Choosing a mobile device to rollout to employees can be difficult. With all of the features, functions and designs of mobile devices it can become a minefield when it comes to securing data and controlling the hardware so that it benefits the user as well as the business.
Timing is everything. Whilst the number of operating systems and devices has never been greater, the ability to secure data across the majority of operating systems at a parity level is now better than ever.
Mobile Device Management (MDM), which supports on-premise and in the cloud options can now offer parity controls across many major operating systems in the important areas of email delivery, hardware/application control and data security. This allows businesses greater scope when looking to outfit users with a whole new range of mobile devices. Businesses can now focus on finding the individual the right device for their abilities and their role, offering a choice of operating system, design and function.
If a business has the right MDM solution, then rather than simply selecting one operating system or one device, an open approach can be taken. Users will be more comfortable with a handset that they have chosen than a device that has been chosen for them.
So with this in mind, what steps can organisations take to ensure they make the right decision?
Poll the users
When embarking on the decision-making process of choosing a device for a business, it's important to find out what frustrations there are surrounding the mobile device currently being used and ask whether the preferred choice of new device will deliver where the current range does not.
Once the chosen operating system (OS) meets acceptance levels in data security, device control and application control, it's a good idea to collate a selection of handset models that can be presented to a representative sample of users in small groups. Get users to handle the devices, discuss the merits of each and then allow them to choose the model which suits their needs.
Users with their own personal devices may want to choose something other than the same model that they have purchased, therefore, presenting a variety of devices will let them choose a business device with other features, such as different brands and physical designs or within the OS choice, for example. By choosing the right handset employees won't feel the need to use personal devices to access corporate data.
There is a lot of buzz surrounding Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), but it's not necessarily suitable for all businesses. It's important to ensure users are engaged with the devices they will be using throughout their working day. The approach taken when choosing a device can be greatly improved if users are involved in a Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) process.
This CYOD approach is a much more gentle approach than FYOD (Force Your Own Device) or DYOD (Dictate Your Own Device) and users engaged in this process are more likely to take care of the devices chosen and use them to the fullest extent.
Phone Phablet or Tablet?
The black rectangular design has dominated over the past few years with little variation, but now options in screen size are one of the biggest factors to be considered when it comes to choosing a device. Users are now recognising what the 5 to 6 inch screens have the potential to offer and they also recognise that a larger device body can pack a bigger battery, often leading to double the battery capacity of smaller models.
A question which regularly presents itself is; will the tablet replace the laptop? Many operating systems of Android/ iOS have gone some way towards providing a laptop replacement but there are often challenges or limitations in finding a tablet that truly replaces all that a laptop (with a full desktop OS) can do.
The new influx of Windows OS based tablets in sizes from 7 to 12 inches from operators such as Microsoft, Nokia, Dell and Samsung offer a real desktop experience, combined with the portability of a tablet and are an interesting option to review when upgrading tablets/hybrids.
Mobile Data Optimisation (MDO) is a relatively new concept, allowing granular control of mobile data costs with the aim of helping businesses avoid excess charges when roaming. It also means device use and user productivity will be more focused towards the business use that were intended in the purchase of the handset or tablet. As a companion to MDM, MDO will allow you policy control over which apps and which websites and services the users can access.
Having the power to choose your own device certainly presents great potential for any business. The right device, coupled with the right MDM solution can lead to greater and more productive use in the workforce. Whatever mobile device strategy a business decides to move forward with, an MDM solution will help secure, monitor and manage mobile devices, making it easier to implement policies and security measures to prevent data loss or security breaches.
Contributed by David Brady, senior technical consultant at Intercity Telecom