In an earlier column we talked about some great ways to get your arms around the challenge of managing the mobility initiative inside your organization. We covered the components of a mobile strategy and the need for device standardization, contract consolidation and user-profile-based issuance of devices.
But as I said, there’s more. What follows are some additional components of an effective mobility policy.
Regarding corporate ownership of phone numbers, there’s an entire emerging debate about the extent to which an organization “owns” the identity of its employees. For example, one government agency does not permit its employees to mention on their Facebook or MySpace pages that they work for the agency (and no, it’s not one of the spook shops).
That may be taking the idea of company-owned identity a bit too far — but I do recommend that companies explicitly “own” and retain all rights to the phone numbers allocated to employees. This is to minimize relationship breakage in the event that the employee departs the company (you don’t want potential customers to be unable to reach salespeople, for example). This policy requires a concomitant employee-departure process that explicitly defines how an employee’s contact information (e-mail, instant message ID, phone number) are handled after his/her departure (forwarded to peer, forwarded to supervisor and so on).
On the flip side, it’s smart to permit employees to use their work devices for a reasonable amount of personal use, rather than prohibit all personal use. Why? Because strictly prohibiting personal use essentially forces a traveling employee to purchase and maintain a separate personal mobile device in addition to the authorized personal device. If the employee is using a device to interact with customers (which is often the case), there is a strong temptation to connect with customers on the personal (rather than authorized corporate) device — because that phone number belongs to the employee. So the end result is that the company pays for a device that isn’t used, and isn’t able to protect against relationship breakage.
Finally, there’s the whole issue of security device life-cycle management. Best-in-breed organizations typically have policies in place for device security, including: password or biometric access; lost/stolen device wiping; automatic tracking of all in-use and notification of unused devices (such as a case in which a device is purchased, associated with a monthly fee, but is not actually being used by the user — often a sign that the user is relying on a personal device; and, process for returning/recycling end-of-life devices, particularly if there’s a need to conform to a corporate green or sustainability policy.
The challenge lies in getting rid of devices in an environmentally sound fashion (often by providing them to charities or nonprofits) while also protecting sensitive corporate data. Essentially, the company needs assurance that the devices have been thoroughly wiped prior to donation.
Bottom line: Companies need well-engineered mobility strategies to wring the maximum advantage out of their mobility initiatives, and a good strategy requires sound policies and practices.