Most organizations already realize the benefits of using smartphones as part of a mobile workforce strategy.
They can provide multiple ways of communicating with remote workers, including both voice and data connectivity; can easily accommodate most personal and corporate email systems; allow access to server-based resources for document retrieval and sharing; and can be a vital link for communications with customers and clients.
Smartphones are also compatible with most office applications, including the standard Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint; and with cloud-based solutions, can be used to access applications, data and even print anywhere there is a wireless signal.
What most companies don’t realize — especially small businesses — is that smartphones can be a liability if you do not take the time to plan for and manage their use or establish clear cut operational protocols and restrictions for users. These small systems are every bit as capable as larger desktop computers, but a whole lot more vulnerable since they are portable and more prone to human foibles and deliberate misuse than a desktop or notebook system that can be carefully tucked away under lock and key.
Some steps to take before deploying smartphones in your organization:
1. Talk to your remote workers and ask them about their applications and communications needs. Find out which applications they primarily use and then investigate mobile applications that are compatible with your existing back-end applications.
2. Match form to function in selecting smartphones. Choose a device that is compatible with industry standards, is in sync with your applications needs, and provides flexible and manageable security.
3. Don’t try to do everything yourself, especially if you are a small business with limited IT resources. Work with third-party integrators who know how well you mind your business and who know the ‘pain points’ of your day-to-day business activities. Find a solution provider who knows your industry inside and out, and has a client track record to prove it.
4. Develop a strong policy management structure before your switch on that first smartphone. This includes user guidelines, security safeguards, maintenance and upgrade policies, and what to do when a device gets lost. Make sure every user is aware of these policies and agrees to comply. It is also a good idea to have your remote workers agree to a workable set of best practices that cover both business and personal use of a mobile device.
5. Start your mobile effort with a controlled and manageable pilot project that includes a cross-section of executives and user types, and is confined to a single department or to one or two applications. Identify and involve ‘mobile champions’, who can mentor other people in the company. A good pilot project will root out any problems between users and devices, and pinpoint minor roadblocks before they become bigger problems.
For more on smartphone mobile management, go to the Smartphones in the Enterprise Special Report located on our SearchEnterpriseDesktop sister site.
Also, check out Brighthand’s reviews of some of the top business-class smartphones, produced by our expert editors and review staff:
- BlackBerry Style 9670
- Samsung Epic 4G
- Motorola Droid Pro
- BlackBerry Bold 9650
- HTC EVO 4G
- Motorola Droid X
- HTC Touch Pro2
- HTC Droid Incredible
- Motorola Droid
- Apple iPhone 4
- BlackBerry Storm2