Mobiles are central to our professional lives, but keeping staff happy, secure and productive can be a challenge for even the largest IT department.
Mobile phones connect our work and our private lives, making them tricky devices to manage at the best of times for employers.
How many security controls can I install on a device carrying someone’s most personal data? How can I prevent inappropriate use during work without restricting the user when they pop out for lunch? How do I ensure my employees feel empowered to adopt new productivity apps, without introducing shadow IT?
These questions only become trickier to answer when IT departments find themselves overwhelmed by day-to-day tasks and the complexity of managing a variety of devices, operating systems and applications.
For enterprises, managed mobility services are increasingly offering a cost-saving opportunity to centralise and simplify the core management of mobile fleets, giving the IT department more time to empower employees to work productively, securely and happily.
Creating a millennial-friendly mobile workplace
By now, you’ve probably heard from sources like Deloitte that millennials will comprise 75% of the global workforce by 2025 – and that they have great expectations when it comes to the tools they use, given they’ve grown up with technology at their fingertips.
This can be something of a double-edged sword: your millennial staff are the most likely to be primary drivers of mobile productivity within the organisation, but if your set-up is too restrictive, they’ll be the first ones to go off-script, with all the security risks that entails.
“The workplace is changing and as employees want more from their employer, businesses need to attract the best talent and empower them with the best tools to act in the moment,” says Shane Proctor, Head of Managed Services, Tech Sales at Telstra.
“Millennials will be responsible for driving digital disruption, because they've lived it, and they've grown up in it. The lifecycle of tools will decrease, as they keep switching to the latest and greatest experience.”
The hidden costs of BYOD
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has been the default mobile policy for Australian workplaces – it’s convenient for staff to carry only one device, while employers benefit from offloading costs to their employees.
This does, however, create an expectation of personal privacy and reduced security controls which has a knock-on effect for productivity. In fact, some businesses are having to lock their employees out of productivity tools, reducing their efficiency.
“You’re seeing some people become inefficient and ineffective just because they're bringing their own device into the office environment. So, we're actually seeing some significant organisations, large multinationals, changing their policy to bring them back into a more corporately-owned, corporately-funded structure,” says Eric Baart, Workforce Mobility
Services Principal, at Telstra.
Understanding your business with data
As our mobile fleets continue to expand in complexity, with more operating systems, apps and devices than ever before, a good understanding of what how your staff are engaging with your business becomes invaluable.
“I believe the future of our managed services is about the data we can provide back to customers about their fleets, which enables them to make better business decisions,” says Baart.
Data can be used to make informed investments in new applications, or block unreasonable usage during work hours, such as gambling or streaming movies.
In cases where users are browsing on a corporately-supplied device, it can also be helpful to keep track of their bandwidth usage, notifying or even cutting users off when they’re consuming more than their fair share. This bandwidth control can be a lifesaver for businesses with employees who regularly take devices overseas.
In addition to managing users, this data also provides the foundation for investments, such as tracking how much employees are engaging with different productivity apps and cutting out the ones they’re just not finding useful.
“As an end-to-end mobile managed service provider we are in a prime position to help organisations further their business with the data generated by the managed fleet,” says Baart.
“Not only does this help us internally monitor, optimise around customers’ SLAs, and proactively mitigate any large trends or contact spikes. It also gives us a natural opportunity to provide security remediation and statistics for the customer to maintain governance.”
In addition to standard mobile management, this data also drives the design iteration of custom business applications by providing insight of how applications are performing and being interacted with.
“This is vital data, catching bugs as they arise and indicating which components are worth reinvesting in to improve the overall customer experience,” says Baart.
Simplifying device management
For many organisations, managing even a simple, one-platform mobile fleet is an expensive proposition – requiring significant time and expertise to keep up with the demands of security patching alone.
“Everyone wants to embrace the digital revolution: businesses and staff alike,” says Baart. “We often see that on the mobile front, IT staff are too busy with maintenance to analyse their company usage and turn mobility into a competitive advantage."
He mentions one large retail customer which required two full time staff to secure and manage their MDM platform. One year, more than 90% of these employees’ time was occupied by the need to administer more than 850 security patches.
For businesses like these, it makes sense to outsource this function to organisations with the expertise to deal with these problems at scale, Shane Proctor says.
“If you look at the particular journey of digital transformation that Telstra's on at the moment and what works for us serves as the guiding light for our managed service solutions for our customers,” says Procter. “This makes Telstra an ideal partner to support your own mobility transformation.”
Staying secure on the road
There was a time when organisations could afford to neglect the security of their mobile fleet – criminals were focused on other platforms with more users, seeking more important data to exploit.
However, this is no longer the case. Our phones have access to all the same business data as our computers, making it no surprise that the Telstra Security Report found mobile malware had grown by 300% over the last three years.
“When you are provided a work laptop, you expect to have access to only certain content and security software installed,” says Baart.
“That just doesn’t happen for a lot of devices in the mobile sphere at the moment.”
Baart says organisations are often unaware of the scale of the threat, contributing to the slow proliferation of good security practices.
“Recently, we rolled out mobile security services to a large government agency across their fleet of 5000 services. In next to no time, we’d recorded 18,000 suspicious events, 2,500 of which were high risk and 4,000 dangerous enough that we automatically blocked them,” says Baart.
“The scale of the mobile security challenge is shocking, and the amount of work and expertise required to protect these devices is one of the main drivers behind enterprises seeking assistance managing their devices.”