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Visitors inspect Blackberry mobile phones at their booth at the CeBit computer fair in Hanover, in this March, 6, 2012, file photo. (FABRIZIO BENSCH/REUTERS)
Visitors inspect Blackberry mobile phones at their booth at the CeBit computer fair in Hanover, in this March, 6, 2012, file photo. (FABRIZIO BENSCH/REUTERS)

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Ten questions to ask before developing a mobile strategy Add to ...

Whether you have a small business or large corporation, mobility is no longer an option. Businesses need to be responsive in order to keep their competitive edge and this means you need to have a solid mobile strategy in place. Here are ten questions to ask yourself that will help you get started:

1. Do you need a mobile strategy? The days of employees operating entirely within the office are behind us. Most likely, some of your employees are already working remotely. So of course you need a mobile strategy to figure out how best to support the mobile devices your employees are using.

2. Which of my employees need to be mobile? Employees can be classified by their roles and how important mobility is to them. For example, an accounting clerk may rarely need to be mobile, which doesn’t justify a corporate-paid device (but you might still want to provide access for a personal device). However, a salesperson in the field depends on mobile technology, so it is essential that you provide it. You might consider different policies for these different groups of employees.

3. Who buys the phones or tablets? If you have employees who rely on mobile for their work, then your company should purchase equipment the same way it purchases laptops or desk phones.

4. Who pays for the monthly bill? The employer should pay for mobile bills if the costs are work-related. Between lower corporate pricing and pooled-minute plans, you will pay less by having the company billed for the charges, not to mention avoiding the hassle of employees submitting expense forms.

5. What risks are involved with my employees using mobile technology? If you have any kind of sensitive or proprietary data, you must have a security plan in place. What if an employee loses a mobile device containing customer data? How would you prevent an unauthorized user accessing your network and corporate data?

6. How do we minimize this risk? There are a number of vendors that provide Mobile Device Management software, which can address security issues. For example, the software would have the ability to remotely wipe a device clean of data if it is lost or stolen. It is also essential that you know which employees are using mobile technology for work and how they are using their devices.

7. Which mobile device(s) should we choose? While Blackberry used to be the corporate standard, the rise in popularity of Android and iPhone devices has many people demanding these options. Since most of your employees would rather have a single device for work and personal use, employee preference is important. For this reason, it is key to narrow your employee’s choices to a number that you know you can work with.

8. What if an employee wants to use their own device? The trend toward BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, is garnering major attention. If you allow employees to use their personal devices to access corporate data, then make sure that you can support the device with regards to security, access to corporate applications, troubleshooting, etc. It is also essential that the employee adheres to whatever mobile strategy you have in place, even if that means installing company software on their own device to protect your data.

9. What about liability? Your written policy should describe who is paying for the device and services, the type of equipment employees are permitted, and mobile security measures. This policy should also cover things like barring driving while using a mobile handset, and what happens when a device is stolen or lost. Employees should sign off on the policy, and have a copy available to them for reference.

10. Do I need to outsource or can I do it myself? If you find all of this overwhelming, you can get outside help, with consulting services to help determine strategy and policies or outsourced support. How much does it cost you to wait on hold with carriers, or have your employees drive to a store to pick up a battery or other equipment?

Help desk, cost management, procurement are all things that can be handled efficiently by specialized firms, freeing you and your staff to focus on your business.

Roger Yang is the CEO of Avema Critical Wireless , a leading provider of mobile management, security and expense management solutions.

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