Friday, 3 October 2008

SmartPhone's and your business

One common dilemma businesses face that have not developed and implemented a mobile strategy, is the covert usage of Smartphone devices within their businesses.

Initially staff have these sexy devices because they look good, but after a while most of their owners will start to ask their business if they can be used to pick up email whilst there are out of the office and synchronise to their desktop PC etc.

If staff are asking for smartphones is a good sign - it shows they are keen to increase their efficiency. Smartphone’s are a great productivity tool – just as long as you have control over them.

I have documented below a simple approach to the problem.

Select a companywide device and usage policy
So before you give the green light, best you work out your longer-term mobile strategy. Otherwise, you’re likely to get covert deployment - Before you know it, they’re all at it and you’ve lost control. In fact, most of the handsets already used by staff are email enabled in some form – but not necessarily the right form.

You must therefore take control by establishing a policy whereby all handsets are approved and managed by your IT department. Having a smartphone strategy from the outset will save you a lot of hassle downstream. You’ll also be creating your first stepping stone on the road to enterprise mobility.

First, you must decide on a common mobile platform. Your employees may well be pushing for Blackberry technology, Windows Mobile or event the IPhone, all are good and will enable your staff to get much more than just mobile email and calendars. Using Smartphone’s, your employees will be able to send and receive emails, view and edit calendars and contacts, , browse the Internet, view maps, use GPS technology, and run industry-specific applications. having a range of devices with different operating systems is the wrong approach, thry the various devices avaialble and pick the one that best fits your business.

Smartphone’s will also help increase productivity by speeding decision-making. Indeed research suggests that mobile email makes a huge difference to anyone who receives more than 50 emails a day and spends more than 20% of their time out of the office and will certainly ensure your employees stay in touch with colleagues, customers and vital information away from the office.

One thing you must not overlook when implementing your mobility strategy is security. Each year, around 12,000 mobile phones are found in the back of taxis in London alone, which means you should ensure all data is secure and controlled in the event of a lost or stolen device.

A good way of doing this is to deploy a third party device management and security package. This lets you manage your Mobile devices in much the same way as you manage desktops, laptops, and servers – allowing you to enforce group policy settings, distribute software updates, and wipe data from mobile devices if they get lost or stolen.

Long-term benefits
Enterprise mobility has already made a huge difference to many organisations who have deployed it. The important thing is to plan your long-term mobility strategy, not just your immediate requirement for email and calendars. Think about how else it can help your business in terms of customer relationship management, sales and marketing, service, and trouble-shooting.

Enterprise mobility starts by taking the processes that go on within the four walls of your organisation and mobilising them. In your case this will be email, calendars and contacts, Organisations like mine can then help you develop your strategy further by mobilising other functions within your business - such as CRM, ERP, accounting and so forth. At the end of the day, there’s very little that can’t be mobilised.

Lastly, don’t simply view this as a stop-gap to satisfy those employees who are asking for smartphones. Think of it as the opportunity to make a positive impact on your business in the longer term. If you’re not planning for enterprise mobility, rest assured your competitors are.

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