Actively involve them in order to reduce the resistance to change and avoid adding initial complexity to their working environment. Facilitate different technologies and remember that not everyone is a “techie” Help them keep up with the technology that you are adopting, train them properly, give them the time to swallow changes and provide them with the means to update their devices and applications regularly and when applicable.
- A Mobile Device Management System. What to choose? – There are many options when it comes to Mobile Device Management systems; Choose your supplier and your provider very carefully. There are no magic solutions here. If you have identified the need to implement a mobile device management system but you are not proficient with the technology and the different solutions outsource this task to a specialist consultant or hire accordingly. Keep in mind that solutions that worked for others businesses will not necessarily to work for you. I would argue that the biggest gamble in adopting software like this is not the platform you choose, but the way in which you position it with your employees to ensure uptake. Choose an open source flexible solution that can manage cross platform application regardless of the devices used by your people and of their physical location.
Culture, ethics and perceptions are changing faster than we can adapt. I remember meeting the CEO of a listed company in London, over a casual coffee after a simple phone call both wearing jeans and t-shirts. Ten years ago you would need to pass through 3 secretaries and arrange a meeting 3 months in advance to see such an individual at his gentlemen’s only club wearing your Savile Row suit.
The same principal of cultural change applies to mobile device management. In an era of constant technological evolution, it’s simply Do Adapt or Die.