Roy Atkinson, Maureen O'Connell, Megan Selva, and Jim Tate
Mobile device support and the consumerization of IT were hot topics last year, and it does not look like that will be changing anytime soon. Today’s workforce is more geographically dispersed than ever, and global workers expect their technology—particularly mobile technology—to keep up, whether their companies provided those devices or not. As you look forward to the rest of 2012, here are some things to think about if you are planning to support mobile devices.
More and more companies are mobilizing their businesses. As part of this movement, these companies want to move the mobile experience beyond email, contacts, and calendars. They want to give employees the ability to access and use business applications that empower them to work anywhere, anytime.
What does this mean for the support staff, and how does it affect their workloads? Immediate answers and responsiveness are critical to the mobile enterprise. Security is another key factor. The enterprise has to be sure that not only are its devices secure, but that its network, applications, and data are secure, too. Compliance and reporting are likewise critical. For all these reasons and more, deploying a mobile device management (MDM) solution makes tremendous sense. However, selecting the right MDM solution can be challenging given all of the choices available today.
Support must be included in the list of criteria you use to select an MDM solution. The provider must have a robust support program that not only provides answers, but also ensures that your mobile enterprise runs smoothly and securely. To help you get started, we have put together some guidelines to help your CIOs and IT administrators embrace and support enterprise mobility in a way that keeps the company secure and compliant.
While focusing on support, you should look for the following:
- Does the MDM provider offer a program to help get users enrolled and up and running quickly and efficiently in their own unique environments?
- Does the solution provider offer hands-on product training?
- Does the provider offer 24x7x365 support?
- Does the vendor have a mobile policy implementation program that ensures that the security and compliance policies your company needs are created and implemented properly?
- What kinds of support packages does the MDM provider offer? A comprehensive support packages should include:
- Access and response;
- Priority definitions and target response;
- Online support; and
- Software enhancements and updates.
With these guidelines in mind, your CIOs and IT administrators should be ready to ask the tough questions and select solutions that serve and enhance the best-in-class mobile enterprise.
ROY ATKINSON, HDI
In an HDI Research Corner report titled “Supporting Mobile Devices,” released in December 2010, Jenny Rains wrote that 41 percent of respondent support centers said that they were keeping up with the pace of emerging mobile technologies, while 49 percent were struggling to keep up. In preliminary data for a follow-up report on this topic, the numbers are telling: only 37 percent of organizations now feel they are keeping up, while 52 percent say they are struggling. Companies and institutions are working hard to establish support policies that protect the interests of both employees and the organization.
How can support centers keep up with the rapidly changing market for new mobile devices in a flexible way? With new models and features being introduced almost daily by the device manufacturers and carriers, it is virtually impossible to sort out all the hardware. Some organizations have tried to address the issue by establishing basic guidelines that identify the features that a device must have before it is approved to connect to internal resources, including email and calendars; compatibility with ActiveSync for Microsoft Exchange and hardware encryption capability are two characteristics that many IT departments require for connected mobile devices. If the devices do not meet the minimum requirements, then the organization will not support them. Other organizations have purchased robust mobile device management (MDM) systems that govern the devices used to access internal resources. Devices that cannot be managed by an organization’s MDM are excluded from support.
A small percentage of organizations simply refuse to support mobile devices that were not issued by the company. Is this stance sustainable? Would the support organization attempt to stop the CEO from using her personal iPad? There are no easy answers. Each organization must find its way through the huge changes taking place in today’s mobile world.
Companies are increasingly offering a broader range of mobile devices to meet employee preferences, or offering BYOD options. Alongside these trends, a common misperception abounds: that allowing employees to choose their device will reduce the need for support from the corporate help desk. This misperception is based in part on the following assumptions:
- Tech-savvy “millennials” comprise a larger percentage of the workforce, and because they came up with technology have fewer questions and require less support.
- BYOD means users are familiar with their device since they already use it, and therefore require less support.
- Mobile device manufacturers can provide the needed end-user support.
On the contrary, at least over the next several years, the increasingly mobile workforce will almost certainly require more support and assistance from the corporate help desk as new technology is introduced and existing technology is stretched in new, creative ways to enable a more mobile work style. Here’s why:
- Millennials are only one segment of the workforce and still a minority, while the majority are workers with varying levels of technology acumen.
- For BYOD users, the way they use their device in the workplace generally will be quite different than the way they use it for personal purposes.
- Aside from BYOD, employees in companies now offering a range of corporate-issue device choices can select their preferred device, but this does not mean they are familiar with it.
- The 24/7 nature of business enabled by remote access and mobile devices, in addition to time-zone differences, requires more after-hours support than ever before.
- Mobile device manufacturer support only goes so far, and does not address the company-specific needs of corporate users.
The takeaway: the help desk can be a true enabler of mobile innovation and choice in the enterprise by comprehensively supporting the diverse needs of all segments of the workforce, and offering support when and where users need it.