Mobile devices have completely transformed the way Australians do business. Just a decade ago, employees needed to physically be in the office to do their jobs; or at least save their files in a USB drive to work remotely. Now, everyone has access to either a smartphone or some sort of mobile device that allows them to access corporate data and applications on the go. Unfortunately, there are some logistical challenges that come with this growing trend.
Mobile Device Management (MDM) explained
Mobile devices are not protected by corporate networks when they’re used outside the office, meaning business apps and data are potentially vulnerable to cyberattacks. They’re also easily lost or stolen, which can result in massive data leaks. The biggest problem, however, is that there’s no way to monitor what workers are doing and where they are; making it difficult to manage your business.
As such, a mobile device management (MDM) strategy is essential if you want to ensure safe and productive use of smartphones, tablets, and laptops for work. A mobile device management strategy is a set of policies that cover mobile device provisioning, software distribution, security management, and service maintenance.
To enforce these policies, ‘mobile device management software’ is installed on user devices. From there, you can establish policies from a central console, and then push them out to company-registered devices. What’s more, these apps allow you to monitor device usage and set access restrictions for each employee.
While all this sounds great, there’s actually a lot of nuance that goes into developing an mobile device management strategy. Depending on your requirements, you could implement a “bring your own device (BYOD)” policy; a corporate-owned device strategy, or a combination of both.
BYOD policies allow employees to use their preferred device for work. There are significant benefits to such policies. For starters, businesses can save money on hardware since most employees already have smartphones and laptops. And since employees use operating systems, apps, and device settings they’re already familiar with, they can quickly get the ball rolling without having to complete training programmes.
Developing a BYOD strategy:
Despite its benefits, concerns over privacy, compliance issues, and the difficulties of managing a fragmented array of devices and applications make supporting BYOD a challenge.
To implement it, you first need to clarify who is authorised to use personal devices. The best way to determine this is by evaluating each worker’s role and how often they’re outside the office. For example, consultants who regularly visit clients will likely benefit more from BYOD policies rather than front-desk staff who usually don’t need to take work home with them.
If they’re accessing sensitive files in unsecured networks; it could spell trouble for your business, so make sure they’re using virtual private networks (VPNs) to encrypt data. Controlling where and how your staff spend their time online is also important; since they can easily consume hours of unproductive time on social media websites or unknowingly click on dangerous sites that allow malware to leak into your systems. With an enterprise-class MDM platform, you can easily restrict access to websites, files, and apps for each device based on user roles, device type, network, and even time of day.
At the same time, you’ll want to have a detailed list of devices; their operating systems, hardware specifications, and patches; into your MDM platform. This will help you figure out which software and updates each device needs and is compatible with.
Once BYOD is ready to roll out, the next step is to train your staff. For every device an employee brings into the office, consider giving them a refresher course on what websites to avoid and how to identify common security threats like phishing scams.
Before the popularity of BYOD, “corporate-owned, business only (COBO)” strategies were the only way organisations empowered a mobile workforce. With COBO, users are issued a mobile device; usually from a limited selection of products; and restricted to using it purely for work purposes.
Managing a fleet of corporate-owned devices is much easier than BYOD since devices, operating systems, and security settings are pre-configured and administrators never have to worry about compatibility issues.
COBO is also perfect for organisations with strict data security and compliance requirements like healthcare and financial services. That’s because businesses have total control over what employees can access and can lock down the device as much as required. And if a device was is or stolen, managers can remotely wipe the data and simply issue users a new one.
Developing a COBO strategy:
Though not as much as BYOD, there are a few considerations when implementing a COBO strategy. For starters, you have to find a mobile provider that not only gives the best deals on hardware, but also offers the features your workers need on the field.
Similar to BYOD; access restrictions, encryption systems, and patch management solutions must be properly configured in your MDM software.
You must also assign a fixed number of employees in the COBO programme. After all, mobilising more workers through COBO would mean more devices, software licenses, and data plans need to be purchased. Keep in mind, some users will likely be unfamiliar with the corporate-issued device; so training sessions will need to be provided.
A “corporate-owned, personally enabled (COPE)” strategy; is perfectly suited for companies with strict security requirements but also care about user experience. In many ways, a COPE combines the level of control of COBO with the flexibility of BYOD.
Much like BYOD, employees get to use devices they’re comfortable working with, making them more efficient and productive. And since each device has been properly vetted by the business; compatibility and update issues are unlikely to occur.
Developing a COPE strategy:
Just like the previous two, you’ll have to identify who gets to be part of the COPE programme. Again, this will likely be a limited number of people since more mobile workers will mean increased costs. The costs can be expensive since you need to keep track of the lifecycle of each mobile device (approximately 3-5 years) and; purchase a new set once they’ve expired. One way around this is to limit users’ options to budget-friendly devices.
Security is also a big concern when employees use their device for personal activities. That’s why you need to conduct regular security training like you would in a BYOD programme. Also, don’t forget to set access restrictions and patch management schedules in your mobile device management software.
It’s clear that there’s no one-size-fits-all mobility plan. Many industries have different security and technology requirements, but with the right mobile device management software, you can establish BYOD, COBO, and COPE strategies with ease. So if you’re looking to empower a mobile workforce, connect with us today!