Stupid Mistakes and Smart Devices

Expert advice to avoid the pitfalls of mobile management

June 18, 2012

By William Hardie, Executive Head of Vox Telecom’s Enterprise Mobility Division

Modern offices have been inundated with an array of smart devices such as phones and tablets. As these devices are often used for work purposes without corporate consent, they can easily turn into a security hazard, which is why companies are attempting to crack down on their employees’ mobile activity. William Hardie, Executive Head of Vox Telecom’s Enterprise Mobility Division, shares his views on the biggest mistakes companies make when attempting to manage mobility.

#1 Banning mobile devices altogether

Attempting to prevent your employees from bringing smartphones or tablets to work is not only counterproductive, but frankly, impossible. Organisations need to change their corporate culture to match the mobile zeitgeist of the world around them, not the other way around. Younger employees, in particular, feel so connected to their devices that they see them as being practically an extension of themselves. Imposing a ban on personal devices will not only alienate the staff, but allow competitors that do utilise mobile technology to gain an edge by offering customers access to sales and support staff using the channel.

#2 Applying PC solutions to mobile technology

Forget everything you know about PCs. PCs are accessible 24 hours a day. PCs are manageable, password-protected and wholly under the control of the in-house IT team. Traditional software management suites cannot be applied to mobile devices that are carted around daily and easily misplaced or stolen. A robust, multi-OS, holistic mobile device management platform has to be applied to govern the system successfully.

#3 Introducing BYOD initiatives without securing the devices first

Although a BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) policy can be extremely beneficial, mobile data security and seamless integration into the corporate needs to be the first step in launching an initiative. We’re seeing global leaders like MobileIron enter the market and seamlessly remove the security and integration headaches, whilst also allowing for the development and deployment of mobile applications that can be used across all operating systems. This not only streamlines operations, but can lead to new sources of revenue or customer service channels for the organisation.

#4 Attempting to do it yourself

Although one would assume that an in-house IT department would be more than qualified to handle a mobile device management strategy, this is rarely the case. Mobile devices operate across a variety of platforms, including IOS, android, Blackberry BES/BIS or Windows mobile. This adds too great a degree of complexity to the workload of often under-resourced and under-qualified IT departments to handle. Companies should consider adopting a tried and tested globally accepted solution or technology, at least as a starting point. Leading research houses, such as Gartner, are becoming independent trusted authorities around tracking trends and providing thought leadership in respect of what solution to opt for.

#5 Ignoring the problem

When market research firm Columinate surveyed South African smartphone users, they found that more than a third of respondents are using their smartphones every waking hour of the day – whether at home, on the go or at work. The reality is that close to 8 million South Africans are bringing smart devices to the office and probably using them for work purposes. If such a device is not secured, it could be disastrous. Mobile data security is a pre-requisite to business continuity. One has to create a trusted device and user in order to protect company data.

#6 Partnering with the wrong MDM solution provider

There are a number of entities that claim to offer superior MDM solutions, but few that live up to their promise. It is best to follow Gartner’s MDM Magic Quadrant Report, which segments MDM suppliers against defined industry criteria that are deemed critical considerations for managing mobile devices.

Smart devices can prove to be powerful sales and organisational tools, but attempting to take control over mobility on your own is futile. Companies should use the technology and skills at their disposal to tame the mobility beast before attempting to introduce any BYOD initiatives.