The Importance of Context in Successfully Enforcing Mobile Device Usage Policies
When the iPhone first launched, it was with the slogan “This Changes Everything”. Prophetic words. As we look back, while smartphones may not have changed everything, there is no doubt they have changed the way we do most things. From what awakened you this morning, to the last thing you’ll check before bed, the productivity gains from a single device are without parallel.
But most companies today face a challenging duality. As the Forrester Report “How to Wake Up from the Nightmare of Workplace Technology Distraction” points out, “as companies attempt to stay competitive, they inevitably introduce technologies that distract their workforces…” The same devices that make your teams more productive are also the greatest cause of productivity loss and a leading cause of accidents in the workplace and on the road. Mobile devices are widely recognized to be one of the most pervasive addictions in our society.
So how do we get the best that technology has to offer while protecting your employees, your assets and the communities you serve?
Balancing the Need to Stay Connected with the Need to Get Things Done
Most companies that allow employees to use a mobile device, whether corporate-issued or BYOD, establish policies for acceptable use, security and safety. Those policies are written to safeguard against distractions on the job, or behind the wheel, that can lead to safety risks, as well as to protect access to company data or networks.
There is a need for balance however, between the advantages mobile devices bring to work processes and communications with the need for a productive workforce and a safe working environment. Policy compliance becomes a challenge when those two competing priorities are out of balance.
Enforcement efforts need to take into consideration the need to stay connected with the need to get things done. They must be “undefeatable” rather than rely on the good-faith trust between employer and employee. They must be device and network agnostic as to the proliferation of device options and BYOD continues to grow. And, they must be flexible enough to enforce only when and where policies must be applied.
Taking Context into Consideration When Enforcing Usage Policies
Context, such as physical location or proximity, time of day or even workgroup, can help inform acceptable use policies for an organization. The ability to automatically adjust which apps or features are enabled or suppressed, based on context can proactively eliminate worksite liabilities and improve employee productivity rates simultaneously.
Contextual Mobile Device Management or CMDM is a technology that manages the abilities of mobile devices in contextual “zones” or defined areas of risk, such as driving or operating heavy machinery. CMDM software readily integrates with a company’s IT ecosystem and core technologies. It resides on an employee’s mobile device and intelligently identifies the zone or environment where he or she is located based on any number of triggers including geo-fencing for location, time of day or day of week parameters, workgroup definitions.
Strategically placed beacons may enhance context identification in some work zones. Once the context is identified, allowable and productive applications are enabled when and where they should be used, while at the same time apps that are distracting, dangerous, or out of compliance with your corporate policies are suppressed.
CMDM ensures optimal engagement, safety and productivity in any work environment. As an employee moves between work environments – say from a vehicle to a warehouse – the functionality on his/her device automatically adjusts to support the policies established for those environments. This takes the guesswork out of mobile device compliance, for both the employer and the employee, and allows employees to use their mobile devices in the right way at the right time in the right place.