The mobile phone has blurred the lines between work and homelife but businesses are failing to take advantage of the opportunities mobile offers.
A panel at the first Daisy Wired? conference in Chipping Norton said organisations are only starting to learn the benefits that remote working can give them. Spencer Bradshaw, solution development manager at Vodafone, said the days of businesses buying devices ‘for the sake of it’ are over. He said: ‘If you buy £500,000 worth of devices for staff and you can’t actually fit the devices into their uniforms, you are wasting a lot of money.’
Richard Bennett, EMEA director and chief technology officer for unified comms and collaboration at Avaya, said most organisations were struggling with a proper mobile strategy, given how consumers want to use their own smartphones at work. There are particular tensions about who owns the data on a phone. If a device is stolen and a handset is wiped, could that include a user’s personal photos? Caroline Gorski, managing partner for O2 retail and leisure, said: ‘It’s my technology that I have invested in but my employer is asserting rights over it and how the data is used.’
If the problems with implementation were solved, the panel said the benefits of remote working are clear. O2’s Gorski said: ‘Out of 200 staff [where I work], between 75% and 80% of those individuals are home based so we save around £7,000 per year in desk costs. It gives employees significant time back in their lives not to come into the office.’
Each of the panel’s four members agreed a choose your own device system, where an employer gives its staff a range of handsets to pick from, is the best balance. Richard Wright, b2b channel manager at Nokia, said: ‘Technology’s real bonus is how we can facilitate the ability to share content with team members. We could have online portals where team members can work cooperatively.’
He added employers using Nokia devices can allow staff to store personal details on Microsoft’s Skydrive cloud service, with business information accessed through its Sharepoint system. He said: ‘If you leave the business, the company can cut connectivity to that but I can still keep my personal content.’
Vodafone’s Bradshaw added: ‘The technology has been around for a long time. It’s taken time for it to converge for people to take advantage of them. Organisations are starting to learn the benefits. The thing that has really helped is the correlation of how people can be more efficient when they work where they want.’
Daisy Group is set to launch a mobile device management system later this month, allowing businesses to remotely control Apple, Android and BlackBerry handsets.
The service has been trialled recently with a number of its Vodafone customers. The business is offering four different types of security. The most basic level allows companies to remotely wipe and lockdown a handset. At its strongest, the handset can be geofenced or GPS tracked, so it only works within a certain area. Businesses will be charged according to the level of security they sign up to, although they will be able to pick and choose services from different levels.
Andy Spilling, enterprise sales specialist for Daisy, said it was getting more queries from businesses wanting to set up a choose your own device service, when employees are given a selection of handsets for work use. He said: ‘This is something that will be used more in the professional services industry in companies where there is a lot of very sensitive and critical data. Those companies don’t want a multitude of services.’