Mobilising your workforce can have huge benefits in terms of productivity and flexibility. Could it hold the key to transforming remote operations for charities?
Last year, we covered the topic of mobilisation. In the article, we explored the rise of mobile technology in the workplace, and what it could mean for the future of the charity sector.
In this new age of remote working, we revisit the topic and explore how Mobile Device Management can help charities secure the future of their remote operations.
The most obvious applications of mobilisation and Mobile Device Management (MDM) are in the realm of remote working.
At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic we explored whether remote working would be a viable option for the charity sector. Six months down the line, the question seems quaint.
As we move towards a model of blended working (a combination of office-based and remote work), charity leaders are beginning to form the consensus that remote working has highlighted the benefits of more agile solutions. Many of these benefits were present in the sector long before COVID-19, and mobilisation is a logical next step in longer-term planning.
Many organisations combine office-based duties with fieldwork or rely on volunteers to undertake vital duties. Mobilisation can help to empower these people and help them to work more effectively.
Even administrative workers can benefit from greater mobilisation. With many charities making contingency plans for an additional or localised lockdown, mobilisation is a cost-effective way to increase the tech capabilities of a distributed workforce. Investment in remote working could have a disproportionately high reward in the charity sector, as flexible working arrangements could enable charities to tap into a wider pool of talent - including people shielding for health or disability reasons, working parents or skills-based volunteers.
The primary concerns (besides cost, which may be prohibitive for smaller organisations. These organisations may want to look into Bring-Your-Own-Device [BYOD] solutions) will be security-related. Mobile Device Management can help to address these concerns.
Even before the mass exodus from the office, there were a great many benefits to mobilising your workforce.
Access to mobile technology can help improve productivity by reducing downtime and presenteeism, as well as enabling people to get work done even whilst they are unable to be physically present in the office.
Mobile also makes it easier to share information within a centralised library at a faster rate than sole reliance upon a traditional office environment. This encourages collaboration - particularly amongst teams or departments whose enterprises’ might otherwise end up siloed.
We are quickly becoming mobile workers. According to Small Business Trends, the average worker now uses 2.3 devices. Research conducted on behalf of Vodafone before the outbreak of COVID-19 found that 75% of organisations had some kind of flexible working arrangements in place, with IBM estimating that the global workforce will include 1.87 billion mobile workers by 2022. These figures will only have increased since then.
But there are also risks associated with reliance on mobile technology.
These are primarily security risks: mobile devices are easily lost or stolen. This can mean that sensitive supporter, beneficiary, operational or financial data is compromised; or that someone in possession of the device may be able to make changes to sites and systems whilst bypassing less stringent security checks.
That’s why organisations looking to ‘go mobile’ should consider ways of minimising risk factors.
Cast your mind back before March - back to the days of the commute. Picture this:
You’re on the bus. You’re on your way home. It’s been another long day. You’ve finally finished everything you needed to do, and now you just want to sink into the sofa in front of some bad TV.
You get off at your stop, and as you’re walking up the street your hand reaches for your mobile. But finds nothing. It’s not there. It was there when you got on the bus, but now it’s gone. And the worst thing of all?
It’s your work mobile.
Can you remember what organisational data it might hold? What key charity systems you’re logged into? What confidential emails might be accessible?
Wouldn’t the simplest solution be to simply lock or wipe the device at the push of a button?
So how can charities enjoy the benefits of mobilisation whilst managing the potential security risks?
Mobile Device Management (MDM) can enable your organisation’s employees to work remotely and from multiple devices - without sacrificing security.
By using a type of software known as Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM), you can remotely manage your fleet of mobile devices; controlling what each handset can and can’t be used for.
This can include locking down devices for work purposes only, blacklisting apps such as Facebook and YouTube. This could be as specific as allowing devices to only be used for one thing.
You can also track the location of missing devices, set GeoFence locations and specify times when devices can be used outside of those locations. In short, Enterprise Mobility Management allows centralised control over a large number of mobile devices, regardless of where those devices are in the world. This can help organisations to save money. You can work out the potential savings for your charity by using an MDM ROI calculator.
EMM also prevents unauthorised access to apps or corporate data stored on mobile devices. This is accomplished through a number of features, including password protection, encryption, or even remote locking, blocking, and wiping of lost or stolen handsets to protect sensitive organisational or personal data.
If, for example, a device containing sensitive information was lost or stolen, an admin would be able to remotely lock and wipe a device, to ensure that data is uncompromised. EMM allows organisations to choose from multiple security measures, which means that you can take more or less severe measures depending on the potential severity of a given security threat. For example, if you thought it likely that you would be able to recover a device, you could simply lock the device - without having to wipe it. Then, if you did not recover the device, you could wipe it at a later time.
EMM allows organisations to take total control of their devices, whilst putting in place the requisite security measures to make sure that sensitive data is protected.
The benefits of EMM have a far wider scope than the applications currently being used in most organisations. The technology, its applications and its offshoots are in a state of flux. The fragmentation of the EMM space is partially caused by the vast range of technologies available. Many organisations find the proliferation of MDM and EMM-adjacent technologies and services difficult to manage without the consolidation of these services with a sole partner.
eSecurity Planet has offered a framework for evaluating the key features of EMM vendors to ensure that they meet the mobility control and security needs of your charity. This framework drills down into three key components: Visibility, secure access and data protection.
TechTarget also offer a rundown of leading EMM providers in this increasingly crowded market. They survey a range of technologies, from more basic BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) offerings to IBM systems featuring AI and machine learning.
The technology could have a real impact on the charity sector. The flexibility afforded by a mobile workforce is well-suited to organisations who may heavily rely on volunteer or part-time labour. And the security measures that EMM helps put in place could be hugely beneficial in a sector that has experienced a number of high-profile data breaches.