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How to craft the best mobile strategies for business

The best mobile strategies require careful consideration before IT can implement them. But the right plan can help any organization take advantage of all mobile has to offer.

With all of its advancements over the past two decades, mobility seems like it should be a no-brainer for any and all organizations, but that's simply not the case. Organizational and IT management continue to grapple with fundamental issues, from security to cost control.

When it comes to implementing the best mobile strategies, then, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for organizations to follow; however, there are a few guidelines that can help companies optimize mobility for specific settings.

Align with organizational missions

Basic IT policies should always include security, acceptable use and BYOD.

It's unlikely that anyone in IT today would argue that mobility -- including wireless technologies, products and services, mobile devices, the internet of things, applications and management systems -- hasn't been an enormous benefit to organizations of all types, sizes and missions. In my almost 40 years in mobility, I've been extremely pleased with the broad range of easily-quantifiable benefits, from the obvious enhancements in productivity and work satisfaction to the fundamental operational improvements in every field of endeavor. It's difficult to imagine modern healthcare, education, manufacturing, travel and even the plain old office without wireless and mobility.

But all too often, IT organizations or even individual departments and users rush to incorporate the latest and coolest new devices without proper consideration of how said devices might advance overall corporate, enterprise or organizational objectives. Just as form follows function in design, so it is with mobility -- any mobile strategy must quantifiably and demonstrably advance higher objectives. No element of mobility can, then, be evaluated in isolation; it's all about what's relevant and appropriate, not just what's cool.

Consider the cost

Cost is a huge consideration for any IT shop, and not just the capital expense (Capex) involved in picking up new gear -- which continues a trend of decline when businesses evaluate it in terms of price, performance and return on investment -- but also the ongoing operational expense (Opex) that can be much higher than the Capex for any given device. BYOD programs have reduced Capex enormously, but Opex is labor-intensive and can, therefore, easily spiral out of control. Thus, IT shops must carefully consider, monitor and manage budgets and operational procedures.

Implement the appropriate policies

Basic IT policies should always include security, acceptable use and BYOD, and, in some cases, associated agreements executed by affected staff. Training, education, support and regular reinforcement are also essential. It's important that all policies mesh with the company's overall organizational objectives, and also that they are not burdensome or even just irritating enough to encourage employees to create their own workarounds that could possibly jeopardize success. It is also essential for any organization to conduct regular reviews for cost, efficiency and even potential legal issues.

Stay flexible

As mobile technology continues to evolve, rigidity in deployed solutions is not going to help any enterprise mobile strategy take flight. IT admins should consider multiple, simultaneous strategies in larger organizations, to give themselves broad exposure to the possibilities and hot backup solutions in the event that one service is experiencing issues. Regular strategic planning updates -- at least twice a year -- are essential, along with technology update briefings regarding the next set of possibilities in devices, apps, networks, cloud and management systems.

One of the elements of mobility that has made remarkable progress over the past decade is in enterprise mobility management (EMM), in terms of the visibility it brings to device, application and information monitoring and control. It is key that IT assure functional EMM integration with other IT management systems, and in newer capabilities such as analytics and cloud, where management visibility is essential to success.

With more and more employees and customers turning to their smartphones or tablets as their primary device of choice, it is imperative for CIOs to set a mobile strategy for their companies.

Also key for IT admins to ensure they implement the best mobile strategies: regular evaluation and consequential optimization of the mobile workforce's productivity. After all, we grade all IT strategies and implementations based on this one key element -- if computers and networks weren't enhancing productivity, we'd all being doing something else with our days. The productivity element is so important, in fact, that my next article will detail how management teams can address such a critical goal.

Next Steps

Make mobile centers of excellence the focus of any IT strategy

Try these three mobile app strategy essentials

How BYOD advances a mobile security strategy

This was last published in February 2017

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