How you can maintain control in a mobile-first world
Businesses will have to get used to the concept mobile-first. In a changing IT environment, the likes of smartphones and tablets should no longer be seen as nice-to-have extras that may offer a productivity boost and greater flexibility. Rather, they are now increasingly viewed as essential parts of any business.
Nearly half the global workforce will be mobile-enabled by 2023, and with new innovations such as 5G, Wi-Fi 6 and the Internet of Things all offering better wireless connectivity and more powerful mobile applications, businesses need the right solutions to control and manage this new environment.
But with more people using work mobile devices, and employee and business-owned devices needing to co-exist in constantly-changing environments, it can be easy to lose control of these assets, which could leave businesses paying more than they need and harm productivity.
Meeting the challenges of tomorrow's workplaces
All businesses will be affected by this. Indeed, as workforces become younger and more technically-savvy, employees will demand the ability to work in a more flexible way, and employers will be expected to accommodate this.
This means being provided with the latest and most effective technology to complete their work. Old, outdated or slow legacy equipment simply won't cut it. This means firms need a clear plan for how they go about repairing and replacing ageing devices, and be able to offer users the support they need to work when and how they choose.
An era of sprawling networks
Network sprawl is one of the biggest changes facing IT departments today. As businesses grow and add resources on an ad-hoc basis as they scale up, it can be easy to lose control and visibility into every aspect of an organisation.
Shadow IT, for example, is a major issue for firms. If your employees are using devices without your knowledge, this is a major security issue, as you won't have control of what activities are taking place, or have an accurate picture of exactly where the perimeter of your network is.
Therefore, you need to take steps to regain visibility, and this needs both the right technological tools and an effective set of policies to enforce how they are used.
Managing a more fragmented mobile environment
For most firms, much of this sprawl will manifest itself in the form of a highly fragmented mobile environment. Smartphones, tablets, labellers and scanners are just some of the equipment firms will have to manage, and within these, there may be a wide variety of different hardware and software to deal with, each with its own requirements.
Therefore, you need full visibility into all of these tools from a centralised, easy-to-navigate dashboard. This should identify exactly what items you have, when they are due for an upgrade, and what steps need to be taken to regain control - for example, by gradually migrating away from older platforms.
Planning a long-term strategy
An effective mobile strategy needs to not only give visibility into today, but enable businesses to plan for tomorrow with confidence. This means having a clear plan for what devices will need replacing and when, as well as how to go about this.
For instance, businesses need to understand any potential security implications of new equipment and what steps will be needed to protect them. Organisations must determine how new additions will integrate with the rest of the network, and what extra training may be required to ensure workers are able to make the most of their new mobile technology.
The key questions you need to ask
To determine whether or not you're truly in control of your mobile estate, you'll need to understand exactly what your environment consists of, what devices you have, and what your strategy is.
Therefore, ask yourself these five key questions about your mobile plans:
- Do you know what your entire estate looks like?
- Do you know what devices you've bought/have been brought in by workers?
- Do you know where all these devices are?
- Do you know what you need to buy next?
- Do you know what to do if a device breaks?
If you're really in control, you should be able to answer all of them confidently. But if the answer to any of them if 'no', or 'I don't know', you need to be taking steps now to improve this.