ITAD, enterprise IT, mobile workplace

The Mobile Workplace Is Here to Stay

There’s no turning back on mobility initiatives in the enterprise now. The trick is making sure that legion of smartphones and tablets is appropriately managed and secured, and that devices get properly de-provisioned and disposed of when the time comes.

Take a walk around the modern office and what do you see? The rows of identical gray cubicles sporting identical gray PCs connected with identical gray wires have mostly given way to open floor plans, colorful collaborative spaces and a proliferation of mobile computing devices of every imaginable flavor.

Welcome to the world of the mobile workplace, a transformation that will not soon be undone. Close to 2.5 billion tablets and smartphones were sold worldwide this year. In a recent survey by The Future Laboratory, 77 percent of businesses say the number of employees using mobile devices at work continued to climb in 2014?

Egged on by ubiquitous mobile access at home, today’s workers want easy connectivity and the ability to use the device of their choosing on the job. A recent Deloitte study found 78 percent of workers under the age of 33 want more mobile technology capabilities at work, such as access to corporate data and networks, and the ability to print from their smartphones and tablets. Around 58 percent said they would refuse a job with a company that restricted mobile access.

Businesses now clearly understand that mobility builds competitive advantage and boosts employee morale and productivity. According to the Future Laboratory, more than 55 percent of business leaders say they have no policy banning the use of personal devices at work, and only 12 percent say they discourage the use of personal devices for work.

While the mobility trend may have changed the workplace for the better, it’s added a number of new challenges to already overburdened IT administrators, who need to account for the provisioning, support and ultimately the disposition of a new class of devices that access the corporate network, but leave the building in pockets, handbags, backpacks and briefcases every night.

In response, IT leaders have turned to mobile device management systems to try to get their arms around the problem. While MDM platform development has largely lagged the device adoption curve, the new breed of MDM solutions is proving mostly capable of handling critical mobility aspects such as security, applications controls and cost tracking.

But the realities of the mobile workplace are revealing another significant truism: True mobile device management is as much a policy and governance issue as it is a technology challenge. That’s particularly clear when it comes to the way organizations handle mobile device lifecycle issues like replacement, decommissioning and disposal.

In addition to being an environmental hazard, discarded mobile devices that have been used in the enterprise can remain a source of critical business data and a point of vulnerability for the organization. A recent IBM study concluded that data could be recovered from most smartphones and tablets in less than three minutes even after being “erased” with manufacturer-installed utilities. Some 50 percent of tablets purchased on the secondary market contained at least some data from the previous user.

Any diligent and robust MDM strategy must take into account end-of-life issues, ideally by enlisting the services of a trusted ITAD partner who can ensure mobile devices are taken out of service responsibly and securely.

That way you can enjoy the new open floor plan, while ensuring any mobile backdoors into your sensitive data are firmly closed.