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A Mobility Plan for Midmarket Success

29 Jan 2016 by Sally Clasen

Remember the “old” days when only the CEO and a handful of senior staffers were issued a company-owned mobile phone or laptop? It was a management perk that existed with little oversight, but it was considered a successful integrated technology plan to conduct business.

It’s a new digital world and nearly everyone employed today uses a smartphone, laptop, tablet or some other mobile device, even smartwatches, to do work. The trend is influenced by the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) and Bring-Your-Own-Application (BYOA) culture in which workers use their personal devices rather than company owned ones to get the job done.

Your business is ringing.

Midmarket businesses, in particular, have embraced the mobile approach. Nearly half (43%) of midmarket business owners use a smartphone as the primary device to run their operations, according to survey results published in Intuit’s e-book, “The Appification of Small Business: Why the Small Business Market is the Next Big Thing for Developers.”

For good reason: Mobile technology enables basic functions like collaboration among co-workers who aren’t in same physical space and the use of productivity tools including texts, email, calendars and contacts to interact. It also provides robust opportunities to engage with colleagues and customers in real time via Web-conferencing and video chat across geographically dispersed locations.

Perhaps one of the more compelling advantages of BYOD is it allows midmarket businesses to save money while reaping the benefits of having employees use their own devices.

Build a mobile infrastructure.

The norm of mobility in the labor force, however, creates unique and companywide implications for those whose employee aren’t bound to an office cube with a desktop computer. It also presents challenges for IT professionals who need to corral a device-centric landscape and, at the same time, create strategies that result in a seamless mobile experience.

That sentiment was echoed in Gartner’s “Predicts 2016: Mobile and Wireless” report released on October 13, 2015, which states:  “As mobility moves into its maturity phase, its impact becomes less self-contained under the banner of mobility, and instead spreads across the computing infrastructure. Security, manageability and productivity are the key themes, where both IT leader excellence and vendor differentiation can be obtained.”

Secure the device-users.

To avoid the common pitfalls inherent in a digital workforce, midmarket businesses need to develop a mobile management plan that successfully connects the operational dots for business success.

For starters, when you have a staff using diverse personal devices and sharing proprietary and sensitive company information across multiple platforms, it creates a perfect cyberstorm for security breaches. Yet, more than half of midmarket businesses don't have an appropriate breach response plan currently in place, according to a 2015 survey conducted by Software Advice.

To avoid the risk of compromising data and virtual oversharing, it’s wise to require mobile users to password protect their devices, encrypt their data and install security apps to prevent criminals from stealing company information while the device is engaged on public networks.

Get on the same tech page.

Another way to streamline the actions of device users who check in from multiple operating systems is to implement mobile content tools that provide a single dashboard to monitor and manage all-employee mobile OS use.

The same dashboard should make it easy to enforce policies and procedures regarding mobile activity, and automatically distribute firmware and app upgrades to both company-issued and BYOD phones, which is an effective way to control renegade digital activity, too.

Speaking of, it’s imperative that midmarket businesses craft a mobile policy agreement that details the organization’s procedures for all digital interaction while on company time. This should include how to report lost or stolen equipment; what devices, brands and models, and uses and software are permitted; and penalties for violating mobile policies outlined in the guidelines.

Get to a productive place in the cloud.

The freedom of mobility and the ease at which employees and customers can collaborate and share information is what makes digital commerce so appealing. Thirty-seven percent of U.S. midmarket businesses are adapted to the cloud, and anticipated 78% will be fully cloud operational by 2020, according to Intuit. 

Most midmarket businesses can’t afford full-fledged mobile management solutions, yet cloud computing has leveled the mobile playing field for them to easily manage backups, filesharing and literally take the show on the road.

While operating in the cloud doesn’t remove all security risks, it’s a viable and affordable alternative that adds an extra layer of data protection, which ultimately improves productivity.

Like businesses, cloud services come in many shapes and sizes. Public clouds such as Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps for Work or Dropbox, are popular but midmarket businesses need to evaluate their needs and decide whether a public cloud, a private network or a hybrid environment that uses a mix of on-premises, private cloud and third-party, public cloud services with orchestration between the two platforms is the best fit.

Mobile technology clearly has transformed the way midmarket businesses do work, giving device users the ability to have instant access to all settings, data and applications on the go. For that reason, CIOs and IT decision-makers must view mobility as a big-picture strategy, rather than an exercise in device deployment, and adopt mobile solutions that reduce security risks and enhance productivity in a seamless manner.

Download Gartner’s “Predicts 2016: Mobile and Wireless” report to find out how to use mobility to both test the feasibility and comprehensiveness of your customer’s IT strategy, as well as help them limit interruptions and distractions.