8 Steps To Jump-Start A Mobility Practice

Managing Mobile

With the rise of BYOD, the Millennial generation, consumerization of technology and tablets and smartphones, it is no longer becoming optional to make mobility part of a solution provider portfolio, Terry Hedden, CEO of Cloud Guru, said in a presentation at Tech Data's Channel Link at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn.

"Mobility is not something you can ignore," Hedden said. "It's kind of like cloud -- if you don’t offer it you won't exist anymore."

Take a look at the steps he outlined to get on the road toward a successful mobility practice.

Evaluate And Access

The very first step is to take a good look at a potential customer's environment, Hedden said. That includes evaluating any uncertainty an organization may have within its existing environment, and how specific mobile solutions could ease some of that pain.

"The customers have fear, uncertainty and doubt about mobility, but no one is talking about it," Hedden said.

Understand Business Goals And Priorities

After figuring out what is causing pain within the organization, Hedden said to figure out what is making the customer excited. Determine the client's business goals and priorities, including goals for future growth, employee enablement and technology innovation adoption. Then, plan out how a mobile strategy could fit in and enable those goals.

Consider End Users

To start taking a deeper dive into considering the end users, Hedden said to take a look into what the current mobile user experience looks like at the client's company. For example, does the organization want to be able to view documents from afar (or is it already frustrated or using nonsecure ways to get around systems)? Most employers would agree they would like to enable their employees to be more productive, Hedden said, and a mobile strategy can help do that if implemented properly.

"The reality is we need to get into those conversations," Hedden said. "What do customers want their employees to do and produce?"

Address Device Issue

Once a mobile strategy is put in place, solution providers need to decide who will ultimately own that device. The conversation gets trickier as BYOD becomes more prevalent, Hedden said. Local laws complicate the BYOD issue, he added, because solution providers might not be allowed to put agents on phones they don't own. However, they need to take a look at what steps would be taken if there was a problem related to the mobile devices, such as a security breach on the network, and who would be responsible for next steps. MSPs in particular need to be involved in the conversation, Hedden said, because they are clients' first call when problems pop up.

Opt For Life Management

There are multiple benefits to keeping track of the life cycle of a mobile device, including adjusting service fees for older phones and prompting for upgrades, and Hedden said it is important to stay on top of those trends. He recommended using a mobile device management platform to keep track and to act as an umbrella for a variety of other mobile management, such as remote wiping, procurement, activation and provisioning.

"From an employer perspective in our industry, you also want to make your own team more productive and the way to do that is a single plane of glass," Hedden said.

Get Secure

Making sure the mobile device is secure includes securing the device itself, the network and the data, Hedden said. Security needs to be extended to employee-owned devices that are used for secure work functions.

Security is also a great value-add to get the conversation started with a potential new client or a current client without mobile help, Hedden said.

There's An App For That

Customers will access their data and their network through all kinds of apps on their phones, not all necessarily approved by the company. That makes it both more difficult to secure but also takes some of the value out of the conversation for the solution provider, Hedden said. Apps that the solution provider used to be able to sell to clients, such as Adobe, are being replaced by free or low-cost alternatives with only 10 percent of the functionality, but that 10 percent happens to be the only amount the customer used anyway, such as simple photo-editing apps.

Codifying The Mobility Policy

While a lot of clients have mobility policies, solution providers aren't always involved in that conversation -- but they should be, said Hedden. Hedden cautioned solution providers to be aware of local laws around mobility and what information and controls a client is able to put on employee-owned phones when crafting mobility policies.