When the C-Suite started using their personal smartphones and tablets in the workplace they could never have predicted how far or quickly the devices would spread through the enterprise. As smart mobile devices became a natural part of people’s lives users started bringing them into the office, accessing personal applications on business devices and sharing business information outside of the protected IT environment. Companies can look at the evolution of mobility in the workplace in two ways; a threat to be minimised or an opportunity to be managed in a strategic way.
And while mobile technology brings the promise of improved workforce productivity and potential cost savings, to the CIO mobility comes with risk. Technology keeps advancing, as do the operating systems and applications that come with it. People’s expectations of how, where and what they can work on keep changing. Consumer trends such as smartphones, tablets and now wearable devices keep creeping in to the workplace. This creates greater need to establish a bring your own everything (BYOx) culture. And all the while C-Suite awareness of and demand for greater security measures to protect corporate data against vicious malware attacks, cyber-threats and potential vulnerabilities keeps growing.
Managing the inevitable
Organisations that choose to see enterprise mobility as an opportunity are realising that listening to employees and establishing a device management policy that gives them the freedom and flexibility they want can bring business benefits. A company culture that allows employees to use social media and other personal applications during work time, while providing access to work drives, folders and files outside of the office, can actually make people more productive, happier and loyal. 83 per cent of workers reported higher productivity levels when working from home as a result of flexible working and bring your own everything (BYOx) policies1.
The businesses that have seen the biggest benefits from mobile technology have chosen to seize the opportunity rather than be paralysed with fear over the risk. But they have not been naïve about the role that people play in making – and breaking – enterprise mobility.
Enabling mobility – mitigating risk
Managing mobility is as much about managing people and what they do as it is about technology. 51 per cent of 21-32 year old employees would contravene company policies restricting use of own device, cloud storage and wearable technologies for work2, while 62 per cent of smartphone users do not password protect their phone3. These are the sorts of simple but preventable human errors that create potential security risks for the enterprise.
To mitigate these risks you need to create a good infrastructure and have policies that are suited to your specific needs. Policies need to take into account all the different devices and cloud-based services or online contact points that your people might ‘bring’ to work. They need to be communicated and understood as well as followed, and most importantly they need to be living and breathing because technologies will constantly evolve and change. People might only just be getting their heads around wearable devices today, but tomorrow they could be a fast way for shop floor staff to check stock levels or for service technicians to access repair history data while out on a job. You need to observe the behaviours of your employees, keep up to date with the devices and services that they are using and refresh your policies as necessary.
Creating and implementing the correct policies is not just a job for an IT department or IT professionals either. It should be an enterprise-wide effort that extends from the C-level down to each individual with a smartphone in their hand. Everyone has to understand what can and cannot be done, and be trusted to follow the rules.
Managing enterprise mobility
Enterprise mobility can bring productivity, efficiency, innovation and transformation, but it needs to be managed. That starts with understanding what people want and need, assessing the benefits and risks these can create for the business, and staying in control of the way people use their devices.
Most importantly it means approaching enterprise mobility as an opportunity rather than a risk. Security does not need to be seen as just another cost centre, but a way of instilling confidence in people to focus on doing their jobs, while creating an infrastructure that delivers business benefits.
Technology will keep evolving, business challenges will keep emerging and people will keep using their ingenuity to solve those challenges with the technologies best suited to the job. That is why people – and the policies and security measures needed to educate, empower and protect against their errors – should sit at the heart of every enterprise mobility solution.