Bill Detwiler: The explosion of mobile device usage in business has led to some tricky and unexpected support challenges.
I'm Bill Detwiler, and during this episode of TR Dojo, I'll share five mistakes that IT department should avoid when supporting mobile devices.
Mobile devices have been around in one form or another for decades, but with the recent proliferation of smartphones and tablets, they have become a significant IT support issue. And, these devices bring some unique challenge and potential pitfalls. I'll share five of those during this video, and at the end, I'll give you a link to our full list of 10.
So, the first mistake that I see organizations make is not training their IT staff to support mobile devices.
Because these devices have become so commonplace, many IT managers assume that the helpdesk staff knows how to support them. This is a dangerous assumption.
While desktops and laptops are generally similar in physical configuration and operation, smartphones and tablets can vary widely. Phones from the same carrier or even manufacturer, can radically different hardware. The current mobile operating systems are also dramatically different
You must ensure that the helpdesk employees are properly trained for mobile device support just as they would be trained to support anything else.
The significant diversity in mobile device hardware and software, brings us to the second mistake IT departments often make, and that's ignoring the importance of device consistency.
Now, I know it's almost impossible to issue each user the exact same mobile device. Even if every user starts off with the same device, manufacturers phase out old models quickly and you may find that the devices that you initially purchased are no longer available when you need to buy a few more.
Also, different employees have different needs. And a one-size-fits-all approach may not be practical.
However, you should try to limit the number of models used in your organization. The greater the variety of devices being used, the more difficult it will be for your helpdesk to provide adequate support, provide replacements, and manage costs.
The third mistake on our list is not having, disseminating, or enforcing mobile device policies.
There is a lot of potential for abuse when it comes to mobile devices. Employees can run up extremely high bills or use them in a way the opens your company up to legal liability.
As you would with any new company-issued piece of equipment or service, you must create an acceptable use policy for mobile devices.
If you need help creating one, check out TechRepublic's latest Guide to Policies and Procedures. IT has several boiler-policies that you can modify to meet your organization's needs.
The fourth mistake to avoid not taking security and malware seriously.
Since mobile devices were first introduced, many IT professionals have ignored mobile device security issues.
And I can understand why. Until recently, mobile devices lacked the software and the processing power to be much of a threat. But today, smartphones and tablets have operating systems and applications that rival the traditional PC. In fact many believe that in the coming decade mobile devices will be the computing platform for most individuals -- consumer and corporate.
And while malware may not be a major threat today, it will be in the years to come. I encourage you to at least evaluate and consider deploying an anti-malware solution if it's available for the mobile devices you support.
And our focus on security brings us the fifth and final mistake IT departments often make, and that's not having a plan to quickly deal with lost or stolen devices.
Smartphones and tablets are capable of storing gigabytes of data, which makes them attractive targets for data thieves. They are also valuable objects that are easily resold, which makes them attractive to regular thieves.
Unfortunately, many organizations don't have an adequate plan for to dealing with lost or stolen devices.
Nearly all the major smartphone manufactures and some third parties now offer centralized management solutions with remote wipe and remote lock capabilities. If your mobile devices will store sensitive corporate data, I strongly encourage you to use one of these solutions. And if you're going to allow employees to use personal devices, make sure that your mobile device policies includes a provision for wiping those as well.
Also, make sure that your policy contains provisions for handling employees who lose multiple devices. It probably isn't a big deal if an employee loses a single mobile device or even two. But someone who loses more two devices a year is at best forgetful and irresponsible or at worst selling the phones on eBay or Craigslist.
The five mistakes that I covered during this episode are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to effectively supporting mobile devices.
For more advice, check out Brien Posey's "10 things you should know about supporting mobile devices." I will link to it and other resources in the TR Dojo blog.
For more teachings on your path to becoming an IT Ninja, visit trdojo.techrepublic.com, or you can follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/billdetwiler.
Thanks for visiting the TR Dojo.