For years, IoT and mobility have been improving business and industry operations by automating tasks, making remote work safer and ensuring devices can be managed remotely. As the Covid-19 pandemic hit, this technology became a lifeline to industries such as retail, healthcare, transportation and logistics (T&L), and field services, helping to maintain social distancing, keeping people safe and, at the same time, improving their operations.
Responding to rapidly changing industry demands
The pace of change is continuing to accelerate. In retail, innovative mobile technology no longer just improves in-store experiences by ensuring they are fast, convenient and secure. Now, as we move to a post pandemic way of shopping, technology such as digital signage and kiosks, IoT-enabled stores and mobile point of sale (mPOS) systems are improving consumer safety by reducing high touch instances in store.
The T&L industry has also relied heavily on IoT and mobility to meet the unparalleled demand created by the pandemic. The continued rise of e-commerce has aggravated the cost and inefficiencies of the last-mile problem – with customers expecting fast and often free delivery regardless of location. Adopting an efficient mobile-first strategy, combined with an IoT management platform, has provided organizations with visibility into critical aspects of their supply chain and the ability to leverage real-time decision-making to keep goods moving during a crisis.
For the remote healthcare industry – which is already anticipating greater technology implications from the eventual 5G rollout – virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets are being used for everything from remote consultations with specialists to prescribing and guiding patients through therapeutic exercises and treatments for chronic conditions.
Meanwhile, field services organizations have become increasingly reliant on mobile technology, like smartphones, tablets and wearable devices to ensure operational efficiency and productivity, while keeping workers safe. Field workers operate in all types of conditions, including resolving issues during initial point-of-contact and adapting to unexpected disruptions, so deploying integrated mobile and IoT technology provides employees with the tools and information they need to carry out business-critical operations efficiently and independently. At no time has this been more important than while social distancing measures have been in force.
Preventing vulnerabilities through properly managed devices
However, with Covid-19 sparking a level of technological change often only seen during and after wartime, there is a risk that many of these devices have not been implemented properly and are not being managed correctly. Industries that have responded quickly and have adopted short-term solutions to social distancing measures, need to consider a fully integrated mobile-first strategy to ensure their business is cybersecure.
The rapid scaling of technology as a direct result of the pandemic could have detrimental consequences for organizations if they fail to implement these devices properly. Businesses may not have considered a fully integrated suite of business mobility solutions to keep workers operating safely and to manage all their mobile devices and IoT endpoints. To help ensure your IoT rollout is managed effectively, here are five key considerations.
Lost or stolen devices are expensive. Not just because of their replacement cost, but also the associated downtime and recovery time. Because of their scale and remoteness, unsecured IoT endpoints are also an attractive target for cybercriminals. Mobile malware can open backdoors into your network, root/jailbreak your devices, or hold your data and infrastructure for ransom. Whether it is intentional or accidental, data loss can be damaging to a company's brand and its balance sheet. It is important to be able to lockdown mobile devices, apps and content to prevent unauthorized access to company systems and data, while maintaining regulatory compliance such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Payment Card Industry (PCI).
It’s important that all mobile and IoT devices, operating systems (OS) and usages such as: Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Corporately Owned, Business Only (COBO) and Corporately Owned, Personally Enabled (COPE) are integrated into a common enterprise IT infrastructure. By effectively managing and gaining visibility into the diverse and numerous IoT-enabled devices throughout their operations, organizations can gain a holistic view of their entire IoT device estate, while reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) of those devices.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to a mobility management solution. Every industry and every organization will have different business-critical mobility requirements. It is important that your mobility management systems help to transform your outdated processes, manage the full lifecycle of your mobile and IoT devices, diagnose and troubleshoot device issues in real-time and resolve problems in minutes.
Now more than ever, it is important to get new devices up and running as quickly as possible. But it’s not only devices to consider, new apps and updates also need to be deployed to multiple, sometimes thousands of devices at the same time, and in some instances in challenging environments, to ensure you are acting within the compliance regulations of your industry. It is vital that your organization has a way to securely manage any device or endpoint with any form factor and any operating system throughout their entire lifecycle; from deployment to retirement.
5. Tracking of Assets
As your workers move, your mobile devices move. Visibility across the business is key so that everyone knows where assets are and what they are doing. By making sure that all devices can be monitored and remotely disabled if required, it will ensure you can improve your operations and services.
Location services also mean all field workers are accounted for and that any safety risks at particular locations can be communicated and monitored. GPS tracking can guide workers in the field on the best route to take when travelling and warn them about any traffic issues, and also allow the organization to monitor if one of their workers are involved in a traffic incident.
By ensuring all devices are correctly integrated, managed and secured via one platform, organizations can reap the full benefits that IoT can bring, from enabling mass social distancing, to building a brighter, more technology-focused future, as well as helping to reduce the impact of the coronavirus. With the right foundations, deploying and managing devices can be quick and easy, but done in isolation it can expose organizations to significant risks. For those that do not have an effective mobility management solution in place, now is the time to act.
Stefan Spendrup, VP of Sales, Northern and Western Europe, SOTI