How Can Your Mobile Device Project Be A Tech Success?

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

Have you got a mobile device project that is helping your organisation perform better? Peter Judge wants to hear about it

Mobile devices are a boon, but also a pain in the posterior for IT managers and CIOs.

They allow your staff to be far more productive, getting on with email and other tasks wherever they are, and responding more quickly to opportunities as they emerge.  But they also present management and security challenges which may be beyond anything you have experienced so far.

When we launched our Tech Success Awards, in partnership with Intellect, we knew in recognising innovation in IT projects in the UK, the mobile category would prove to be rather interesting – simply because it takes IT staff to the edge of their comfort zone, and sometimes well beyond it.

This came over very strongly in our recent poll of TechWeekEurope readers, in which almost half of you said that it is a “massive security risk” to allow end users to bring their own devices.

Failing to go mobile – the risks

And yet, if your organisation does not support mobile working it could be an even bigger risk, for at least two reasons. Firstly, you may be falling behind your rivals and failing to allow your staff to work as well and as hard as they want. You may even be losing staff who are frustrated at living in a desktop-centric world.

Secondly, you may be facing a security risk. Even if mobile devices are restricted in some way, users will find ways to get round security measures, and this may result in unsecured data sitting on devices, which are often left in the back of taxi cabs by careless employees.

The benefits

Against that, the benefits in staff productivity are obvious. But how do you start adapting to this? Business-focused devices such as the BlackBerry are old hat, and face a serious productivity issue, especially for users who are not familiar with them.

Most people have  iPhones and Androids for their personal use and would be far less productive on a different phone for work. For this reason – and for cost-savings – bring your own device (BYOD) schemes have been suggested.

But how do these BYOD projects work, and how can they be made secure and reliable, as well as having a cost-effective business model, which incorporates the end user’s mobile contract into company accounts in a realistic way?

We have heard of plenty of ideas. For instance, the Olympic organiser LOCOG allowed 14000 members of its staff to use their own devices if they wished, using third party management software to help control them. “London 2012 will be the first Games to be impacted by the consumerisation of technology, our team expects IT services that work around them,” said Gerry Pennell, CIO of LOCOG.

The IT managers featured in our IT Life section agree. “We’re seeing more students bringing mobile devices into the school and we’re looking to provide more content of our own for them to use,” said Matthew Martin of Business Education Limited. “I think this will be very much the norm by that time and I think there will be a lot more software that’s flexible.”

Over at Hello! magazine, using their own devices can really help journalists and other staff, but CIO Jose Mosquera has taken care to avoid pitfalls: “As we have tackled it, we are keeping an eye on the legalities, and we’ve tried to document all that and make it clear where the responsibilities lie. Insurance and upgrades are the responsibility of the user, and we provide a service – essentially email on your phone, with the corporate data sandboxed.”

There is a win-win situation on security. If you lose your phone, you can give the company permission to wipe it remotely, deleting the data and protecting your information as well as the company’s.

Can you do better?

Those are some basic thoughts about the use of mobile devices and the integration of them into the business. We are sure there are plenty more of you out there using mobile devices to encourage staff to work better and give your organisation an advantage.

If you have a good mobile device project (whether or not it involves the users’ own devices) get in touch. Entries to our  Tech Success awards should have been implemented in real life more recently than May 20011, in the UK. Other than that – surprise us!

UPDATE: We’ve made it easier to enter.  Fill in a form here!

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