Although mobile devices can be purchased as office equipment without reference to IT departments, and little consideration to their ongoing use and appropriate tariffs, the fact that many are now smartphones, PDAs or dongles to connect tablets, notebooks or laptops, introduces a wide range of IT issues around control, management and security. In combination with the requirements for managing connectivity, these issues place an increasing burden on already stretched IT departments.
- Mobile devices are much more than just phones and the diversity of users has significantly increased The benefits gained from mobile productivity and responsiveness risk being undermined by the costs of managing and supporting greater numbers of users, making ever more use of more sophisticated mobile devices and services. Many handsets are now portable computers, but with users with all sorts of roles, fewer are going to be tech savvy, and will be more likely to need more support, and extra controls on the way devices are used may need to be put in place.
- Most mobile deployments have been ad hoc rather than strategically planned The ease and relatively low upfront costs have made mobile deployments seem simple, but the transition from simple phone to smart IT communications device and explosive growth in use means that organisations need to set down mobile priorities, plans and policies - in short, have a strategy.
- The right policies can bring mobile use under control, but they need to be enforced Policies help bring order and consistency to the burgeoning numbers of mobile users across an organisation, and help those tasked with mobile management keep control of assets and budgets, but only if the policies are properly managed.
- Mobile assets are hard to manage and encompass more than just hardware Some businesses struggle to effectively manage relatively fixed technology assets, such as desktop computers, but mobile devices introduce much more complexity, some of which requires specialist understanding. As well as the handsets themselves, there are contracts with often complex tariff options and soft mobile assets such as applications and data either on or accessed by the devices while mobile. These bring new and fast changing demands on the asset management processes.
- Internal resources are tight and should be used where most effective for the business It is not just about having time and money, even though these are in increasingly short supply, but also having the right combination of skill sets and sufficient knowledge. Many of the skills required are specialised, and providing suitably trained in-house resources is costly, especially when people can better be deployed adding value and directly supporting the business elsewhere.
- Companies have seen the mobile resource management opportunity, but not all have the right attributes While many of the aspects of managing mobile resources relate to best practices for managing business processes in general, there are a number of areas, such as billing, device and network identification and control, which require more detailed telecoms knowledge. This may be present in more specialised companies with the right background and close relationships with providers, but should also be something a carrier could offer, providing they can pull together the services required into a compelling package.
The operational processes that closely involve overseeing mobile device use - asset management, mobile policy, contracts, security and connection issues - should be viewed as network services rather than in-house IT functions. With the requirement for specialist skills to accomplish many of these tasks, incremental outsourcing of them to a carrier makes a great deal of sense. Those considering this move need to check that their carrier has the capability to deliver these as managed services, and can scale the number of devices down as well as up to reflect moves, adds and changes in the workforce.
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