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Posted on: August 23, 2019 By: Lauren Epperly

Everybody wants a secure mobility strategy, but what is anyone doing to make it happen? They don’t just spring into being, pulled whole and breathing out of the box you bought your mobile devices in. They’re the result of a lot of effort, planning, and resources that make a powerful strategy come together and protect our devices and the information contained therein. So how do you go from no strategy at all to the kind of strategy that stops hackers and other bad actors in their collective tracks? A few common elements will get you a long way down that road.

What Needs to Be Part of a Secure Mobility Strategy

Establishing a secure mobile strategy requires different things of every company, but there are some key elements that approach universality — with a few adaptations.

Start with the User. Many potential security failings start at the user level. The user is the one who installs apps and software without it being vetted because the user finds that software necessary to get a job done. The user doesn’t care about your secure mobility strategy; that’s not what keeps the user employed. If your secure mobility strategy gets in the way, you can imagine what the priority for the user will be. Prepare for this by including elements such as self-service provisioning and automated controls on data sharing. The more you can do to get the user on board, the less of a threat the user will pose to your strategy.

Block Off the End Runs. As much as you can do to augment the user experience, there are some things that just need to be prevented. One such event is known as the “quadruple bypass,” a complex and downright terrifying notion for any secure mobility strategy. This is described as a user taking a consumer-grade device, accessing corporate data, and sending that data directly to a cloud source. This leaves in-house IT utterly out of the loop, and it represents a loss of data that’s untracked, unwatched, and unaddressed. Again, the more you can do to prevent users from going off the page the better, but some points simply need to be shut down outright.

Don’t Forget the Training. While you want to do as much as you can for your end user to prevent them from going off the rails, and you want to outright forbid some things that are necessary to forbid, there’s a big middle ground that likewise needs to be addressed. As noted previously, end users represent some of the biggest threats around. Much of this is due to issues they’re not fully aware of, so making training a part of your secure mobility strategy will help address this immediately. It will not only help address these issues but, done properly, it will help encourage employees to stick to the plan as opposed to viewing it as a big hurdle to get around to get their jobs done. Better yet, it can also provide insight into what you can do to improve employee access and not get in the way.

Bring in Automation. Imagine a world where a lost or stolen device isn’t a calamity, but rather an annoyance so minor it’s fixed with a click. That’s potentially available today. With the right services, a user’s business apps and information can be transferred to the new device, and the old one can be locked and remotely wiped to the point of uselessness. This also makes it supremely easy to get new users on board. One click can load a device with all the necessary apps, tools, and information to get the user started quickly.

Protect the Important Stuff. Many companies here use a simple, three-step solution, sorting all data into categories of public, confidential, and restricted. Putting the strongest protection around restricted data and working downward from there — it’s also a good idea to make as little data “restricted” as possible — helps ensure that people have what they need. This is a better alternative than either leaving all data on the equivalent of the front lawn or locking up everything to the point where your network is a room with no doors.

Make Compliance Part of the Framework. While businesses will be impacted by compliance to different levels — some much more so than others — for those that must face regulatory ire, the best thing to do is to build compliance directly into the system. With hundreds of regulations around security and privacy potentially in play, and thousands of specific controls, systems not only have to be ready to meet these, but they must also be ready to demonstrate how these are met to the point of being ready for audit at any time. Thus, building these points into systems right from the start to the point they’re applicable is a vital part of any reasonably secure mobility strategy.

Start Future-proofing Immediately. There’s one major development out there that, over the course of the next several years, will fundamentally change the way you do business and will impact your network in a host of ways. That’s called the Internet of Things (IoT), and if you’re not preparing for it now, you’ll likely run afoul of it later. It’s the last word in mobility; it requires the use of remote sensors and similar tools in a range of ways, and all of these are poised to connect to your network. They do so for the best of reasons — to supply data generated remotely for use in analytics and other functions — but their simplicity and remote location makes them easy to hack. A secure mobility strategy must embrace the IoT, but that’s not where it stops. There are developments like these in the making right now, and building your secure mobility strategy so that it can effectively address future developments is crucial to getting the most out of these.

How to Get Help Establishing a Secure Mobility Strategy

Taking these elements together will go a long way toward producing a secure mobility strategy. But what do you do when you know what needs to be done but not how to carry it out? Drive your secure mobility strategy past the finish line by getting in touch with us at Acuity. Our line of mobility managed services will contribute to a secure mobility strategy by taking some of the heavy lifting off your shoulders and putting it squarely onto ours. Our dedicated approach to mobility services helps to ensure our focus on protecting these systems as they deserve. So just reach out to us for a fresh set of eyes to work on managing your secure mobility strategy.

Posted on: August 13, 2019 By: Lauren Epperly

The High Cost of Business Mobility: IT

July 24, 2019

 

The benefits for business of a connected, mobile workforce are enormous. Those benefits are primarily centered around increased capabilities and efficiencies for workers in the field, be they field service or salespeople, and along with the increases in capabilities and efficiencies comes the implied promise of increased profitability.

What Happened to Mobility’s Bottom Line?

That implied promise of increased profitability leaves many businesses scratching their collective head, however, when the bottom line is analyzed: The anticipated ROI on their mobility initiatives often just isn’t there, despite the increased productivity of the mobile workforce.

There are a few different reasons why a company might discover that their mobility ROI is not what they expected — they don’t know how to properly manage their mobile accounts to get the lowest rates possible, for example, which is a case that’s up front and easy to understand. But there’s another factor impacting mobility ROI that’s somewhat less obvious: The high support costs that can often come with a business mobility implementation.

Actually managing a mobility implementation is a many-faceted task: The devices must be ordered and properly provisioned, for example, and then distributed to the appropriate users, who will need to be trained on company-specific applications for the device. And once in the hands of users, support issues will inevitably arise — the user dropped the phone in the pool, or they forgot a password, or any of a long list of other things that can (and do) go wrong with mobile devices.

The Problem of IT and Mobile Device Support

The trouble is that all of these tasks, including mobile help desk support, are typically pushed onto the IT department to deal with. The IT department will do its best to keep up with this new workload that’s been added to all of the other things they need to do, of course, and when the help desk line rings because someone needs a password reset on their mobile device, IT will answer the call.

But therein lie some of the hidden support costs that are helping to drain ROI from business mobility initiatives. IT professionals are typically trained and skilled at their work — and compensated accordingly. The median salary for a Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) network engineer in the U.S. is north of $70,000 annually, for example — and yet, it’s not uncommon in many companies to find these highly-trained, highly-paid IT personnel providing help desk-style support to mobile phone users.

IT is Great — at IT

Very obviously, there are better uses of time for these professionals — maintaining critical IT infrastructure, for example. To exacerbate the problem, although an IT professional is likely to be highly trained at network maintenance, for example, they are equally likely to be untrained in any substantive way on the very mobile devices for which they’re now tasked with providing end user support. Because they’re untrained, the support outcomes might not be as successful as they should be, or else they take longer to resolve than they would in the hands of a support specialist who was actually trained on the mobile devices being fielded.

That combination of highly-paid staff spending inordinate amounts of time to do something for which they’re not properly trained is a leading contributor to lower-than-expected ROI on mobile implementations — and it’s especially pernicious, because it can be very hard to detect at an executive level that this is where mobility is bleeding dollars away from the company.

The Right Tool for the Mobile Support Job

Fortunately, there’s a solution that both eases the headaches of IT and cuts costs while doing it. Wireless Watchdogs’ managed mobility solution (MMS)  manages the entire mobile lifecycle, from planning and provisioning to help desk support to device retirement, and takes the burdens and the costs away from busy IT departments — and helps our clients truly capitalize on the promise of ROI that’s inherent to mobility. If you’d like to learn more, request a demo today and start earning the ROI you truly deserve:

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Posted on: July 19, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

It’s easy to say that there’s a great new service that literally every business needs; that’s essentially the marketing plan behind every new service that targets the business user. The benefits of mobility managed services, however, make it perfectly clear that this is just as the marketing suggests: a great new service that literally every business needs. This is particularly true for businesses that either have a strong mobile presence internally or would like to have one.

The Benefits of Mobility Managed Services Can’t Be Ignored

Examining the benefits of mobility managed services makes it abundantly clear that this is indeed a vital new service that can deliver important new opportunities for your business.

Cost Savings. Cost savings, by themselves, are reason enough for businesses to consider a wide range of new possibilities and managed mobility services certainly provide. Some estimates suggest that the annual cost of mobile-device use for businesses is about $1,900 per user per year. This includes a variety of points, including the actual mobile hardware, the service plans required to use that hardware, and the internal IT services required to set up and maintain — not to mention keep secure — the hardware. By turning to a managed mobility services provider, users get to pull a lot of that internal IT expense off the table immediately because the managed mobility services provider steps in.

Cost Transparency. It’s one thing to offer cost savings immediately, but managed mobility services may pose additional cost savings through another point: cost transparency. The changing landscape of mobile services — costs are constantly rising and a company’s needs often change, sometimes in the middle of a billing cycle — means that pinning down costs going forward can be difficult. With managed mobility services, the costs remain much more visible and identifying any waste beyond that not only becomes easier to accomplish but easier to address. Better yet, some improvements can be more readily identified as well. Some users will discover they’re eligible for free upgrades, but before managed mobility services, they weren’t taking advantage of that eligibility.

Getting Back on Task. By taking your IT staff off mobility detail, you’ve now freed up staff to pursue other opportunities within IT as well. IT normally wears a lot of hats in any organization; they’re handling security, handling repair issues and operator problems, upgrades, patch maintenance, and a laundry list of potential tasks. Removing mobility-related tasks from the lineup frees up all that time to put IT back to work on the others, which can offer a wide range of benefits in and of itself. It’s not just IT that receives this benefit, either; your regular end-users within the business also don’t have to focus on mobility issues. If something goes wrong, there’s a managed service provider at the other end waiting to make everything come out all right in the end. This lets your users get back to work faster, and improves their chances at being profitable.

Greater Expertise. Mobility managed services are experts in mobility services — at least the good ones are. Those who aren’t experts will likely find themselves outmatched by their more adept competitors in fairly short order. Mobility managed services providers have a vested interest in knowing their field because it improves their attractiveness to potential customers. Given how many businesses are still struggling with mobile, that can mean businesses aren’t just bringing in a service provider, they’re also bringing in an expert who understands mobility and will be on-hand to help answer questions.

Constant Support. Many managed mobility services providers offer round-the-clock support. Again, it’s a key distinction from less-available competitors and a point that keeps customers interested. For their customers, meanwhile, it’s also a big component of peace of mind; the provider is available when it’s needed meaning that downtime is limited, and you’re up and running when you need to be. Some firms will even offer service level agreements (SLAs) that ensure uptime and offer remedies — prorated bills, outright refunds, and so on — for when the uptime isn’t achieved.

Augmenting the Mobile Presence. Mobility has proven to be valuable for businesses on several fronts. It not only improves efficiency, but it also improves morale by making a workday more flexible. That flexibility is also helpful given the increasingly global nature of business; running a nine-to-five business is all fine and well if all of your customers run likewise. For those trying to do business in other states or countries, however, that nine-to-five is less a framework and more of a straightjacket. By opening up mobility and flexible schedules, a business is better able to address the needs of customers whose time zones don’t closely align with the business’s own.

Matching the Competition. For businesses that turn to managed mobility services, they’re in an increasingly good crowd. Some studies find that 87% of respondents are already working with a managed mobility services provider. Large numbers of customers may already be taking advantage of such services for all the benefits previously described. Those that aren’t, therefore, are facing a substantial disadvantage in their field. Bringing in managed mobility services can help level the playing field and give a business the same advantages its own competitors currently enjoy.

How to Bring the Benefits of Managed Mobility Services to Your Business

The benefits of managed mobility services make it a service that few businesses can confidently brush aside. Taking advantage of these benefits can be as easy as getting in touch with a managed mobility service provider and setting up a program. However, since it’s that easy, there are a lot of choices out there. That makes telling where to start a challenge — a challenge readily overcome by getting in touch with us at Acuity. Our managed mobility services program starts with assessments of your current services designed to spot savings and follows up with our own wide range of options, making sure you get the most return for your investment. When you’re ready to bring the benefits of managed mobility services into play, just reach out to us to get started.

Posted on: July 16, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

We talk a lot about our managed mobility services. There’s good reason for that: Effective use of mobility in business requires effective planning, proper mobile device selection, provisioning and deployment, wireless account expense management, a secure mobile device EOL strategy, and so much more. But aside from managing the mobility as a whole, there’s another facet that’s also important: The management of the devices themselves, commonly known as mobile device management, or simply by its acronym, MDM.

MDM software sits on the phone itself. Access management, identity management, device partitioning, and file synching are just a few of the device-centric features that come with typical MDM software. Because these typical feature sets enable both tighter security and increased efficiency, it’s easy to see why anyone tasked with overseeing mobility for their business would be wise to take a look at existing MDM options on the market.

Which MDM Software is Right for Your Business?

There are a variety of solid MDM choices on the market. MobileIron and VMware’s AirWatch are two leaders in the field, but Microsoft has made some inroads, too, by bundling its Intune MDM software as a part of Microsoft 365 Business packages. With multiple options, which MDM software should a business choose?

The answer, as with so many things, is that it depends on the particular needs of your business. All MDM software is not created equal, and MDM solutions that have richer feature sets are going to come with a higher price tag. Solutions like Intune, on the other hand, are relatively inexpensive, or even free for businesses that are already running Microsoft 365 Business — but the lower price tag of course comes with some limitations that are not present in the more expensive solution.

MDM in the Real World: A Quick Example

As a quick example, consider the case where an executive uses both a personal and a company-issued mobile device to access company resources. With Intune, device management is per-user, and not per device, which means that the executive’s personal device will have to have the same applications, policies, and everything else as their corporate device — a situation which may be far from ideal, from the executive’s perspective. Other solutions, like MobileIron and AirWatch, on the other hand, utilize device-based management — and thus do not suffer from this kind of limitation.

None of which is to say that Intune is a bad solution, because it’s not — it fits the needs of many businesses, and it’s our viewpoint that even a less-featured MDM solution is better than no solution at all. To that end, we work with all of our MDM customers to find and build out the solution that best meets their needs in terms of pricing and that has a feature set that’s in line with their plans, policies, and existing infrastructure.

How Wireless Watchdogs Approaches MDM

Because we work closely with our customer on finding the MDM solution that’s right, the first step is always consultative. After identifying their needs and which MDM software might be right, we’ll then typically build out a limited (in terms of number of users and devices) solution for them so that we can test, see it used in the field, and understand if it’s truly the right fit for them. Only once that limited deployment is proven correct do we move on to enrolling all devices and providing the ongoing management needed to ensure that the MDM software is always working properly.

So which MDM solution is right for your business? The one that fits your budget while simultaneously meeting your needs for mobile device management. If you’re considering MDM for your business’s mobility implementation, don’t hesitate to contact us if you need help sorting it all out.

And if you’d like a little more information on implementing MDM, please download our free eBook, A Guide to Implementing Mobile Device Management. It’s full of great information on establishing MDM goals and policies, securing your mobile devices, and the like, and you can grab it right here.

 

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