Russ Levanway,

You secured your network, created policies and procedures, hired a consultant, and selected and installed appropriate technology.  You’re good to go… until your data and technology hit the road.

Until recently, up to 90 percent of business computing was done on desktop computers, often as part of an organization’s network. The last few years, however, have brought steep increases in the use of mobile devices as processing power and availability of applications have risen. The days of lugging a laptop around may be over.

Smart phones, tablet computers, mobile point-of-sale units and other devices bring businesses great benefits and opportunities.  They allow a sales force to operate smoothly from the road. Proposals and documents can be created anywhere. Transactions are initiated, deals are signed, and payments are received.

Of course, risks and challenges accompany convenience.  Devices aren’t in a secured, controlled environment. They are susceptible to data loss, theft, and environmental damage. When’s the last time you heard of somebody dropping a desktop PC into a toilet or sending a monitor through the washing machine?

Here are other things to consider.

Before selecting devices and applications, talk to the people who will be using them. Learn how the devices will be used, what roles they will fill, what devices and processes they will replace, and what the users expect.  Pay special attention to ideas that can be implemented throughout the organization.

Consult with your Information Technology (IT) professionals early in the process. Even if you like doing your own research, they can point you in the right direction and help you avoid inappropriate solutions. Speak with others who currently use products you’re considering.  Read online reviews to discover pros and cons of devices and applications.

After selecting devices and applications, resist the urge to use devices until you have established clear use guidelines and policies.

Do you have a plan for dealing with lost or stolen devices? Can your IT department provide support for mobile devices? Will you deny access to certain apps or content? Will you enact other restrictions?

What about BYOD? This is short for “Bring Your Own Devices,” which means employees use their own devices to perform work related duties. If so, do the devices use encryption?  Are employees required to use a PIN-based lockout?  If a device that contains company information is lost or stolen, do you have permission to remotely wipe data and/or applications?

If your company provides devices, are they available for personal use? Can employees’ children or others use the devices? Who decides which apps are installed? Can employees root (or jailbreak) a device? Who is responsible for a lost or stolen device?

Strong, clear policies are the first step for keeping your organization’s network, data and mobile devices secure.  The next thing to consider is management of mobile devices.

There’s a good reason Mobile Device Management (MDM) is a field of its own.  Most IT departments stay plenty busy managing their in-house networks.  As mobile use skyrockets, new apps and the capabilities of many devices precede full security measures. Staying ahead of the game is difficult, but necessary.

MDM helps prevent common problems such as configuration issues due to human error.  Your MDM team will also review and install applications, centrally manage application changes, help you back up and share files across devices, allow copying and/or wiping of files remotely, and provide security from viruses and identity theft.

As your company takes advantage of new technologies, don’t let others take advantage of your organization’s sensitive data or equipment.  Make your mobile device plan today.

Russ Levanway is the CEO of TekTegrity, an IT Managed Services Provider serving the Central Coast and Central Valley. The organization’s Total Systems Management™ (TSM) service model provides preventative IT support at fixed monthly fee levels. For more information, visit www.tektegrity.com.