Keeping Workers Productive and Data Secure

Enterprise Mobility

With increased access to mobile technology products, services, processing and applications, keeping all this information organized and secure has become a huge challenge for companies.

With the advent of mobile devices and applications that provide access for not only employees at the workplace, but consumers as well, the risk of sensitive corporate or financial data getting leaked to hackers has become a major security issue. To combat data breaches and security issues, many businesses are implementing enterprise mobility strategies.

Enterprise mobility is defined as a shift in work habits, employing the use of mobile devices and cloud services to perform business tasks. It also refers to the data loss prevention technologies that are available for IT departments to address the risks of data breaches. It is critical to have a strong acceptable use policy that stipulates the regulations and practices that employees must agree to in order to access a corporate network or the Internet from their mobile devices.

One of the most notable examples of an acceptable use policy is known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). BYOD refers to policies related to employees using their personal mobile devices and how those are used to access corporate networks. Having an effective BYOD strategy that addresses corporate data security, network bandwidth performance and employee adoption is challenging for many companies.

Many employees may not be receptive to the idea of their employer having access to personal devices, but IT must keep the security of corporate data in mind. Policies and tactics such as data wiping mobile applications when a device is stolen have become popular compromises for many companies.

An effective overall enterprise mobility management policy not only involves access to the networks, but the design and development of the application itself. IT departments must constantly address the challenge of balancing security and usability, and as part of the application development process, many IT departments consider factors such as encryption, the user experience and performance across a variety of devices.

In many industries, the days of employees tied down to a desk or standing in one location in a factory for over forty hours a week are quickly becoming obsolete thanks to the prevalence of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. As long as an employee has an internet connection and can communicate with co-workers and collaborators through their devices, many work operations can be performed from virtually anywhere. In this respect, many industries and sectors have benefited immensely from using enterprise mobility strategies in their businesses. For example, in the manufacturing industry, enterprise mobility enables employees on the shop floor to work faster and more efficiently, increasing the productivity of the plant. Customized mobile apps can be designed for employees to collaborate and share information on their mobile devices without leaving the shop floor to locate a desktop computer to look for information. Data can be captured and stored faster and users are provided with access to databases, allowing them to make quicker decisions in real-time.

Additionally, manufacturing sector mobile apps can also be used for inventory and facilities management. Apps can be developed to monitor the volume of parts, suppliers, warehouses and logistical services that must be synchronized throughout multiple locations. For facilities management needs, wall-mounted cameras can deliver live streaming video to smartphones to allow for constant monitoring; this can help to instantly identify security or maintenance issues. Having effective mobility apps in the manufacturing industry increases efficiency and productivity and helps manufacturing plants operate more efficiently, agilely and competitively.

In the healthcare industry, enterprise mobility applications are designed to provide essential information for patients, physicians and other workers in the sector; applications here must meet stringent compliance and regulatory policies that are unique to the industry. For example, in 2013, the US Department of Health and Human Services issued HIPAA rules that enhance patient privacy protections and access to health information.

Patient portals and electronic health records provide a wealth of information such as prescriptions, billing, doctor visits and the actual health data of patients. Many applications have been developed based on information from these portals and records, and healthcare IT departments have been adamant about ensuring this information is kept as secure as possible. Data breaches that would compromise this information must be eliminated lest the data fall into the hands of hackers or people who illegally fill prescriptions based on stolen information.

In the retail sector, employers and consumers have both reaped the benefits of enterprise mobility. Stores use the information that consumers download from mobile apps to make more informed business decisions on everything from store inventory to the coupons that customers receive in the mail or on mobile devices. Retailers can also use data such as product purchase history to predict the needs of customers and collaborate with partners and suppliers to respond to changes in buyer behavior.

In the stores, store associates and managers can use mobile apps to check inventory, look up prices, answer customer questions or even ring up sales right in the middle of the store rather than have the customers wait in long lines to make a purchase. Managers can use mobile apps to quickly address customer complaints and provide discounts and vouchers for future purchases – right on the spot. Customers can use mobile apps to stay informed about upcoming sales, promotions or special offers. They can also look up product information and reviews to help them make more informed purchasing decisions. Using mobile apps to enhance the shopping needs of customers and help associates provide quick real-time information can increase customer loyalty and keep a store competitive.

With all of the advancements companies have gleaned from mobile applications and devices, enterprise mobility is an ever-changing and complex field; and there are even more devices and concepts that will have a direct impact on enterprise mobility now and in the future. For the past few years, the concept of Internet of Things (IoT) has become a lot more prevalent.

IoT is defined as a network of unique objects (such as machines) that contain embedded technology which can communicate, sense or interact with internal or external networks. IoT enabled devices can be used to communicate between each device and create data that can be used in enterprise mobility apps to enhance productivity and efficiency.

Organizations can benefit from IoT data to help improve supply chain management and monitor equipment performance in machines for preventive maintenance and quality control. Consumers who purchase IoT-enabled appliances can provide information about their appliances directly to a company, so repair workers can diagnose problems with an appliance by remotely accessing the machine via mobile applications designed to capture this information.

Another upcoming trend is wearable devices such as smartwatches and Google Glass. Smartwatches not only tell time, but can be used to perform functions such as heart-rate monitoring that can be forwarded to a physician or employees accessing enterprise mobility applications to submit or download important information.

Google Glass has audio, video and photo functionality and can also be used for geolocation tracking. Google Glass applications can be used by physicians and nurses to view a patient’s medical history that is displayed over the latest medical scan or even directly over the patient to identify problem areas. In the manufacturing industry, the device can be used to transmit information about a machine and the maintenance it may need. Information can be captured in real-time so immediate decisions can be made regarding repairs.

The development of mobile devices and applications has made an incredible impact on the personal and professional lives of millions of people. If a company has an effective security strategy to keep corporate information from leaking to hackers, the possibilities and benefits from enterprise mobility are endless. By embracing what secured mobile applications can do by using data and applying it to a number of functions and practices, companies can become more efficient, productive and agile in the face of increasing competition.