One interesting challenge that’s emerging for companies out of the bring your own device (BYOD) and iPad-at-work trends is deciding who’s responsible for setting and enforcing policies when it comes to employee-owned devices. The immediate assumption is that it should be the IT department, but what group within IT? Security, network management, and user support teams can all make a claim that it should be them.
There’s even the question of whether or not IT is even the right department to take ownership of the situation. Some HR executives are claiming that this is an employee policy issue and therefore their responsibility. Some finance chiefs are claiming that they should own mobile devices if there’s going to be any expense sharing with employees or a stipend that helps users purchase devices for work.
In a growing number of organizations, there’s talk about creating a new position or a dedicated team to handle everything mobile – iPhones, iPads, Android handsets, in-house and public app stores, and anything else related to iOS, mobile, or BYOD. In other words, a mobility chief, or iOS Czar.
The fact is that mobility of this type is new to many businesses. While many companies have had mobile solutions in place for years, they were often reserved for executives, managers, and those departments that needed to be mobile in order to function like sales and marketing. The situation today involves a much broader range of employees performing a much wider range of tasks. Even without the issues surrounding BYOD and employee-owned technology, this is new ground.
The idea of creating a dedicated team that handles all mobile technology needs — both employee and employer-owned — has a lot of merit. Although mobile management shares a lot of concepts with systems administration, there are also a lot of differences. Generally, mobile management tools are new additions to IT’s tool case. Mobile management needs a focus on direct user engagement that other IT teams don’t often need to provide. While there is a security concern, there’s also the need to balance that concern with the possibility that users will object if their devices are locked down too much. That can lead to users completely ignoring mobile use policies and hiding the fact that they’re even using personal devices on the job.
Having a single individual or a team that can be the face of mobile technology for employees has real advantages. First and foremost, it takes the pressure off other IT teams. It probably won’t mean that other IT personnel won’t be needed in supporting mobile devices, but it will create a go-to person that can take the heat and manage the situation.
With someone focusing on mobile and nothing else, many things — problems, user needs, documentation, training, etc. — can be kept from falling through the cracks.
It also offers a chance to create a multi-disciplinary mobile team – one whose members have IT skills, expense management experience, a human resources background, training experience, project management skills (particularly around app or web development), and an in-depth understanding of the business as a whole and the needs of its major departments.
That’s a tall order, but implemented correctly and with an appropriate level of authority, it can ease a lot of pressures within an organization and develop a more holistic approach to mobile technology. If nothing else, it’s a chance to rebrand or reframe mobile technology as something that’s not associated with the frustrating experience many users have had with IT over the years.