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Preventing mobile madness – How to manage the connected age

(Image credit: Image Credit: Bruce Mars / Pexels)

Mobile devices have firmly established themselves across all industries. Now that the shock of the new has passed, the next step is to effectively managw them. This will be a challenge, as the number of smartphone users worldwide is currently estimated at 3.2 billion, according to a survey from Newzoo, and is predicted to rise to just below four billion by the time we reach 2021. With the same survey citing a potential 1.28 billion tablet users by 2021, and the Internet of Things (IoT) also booming, evidently mobile devices are a hallmark of our new digital age.

A 2018 survey by Oxford Economics showed that 80 per cent of senior IT and business leaders believe that their employees can’t do their jobs effectively without a smartphone. Nearly as many respondents also reported that mobile devices are crucial to business workflows. With such importance, the type of mobile device – specifically the vendor – matters.

Smartphone savvy

iPhone and Android users, for instance, are different. Each has an intuitive knowledge of, attachment to, and expectations for their device’s interface and capabilities, which drive efficiency and engagement. This carries over from personal to work life. In the 2019 Insight Intelligent Technology Index seven in ten IT decision-makers believe it is “very or extremely important” for corporate IT to resemble consumer experiences. In pursuing this, organisations have turned to a hybrid approach for mobile devices; amalgamating strategies for employer-issued tools and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) plans. This model is beneficial due to its flexibility and its ability to increase employee satisfaction. However, it can also be very difficult to manage.

One such issue is ensuring security across a mix of devices. A study by Enterprise Mobility Exchange and NetMotion Software revealed that 49 per cent of IT leaders could not give a specific figure of mobile security incidents that took place in the previous year. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg – concerns around access control, performance and liability are all on organisations’ minds. So what does an effective mobile strategy look like?

Mobile desktop

Every company now needs to view their workforce through a mobile-first prism. A report by The Economist Intelligence Unit expands on mobiles impact on employees. It found that, compared to  workers who say their employer’s use of technology is “inadequate”, those who consider their employer a “pioneer” in mobile adoption and support have significantly higher levels of productivity (16 per cent), creativity (18 per cent), satisfaction (23 per cent) and loyalty (21 per cent). It means that IT and business leaders are embracing a mobile-first mentality as they encourage agility and productivity across the board. However, organisations need to do this whilst using infrastructure that’s secure, manageable and cost-effective.

This may seem exceptionally difficult, but it has major benefits. Coupling a mobile-first strategy with modern innovations, such as zero-touch enrolment, allowing for bulk deployment of devices, can actually help businesses increase productivity and lower costs due to faster, seamless deployments. This leads to a myriad of other benefits, such as improving security due to greater consistency across all endpoints; improved access and controls for end-users; and lower expenses thanks to more strategic management of mobile endpoints and services.

The work/life merger

As technology, the workplace and consumer habits continue to come together, the tools and processes used to manage different devices are slowly merging as well. This leads to a place where the combination of endpoint devices and services will enable a greater user experience. However, as IT continues to mix, IT staff face a plethora of new issues.

It is a minefield trying to make sure the management platform chosen is able to adequately monitor identity and access controls while being faced with the overarching question of whether to adopt a new business model to keep up with technology. In reality, finding the proper means of deploying, securing and managing an increasingly diverse device landscape can be overwhelming for the majority of IT teams. According to a recent Samsung and Oxford Economics study, two-thirds of enterprises have opted to outsource some or all of the day-to-day deployment and management of devices in order to stay on top of the complexities of mobile device management.

Keep it simple

In order for companies to deploy correctly, they need to be astute in how they assess and implement a strategy. Engaging with the task is the first step, essentially assessing the environment and mapping all new tools and processes. Then companies need to go out and procure the correct products for their needs. After this step comes deployment, and the adoption of modern mobile infrastructure, leaving the company with its best foot forward when it comes to the technology they employ. This way, no matter how many mobiles the company has, they won’t get lost.

James Longworth, Workplace Technology Consultant, Insight UK