More people will access the Internet with mobile phones than PCs this year, notes research firm Gartner. The implications for your business are huge. The devices offer many upsides, including the ability to check and respond to email from wherever you happen to be.
But there are downsides, too. With such open access to sensitive business information, an employee can use a mobile device to take anything he or she wants. It can also serve as a distraction — some employees would rather play “Words with Friends” during work hours.
Before you decide to ban personal devices from your work place altogether, here are some mobile trends your business should be aware of, as well as policies to consider for your company.
How businesses can take advantage of mobile phone technology
It’s crucial for business owners to examine how mobile use fits in with their business plans. Employees may often need to access social media networks to help promote the business and respond to customer comments and posts, which makes mobile devices for your business a necessity. Social media can also be quite effective for the business’ own internal communications. The recruiting company Hyphen found through their extensive research on the use of internal social networks, that social media aids internal communications and organizational development. Many companies that have only used social media to communicate externally have been missing out on this great opportunity.
Online streaming sites such Netflix and Hulu have revolutionized how people get content on mobile devices, and while you may not think of using these in a place of business, consider the benefits. Companies such as www.GetDirectTV.org provide the opportunity to conveniently access all types of content, including documentaries, that can be helpful to a wide variety of professionals. You’ll find documentaries on how to get creative marketing juices flowing from some of the most influential advertising execs, ideas that were sparked by revolutionary inventors and futurists, important insight for Internet marketers, and so much more.
With numerous legitimate reasons to use mobile phones to improve business communications, it is essential for businesses to establish best practices when it comes to using them at the office or for business outside of regular hours. What should smart businesses know about their employees bringing personal phones to work, or using them for business dealings?
A 2013 Acronis study found nearly 60 percent of companies do not have a formal bring your own device (BYOD) policy, which leaves them open to security risks.
Small companies who have fewer than 10 employees, may not think a BYOD policy is necessary, but there are a number of legitimate reasons for implementing one. Most employees who use mobile devices for work sync company data to their devices. Anyone who has a contact management system will probably bring their contacts and calendar to their devices, so they can obtain the information offline. There is reason to be concerned about that company data floating around with the employee, especially when that employee is no longer with the company.
Here are some steps for writing and implementing BYOD policy:
- Review current security policies for web applications, such as CRM, email, portals, remote access, VPN, etc., as many of them will apply to mobile devices.
- Determine which devices your business is willing to support, as not all will meet security requirements.
- Set clear expectations.
- Write policies that are clear and concise for all employees.
- A PIN, or personal identification number, should be mandatory.
- Enforce encryption of data at rest in case a PIN should be cracked.
- Determine which apps will be off-limits.
- Provide training to employees to make sure they understand the policy and how to correctly use their mobile phone’s applications.
- Look for apps that include auditability, reporting, and centralized management, as many current apps will not meet this requirement.
- Consider mobile device management software that offers secure client applications; such as email and web browsers, over-the-air device application distribution, configuration, monitoring, and remote wipe capability.
When formulating the BYOD policy, it’s also important to consider including a course of action when an employee resigns or is terminated. This should also include what to do if a device is lost, stolen, or misplaced.
Of course, some data will always walk away with the employee, including email addresses of business contacts, as well as knowledge of the organization’s key business practices and initiatives. Clearly, the most important thing is to devise a policy that will address all of these issues before they arise. If you’re one of the approximately 60 percent of businesses who haven’t done so, it’s probably time to get started.
What suggestions do you have for managing business mobile data? Do you think employees should be able to use personal devices for work? Share your thoughts in the comments.