How to Create a Mobility Policy and Gain Back Control
By Bzur Haun
More companies than ever are deploying smartphones and tablets to reap the benefits of increased productivity, efficiency, and collaboration, but doing so is much more complicated than simply equipping end users with devices and expecting it to all fall into place. Enterprise mobility requires a managed approach that includes a detailed mobile strategy that outlines usage mandates and works to help the company control wireless spend.
According to a recent report from ABI Research
, more companies will recognize the need for corporate mobile policies and begin investing more in tools to enforce them during the coming year. The research firm predicts that the market for mobile management policy solutions will reach $1.6 billion by 2016.
Currently, the market for such solutions stands at just $350 million, according to ABI Research. Not surprising is the fact that greater investment in such solutions will be driven by the skyrocketing demand for smartphones and tablets and the expanding usage of such devices in businesses of all shapes and sizes. Worldwide data traffic, ABI Research has revealed, will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 50% moving forward meaning "trillions of dollars in data revenues are at stake.”
When drafting a mobile policy, companies must ensure that they cover all the bases to make a mobile platform as profitable as possible, while also addressing employee safety and corporate liability. Weaving mobility into the enterprise carries plenty of risk, but with deliberation, planning, and the development of policies for mobile deployments, businesses can gain all the fruits of mobility while minimizing the unintended side effects.
Some of these side effects could include a disruption in business processes, high costs, lack of business agility, and legal liability for employee behavior. Any non-compliance within these crucial areas can negatively impact productivity, service levels, and the bottom line. Paramount to any successful mobile enterprise deployment is a core management policy that deals with devices, service plans, usage, and cost controls, regardless of device type, carrier, or employee.
Top five tips to consider when creating and implementing your corporate mobility policy
Start simple: Start with one policy across the enterprise to develop a common denominator and then move it across the use cases based on specific employee roles, including amount of international travel and/or the department in which they work.
Cover all areas of your mobility program: Make sure that your policy addresses everything from the device itself to the plans and features associated with the device to the usage of the device. Many companies are often consider policies to control security on a device, but it’s just as important to consider your user behavior with that device.
Suggested policies every business should consider include:
- Zero tolerance for texting and e-mailing while driving
- Hands-free only, particularly in states like California, where it’s the law
- No phones with cameras for employees entering into government installations
- Defining personal versus business use expectations for both voice and data/Web sites
- No downloads of games, ringtones, etc. (non-business related items)
- Use of Wi-Fi versus 4G to control data roaming costs
- Employee notification prior to extended or international travel
- Limitations on mobile device upgrades or replacements
- Clear definitions of who is responsible for the replacement of a lost or stolen device
Be clear about repercussions for non-compliance with policies: Set parameters and define outcomes. It’s important that consequences for policy non-compliance are defined as explicitly as possible, to avoid confusion. For example, if an employee does not follow security protocols as defined by your IT department or excessively uses mobile services or unnecessary apps, be clear about what the result will be. Also consider having a training session for your employees to discuss the policy and go beyond just delivering a document to sign.
Once you create it, don't forget it: Most organizations stop at the creating and delivering stage, but it’s important to go further. You need to consistently remind your employees of the policy and keep it up to date. Without the visibility to understand when behavior is out of policy—or the tools to take corrective action either with your end users or carriers when there is an incident—policy is just a sheet of paper. Performance against expectations should also be communicated to end users on a regular basis as visibility creates accountability, and awareness drives behavior.
Policy is the foundation of any successful and cost-efficient wireless program. Companies with defined mobility policies have higher returns on their mobility investments in terms of workforce flexibility, employee responsiveness to customer needs, as well as revenues and profitability that can be attributed to their mobility investments. Clearly documenting ground rules, expectations, and repercussions for out-of-policy behavior will ensure that end users are aware of what is considered acceptable usage of a corporate device.