Workforce Mobilisation

Over the last decade, workforce mobilisation has changed dramatically. Back then, the only mobile workforces with devices were emergency response staff, delivery drivers or the person servicing your gas boiler. Nowadays, who do you know that does not have a smart phone? Also the implications of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and data protection are keys areas to understand within the context of your mobile device strategy.

Most organisations will have a fleet of mobile phones for their management and roaming staff. Originally for calls, texts and emails, the mobile phone has evolved into a small computer and now has apps for pretty much everything you could want. As well as business apps, are your staff able to download any apps they want? Viewing real-time train timetables is a good thing, catching the latest Pokémon less so. The worst case is not only that they spend too much time playing rather than working, they could also start to incur serious excess data usage charges with some apps like SatNav. Now add in other apps which could compromise company data stored on the phone and it becomes a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

Another consideration is the use of other functionality on the mobile phone like the camera. Imagine staff within the healthcare environment, they could take pictures of patients or service users. Within the data protection usage your organisation has registered, data (which includes electronic photos) should only be stored for genuine and timely reasons. Even the most harmless of photos could put you in breach of your genuine data protection usage.

It is now becoming essential that customers introduce security and management to their mobiles phones in the same way that PCs have anti-virus and encryption stored on them. We’ve helped our customers deploy managed phones for thousands of their staff.

Once you have secured the device and have a method for managing data risk for lost or stolen devices, you can consider how you want remote workforce apps to operate. It could be a simple data gathering function like capturing customer satisfaction surveys through to real-time pickup and delivery information.

Broadly they will fit into the following categories for each app they use:

- One-way data upload from the mobile user

- One-way data download to the mobile user

- Interactive two-way data to your internal systems

- Interactive two-way data to your external systems

So depending on your requirements, BOYD may be suitable, however you are not in control of the device. This means you can not stop the user from upgrading the operating system (which may stop the app), disabling functions or copying company data and sending it to personal email accounts or storage on the phone.

Here are some other things to consider with your application and mobile device management strategy:

- Dedicated app or mobile browser pages?

- If the phone is out of signal, should the app store data locally. Easier when the app is gathering data to upload only but any downloads (which maybe pulling information on an asset for example) would need to be downloaded before losing connection.

- If it is a bespoke app you have had created or from a software supplier, is it available in the online store? How do I manage installation and configuration?

- Would Android or iOS be a better solution?

- Should I restrict access to settings so that users only have fixed options they can set?

We have helped customers deploy thousands of secure mobile devices across their workforces and can provide help on designing and configuring the best solution for your unique requirements.

If you think we can help, please contact us to discuss your requirements.