Is mobile changing the workforce?

By Patrick Saundry on

Almost everyone has encountered the vast differences that mobile technology has made to our lives and the workforce. Whilst we may reminisce for a time that communication was more face-to-face than glued to a screen, there is no doubting the ways in which mobile technology has transformed so many aspects of our lives for the better, especially in achieving business outcomes.

Digital transformation is the result of IT innovation that is both aligned with and driven by a well-planned business strategy with the goal of transforming how organisations work.

Mobile devices are changing the ways in which businesses interact with their customers and employees.

Mobility is at the heart of digital transformation

Today, mobility has allowed businesses to create remote working environments by design, allowing employees to work off-site, from their own home office, or elsewhere. At the same time, customers don’t need to enter an office or store to sign papers to make a purchase. An employee can take a mobile device to the customer’s home at a time of convenience.

To a great extent, mobile technology has further created a global village where the possibilities of doing business with, or working for, companies in all parts of the country and world are possible.

Shifting strategy focus

At this point, as the change is occurring, it’s important that organisations take a proactive, rather than a reactive approach, to the changes happening as mobile technology becomes increasingly important in the world in which we live and do business. Organisations will face a number of key challenges including a complex technology landscape with a wide and disparate range of vendors with different approaches to mobility in the market.

Digital transformation requires that organisations rethink their mobility initiatives and focus on a strategic, business-driven approach with a strong focus on the end-user experience.

Changing the way we connect

Smartphones and mobile devices are changing the ways in which organisations interact with their customers, employees and business partners.

SAP’s 451 Research project shows that users are increasingly engaging with companies on their mobile devices; in the four years prior to the Research, mobile has become the preferred channel for customer service, while traditional channels for customer service such as home telephone and even email have plummeted.

BYOD - Bring Your Own Devices

Mobility offers massive potential for disruption in the business landscape, but it is important that businesses take a pro-active approach. SAP’s research, however, shows that mobility initiatives in most organisations largely reflect a reactive approach to the growing number of employees using their personal devices in the workplace.

This approach typically encompasses practices such as permissive bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies that are largely user-driven and can in fact have some dangerous consequences to the business.

There is no denying that the workforce is increasingly mobile. Mobile technology provides us with the perfect solutions we require to communicate with and do business with people across the world. Employees bring their own mobile devices to work, and businesses have chosen to embrace this trend, rather than ignore or reject it.

Problems of BYOD

However, it does bring up potential problems that need to be addressed before any real harm is done.

SAP’s most recent ITDM and employee surveys show that 53% of businesses allow BYOD (Bring your Own Device) usage – and half of those businesses actually even provide support for employees’ devices.

The number of workers that have access to mobile devices is growing, but this does not automatically translate into increased mobility in the substantive sense of the way people are getting work done (unless the employee is working remotely, or has to travel to meetings). 451 Research’s ITDM and employee surveys show that other than email and messaging, few workers regularly use enterprise mobile applications to get their work done.

Manage data privacy

However, more so than concerns over productivity, businesses need to regulate a separation between work and play to protect critical professional data.

Secure container policies are one possibility. This describes an application that provides an authenticated, encrypted area of a mobile device that can be used to insulate sensitive corporate information from the personal side.

It is very important to isolate your critical information from all other applications on the employee’s device, such as facebook, Instagram and so forth, because it will prevent malware, intruders, system resources or other applications from trying to interact with it.

A secure container allows IT to isolate applications, disable certain functions of apps within the container and wipe information within the container without affecting user data, as well as remotely wiping devices in case of loss or theft.

Mobile guidelines in the workplace

Businesses should also set guidelines around personal mobile devices and data in order to mitigate risk factors.

A mobile device policy is a written document that outlines the organisation’s strategy for allowing tablet PCs and smartphones to connect to the corporate network. A mobile device policy covers important information like which staff members can receive or bring a company mobile device, whether they utilise their own for work purposes, what constitutes acceptable use, user responsibilities, and penalties for non-compliance to the policy.

Another important scenario to consider is loss or theft of mobile devices that contain corporate data. This requires an evaluation of the data and identifying potential loss scenarios to reduce risk. If the user leaves his device unlocked in a public location, what can be done about the data stored on his device? Password and encryption solutions are best utilised in case of loss or theft.

An additional unexpected risk to the organisation comes in the form of unlicensed and unmanaged applications. Unbeknown to the company, the user of a corporate mobile device may have unlicensed applications stored on the device, or they may not be updating applications regularly as required. This is when hackers take advantage of any vulnerabilities to gain access to corporate data. Without visibility, the company has no way of knowing whether applications on staff devices are being updated or not.

Mobile technology has certainly brought many advantages to our business and personal lives, as long as risks are continuously accounted for, and employees operate responsibly.

About the Author:


Patrick Saundry

Patrick Saundry, the Head of SMB at Oxygen, a DXC Technology Company, partners with SMEs to determine their business objectives, and then designing and implementing the solution to deliver those outcomes over short and long term horizons.

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