The challenge of managing a diverse mobile device fleet

Kenneth Arthur, VisionID
Kenneth Arthur, VisionID

Mobiles also increasingly play an important role in customer interactions, says VisionID CCO Kenneth Arthur

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18 October 2019 | 0

Growing numbers of organisations are providing smart mobile devices to field workers, engineers, or retail staff because it enables them to deliver better customer service, while improving their productivity. But the price of this progress is increased complexity. It is creating challenges for IT departments to manage.

Mobility delivers the ability to work remotely from any location, and the adoption curve shows no signs of slowing down; in fact, use of mobile devices, from smartphones and enterprise PDAs to rugged handhelds and tablets, is proliferating rapidly. Total mobile connections are growing by 6.2% every year, according to the GSMA, while categories like rugged devices are keeping pace, with 5.7% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), according to 360 Research.

Today, many organisations provide individual users with more than one device, often from different vendors, using different operating systems and on different billing plans from several different mobile operators. For enterprises operating in multiple countries, it can be hard just to keep an inventory of all mobile hardware, especially if purchasing is decentralised, there is no standard hardware, or if some employees insist on using their own personal devices for work.

To complicate things further, these mobile devices are often running mission-critical apps, which makes it vital that every part of the hardware, software and connectivity is working as it should. Mobiles also increasingly play an important role in customer interactions. Whether it is a driver who needs to log the parcel delivery with a signature, or a retail sales operative checking stock levels from their tablet, these devices are now a very visible part of how customers perceive the company. IT teams need to ensure very high levels of service availability, since this experience will often determine a customer’s perception of the company.

Device management

But there is more: another consequence of mobile devices’ increased importance is that security is now paramount. If a device is lost or stolen, the organisation needs to be able to shut down the device at source and prevent any data from leaking. There has also been an increase in attacks on smart devices as a potential weak point for criminals to exploit. Research from Zimperium found that 60% of devices accessing or containing enterprise data are mobile, and most of them lack adequate security protection.

The risk of having an unmanaged device in the field is too great for many organisations, which makes it essential to implement mobile device management. Ideally, IT teams should be staging these devices, installing SIM cards, loading apps, and implementing MDM. But a company’s IT resources are typically stretched as it is.

Mobility as a service takes away this pressure from IT departments. At VisionID, we provide a full end-to-end managed service, and act as a single point of contact for customers, handling issues ranging from rolling out new devices, arranging repairs and replacements, to overseeing operating system and device management upgrades. This saves the organisation from having to deal with multiple vendors; any issues get resolved promptly.

Whether it is a logistics company with 30 vans, or a global multinational, it means digital enterprises can still give their users the functionality they need and enable them to engage with customers as effectively as possible, without the overhead of needing internal IT resources to manage the security and control of their mobile devices.

Kenneth Arthur is chief commercial officer at VisionID

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