There’s no denying that we are an on-the-go and always-on culture. Three out of every five workers say they no longer need to be in an office to be productive. Today’s technology enables a new level of flexibility that allows employees to stay connected wherever they are and has created seemingly endless remote work scenarios, allowing users to be more productive on the go – whether during working hours or not.
As a result, connected organizations are reaping the rewards: faster decision-making, decreased cycle times and more collaboration. Companies that embrace and enable the connected, mobile employee will generate better results whether measured in sales, development or other metrics. Research from CapGemini found that mobile workers who use personal devices for both work and personal purposes put in 240 more hours per year than those who do not.
What can possibly go wrong? Well, for most organizations, rolling out a successful mobile computing strategy does not just happen. Employees armed with mobile devices are typically faced with a huge roadblock right out of the gate: not being able to access the enterprise data that they need to get their jobs done. The employee gets the email or comments related to a project or document, but what if they need to access a contract that is referenced or need to review or edit the underlying materials in real time? Further, even if the employee can access the materials, organizations need to maintain the same controls, auditing and tracking on the information as if they were operating from within the enterprise firewall.
78 percent of Fortune 500 companies have turned to Microsoft SharePoint to securely store and internally share files. While keeping corporate documents safe and compliant within an enterprise content management (ECM) system makes good sense for employees at their desktop, it often creates huge barriers for employees on-the-go. With information in siloed and secured content stores, employees with the best intentions get surprisingly inventive and creative at getting their work done and resort to unapproved and untracked workarounds, such as consumer grade synch technologies or personal email accounts. I have a vivid memory from a meeting with a couple of bankers where they both pulled out their locked down corporate devices, as well as their personal phones, to get access to information outside of the purvue of the bank’s security and compliance controls – one happily using Gmail, the other Dropbox. While the work gets done, they are exposing the company to undue risk by circumventing controls. With breaches being reported every day, IT cannot turn a blind eye to these workarounds.
And, the problems don’t end there. When employees can’t access critical customer account details, product designs or sales presentations when on-the-go, business suffers. Customers get frustrated, product development falters and deals could be delayed or even lost.
The solution is to create a unified mobile experience, securely bringing together employees, mobile devices and enterprise content without sacrificing security, accessibility or productivity. Here are four important steps to empower your mobile workforce while remaining secure and compliant:
- Create direct mobile access: Find a solution that enables high-bandwidth, direct access from mobile devices to corporate ECMs or file stores. This would eliminate the need for employees on the move to go back to the office or connect via a VPN to access, review and save work-related documents. And this eliminates the need for employees shipping information through self-provisioned, untracked workarounds. This type of solution should also maintain all ECM access rules, to ensure data is secure and compliant.
- Unite content silos: The goal is to provide ubiquitous mobile access to data regardless of where it resides – in SharePoint, FTP or other ECM or file stores or solutions. This should not require the data being replicated into a mirrored location – you really only want the data to rest in one secured and tracked location. For example, a sales rep could pull up the latest contract for a prospect and once updated in real time, the system knows what to do with it after it’s approved and saved.
- Think beyond the iPhone: A one-size-fits-all mobile security strategy isn’t realistic. While supporting iOS is important for most, it’s tough to predict what devices will dominate your organization down the line. Look for a solution that enables mobile access on any type of device – iOS, Android and Windows. This way, any employee device will have secure access to the data they need without causing the company to be non-compliant.
- Maintain complete compliance control: Keeping pace with employees’ accessibility requirements doesn’t mean you have to give up fine-grained control. You deserve around-the-clock visibility into file and data activity, including logging and audit trails to support compliance requirements. The key is being able to enforce your organization’s own security, compliance and mobile access policies behind-the-scenes while keeping mobile workers productive.
The good news is that mobilizing enterprise content is easier than you think. The key is finding a solution that provides secure access to any content from any devices from anywhere. Once you create this type of unified mobile experience, you’ll replace the “uh oh” moments with “ah ha” moments as you watch employee productivity rise, and you can rest assured that data is secure and compliant.