What Does a Tablet War Mean for a Mobile Workforce?

SuperConnect is the newest division of Slalom, LLC. SuperConnect draws on our extensive experience working with enterprises large and small to help you maximize your effectiveness, be more innovative, and better support your most important assets—employees. SuperConnect helps companies and users work better by harnessing the value of four major trends emerging today: Mobility, Enterprise Gamification, Social Media, and Cloud Computing. To learn more about SuperConnect and what we can do for your company, visit SuperConnect.com.

We have all read about the growth of tablets in the workplace and the pending battle of dominance securing market share. Strategy Analytics posted that 25 million tablets were shipped worldwide during the second quarter of 2012. Apple still leads the group with 68.3% and Android picking up 29.3% market share. Although the numbers are impressive in regards to growth, I see less and less articles on how to empower employees with tablets.

Garret Carlson: Sr. Director, Sales & Business Development and Co-Founder of SuperConnect

Garret Carlson, Sr. Director, Sales and Business Development and Co-Founder of SuperConnect, is passionate about building relationships with clients and partners and delivering exceptionally effective mobile applications.

Tablets provide easy and convenient access to email and the web, but there are many stories about the difficulty of gaining access to corporate systems and information. There is no precedent for the correct method of accessing corporate information on a tablet device, so many organizations refer to PC-based authentication. VPN clients, rights management servers, and other directory access protocols are forced many times to the tablet via mobile device management (MDM) tools.

Although this might fulfill the IT policies, it many times slows down the experience for the user. The additional challenge is that many times you’re dealing with C-level officers, board members, and sales people that historically don’t want to limit their experience with the device. This usually means they will take their personal tablet outside the purview of the corporate IT department and its policies, creating the potential to put corporate networks, and highly sensitive corporate documents and employee information at risk. IT departments work hard to lock down tablets, mobile access to corporate networks/documents, all the technical aspects practiced with employees and contractors.  When you add the potential of corporate political bumps that can come from high-powered, busy executives with varying technical skill levels and interests, you have a recipe for conflict between mobile workers that just want to “do their job” and corporate IT needing to fulfill security policies.

There is no silver bullet to fix the issue, but there are some fundamental ways to help secure data to tablet devices and enhance user adoption.

The first concept would be to build access to company information through dedicated applications. Access to corporate directory data seems harmless until a disgruntled employee decides to look up the CEO’s mobile number and publish it on Craigslist.org. Flexible access policies set through a cloud-based management platform would be an improved approach. Enlist organizations that build mobile applications as a focus, allowing them to help with fulfilling security policies. PC’s have had years of experience to react to security issues such as hackers or malware. Your corporate IT team probably doesn’t have the internal skills to address the problem specific to mobile devices.

The second consideration is to start the download process of an application from a trusted source, ideally a company’s own customizable app store. Android does not have the ability to stop people from putting malware apps in the store. Train your employees to go to one spot to get all corporate applications, also helping to keep builds current and patches consistent.

A third idea would be to build or provide the corporate applications that employees want to use. This sounds silly, but if users feel like corporate applications are slow and lack functionality, they will simply not use them and find work-arounds. Educating employees about data security and intrusion can help with prevention, but at the end of the day the apps must have a look-and-feel that people want to use. Workflow approval apps, corporate directory apps, mobile CRM, training, and enterprise gamification apps might all “work” perfectly providing corporate data, however if they don’t perform well and look wonderful, people won’t use them.

Enterprises need to understand that employees aren’t comparing corporate mobile user interface (UI) to corporate portals, but instead to apps like Angry Birds and Facebook. Ensure your employees use your approved and secure apps to access work by investing in UX/UI or work with a partner who focuses in that area.

In summary, my hope is that enterprise corporations and other businesses begin to focus on enabling employees to leverage their mobile devices to their full extent, making work better and easier while simultaneously conquering security concerns. Great hardware is part of the equation of creating a great mobile experience. Great applications are what help you get your job done.

One Response to What Does a Tablet War Mean for a Mobile Workforce?

  1. Tablet User says:

    Our company just started rolling out tablets as an option for when our laptop leases end. Not many of my co-workers are embracing tablets though. We’ll see if that changes in the next year.

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