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When your mobile-first operations are mission critical and IoT optimized

The problem: As we hurriedly enter the “mobile-first” era, companies are transforming their operations by leveraging mobile technology. Reduction in the costs of highly capable mobile devices, sophistication and proliferation of mobile apps, and growth of mobile-supported cloud services have put mobile technology at the forefront of business transformation. But as we reinvent business in this new mobile-first world, we often forget about a very important detail, and that is: How do we effectively support these now “work from anyplace and anytime” mobile workers?

You may have transformed your business to be mobile first, but are the tools you are using to support your enterprise designed for a mobile-first world? Even if you are using an enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution, most were designed for securing and provisioning mobile devices, and not designed to deal with the very different dynamics of a mobile-first business where device uptime is critical, especially when managing IoT devices that deliver mission-critical information.

The old world: In the traditional PC world, from decades of lessons learned, a rich and seasoned set of helpdesk and diagnostic tools and processes were developed. These tools and processes allowed us to support and train our desktop and notebook users. In this paradigm, supporting a user typically meant either finding out in which building or campus the user is and then getting someone from IT to walk over to their desk, or remotely log into their computer while it was connected to the organization’s network via LAN or VPN. IT could then assess the problem and fix it if it is a software or hardware problem or train the user if it is a training issue. But in the new world, these tools, technologies and processes largely do not work. IT may not be able to physically get their hands on the device or support the end user or IoT device at his/her/its location. To complicate matters further, end users are now using a variety of mobile devices, operating systems and applications that traditional helpdesk and diagnostic tools were never designed to handle. But for end users, the quality of service needs to be as good as or better than the personalized service of someone coming to your desk to help you. If new tech improves some areas of business but decreases the quality of support and training services, are we really making progress? Are we maximizing ROI?

The new world: In the new world, the end user is almost always remote, working from anyplace and at any time. Walking over to their desk is a no go, and having the device connect to your corporate network may not be an option. The end user may be on a bullet train in Japan with the mobile device in his shirt pocket, and IT based in North America needs to fix the problem before the user arrives at a customer site. The challenge is to exceed the quality and service standards of the old world, allowing us to deliver better products and services in the new world. Isn’t that after all what new technology is supposed to bring?

In order to fully realize the potential of mobile technology, we need to have progress in all areas of the business. We need to not only reinvent the business using mobile technology, but also need to exceed the support and uptime standards established by the previous generation of technology. When workers are far away, without proper remote diagnostic and support tools, the damage to business can be catastrophic. We need to be able to not only fix problems remotely, but also provide remote training services as well.

Sending the troops home: Getting users to ship devices back to HQ is not an acceptable solution; it is not only expensive, but it creates downtime, lost productivity and cripples the ROI goals of mobile technology. Experience shows that in many cases, devices are shipped back only to discover that the device is fine, but the issue is caused by a user not understanding how to use the mobile software properly. In other cases, the device may have just needed to a simple configuration change.

From a business point of view, downtime makes it difficult to guarantee delivery times for products and services. A courier company needs to guarantee how long it will take for a package to arrive at a destination. When a mobile device that is used to track and support parcel delivery goes down, that commitment of delivery time gets violated. The problem gets worse when it is a training issue. It can be difficult to train remote employees how to use software over the phone.

Mobile second: In our modern mobile-first world, many companies are using an enterprise mobility management solution to take care of managing their mission-critical mobile operations. While using an EMM solution is a step in the right direction, most EMM solutions on the market today have minimal remote support and diagnostic tools — or none at all. Your mobile-first operation is now in the hands of a “mobile second” or “mobile none” solution.

The blind leading the blind: So, how do you support your remote mobile users? Most EMM solutions can deploy apps or set security policies, but have little in the way of tools to remotely support, diagnose or train remote users. Helpdesk personal need to resort to a phone call where they are operating blind. They cannot see the screen of the remote mobile device or what the end user is doing, and cannot interact with the device or the software on it. This can become a real challenge when dealing with non-technical unsophisticated mobile users. Worse, the helpdesk user is typically dependent on two or more systems made by different companies to support the end customer: An EMM solution with no diagnostic or troubleshooting tools and a separate helpdesk tool that was built in a PC-first era. It is a real case of the blind leading the blind. The ROI promise of your mobile-first business transformation is now at risk.

The knight in shining armor: So what can you do? Is it all doom and gloom or is there a light at the end of the tunnel? The great news is that a true modern mobile-first EMM solution has a rich set of features that include tools to facilitate remote management, support, troubleshooting and diagnostics of remote mobile devices.

Mobile-first EMM 101: In looking for an EMM solution, there are typical features, such as the ability to push apps, data and security policies to your devices, as well as features to detect compliance of your devices and send out alerts as may be needed.

But you also need to look for features that allow you to remotely troubleshoot, diagnose problems and generally minimize downtime. The following is a list of some the key support tools that you may find useful depending on your business needs:

  • Remote control: A mobile-first EMM solution will include features like real-time remote control built in. With this feature, helpdesk personnel can literally virtualize a remote device and can see the entire remote mobile device as if they had it in their hand. The EMM solution will allow the helpdesk user to see the screen of a remote mobile device and remotely control it. If the device has personal content on it, IT can only see and control corporate apps and data. The level of access to the device IT has can be controlled at a granular level to guarantee the level of privacy required. If the device is corporately owned and performs a business-critical function, IT can be given deep and complete control of the device allowing them to maximize support and uptime of the device.
    For missional-critical operations, IT can remotely observe and guide an employee through using a device. If the end user does not know how to use an app, IT can take control and demonstrate to the remote mobile user how to use the app and provide the necessary training remotely.
  • Diagnostics: A true mobile-first EMM solution will also include remote troubleshooting and diagnostic tools to quickly diagnose and correct problems, thereby minimizing downtime and minimizing the need to ship devices back to HQ. IT can remotely run scripts to correct problems or pull information, and they can retrieve log files or even take pictures or record videos to document problems and send the information to developers to facilitate rapid bug fixing.
  • Helpdesk: Mobile-first EMM solutions include seamlessly integrated helpdesk solutions that are designed from the ground up for the modern mobile world. The seamless, integrated experience decreases the human and monetary costs associated with purchasing two separate solutions from two different vendors and facilitates the delivery of a high level of service to mobile users while minimizing downtime. Why pay more to buy multiple solutions and get less?
    Jumping between ticket creation, app management, remote control and diagnostics should be a seamless and integrated experience with a mobile-first EMM solution.

If you are interested in maximizing the ROI from your mobile investments, these core features are key to ensuring your mobile-first operations are mission critical and IoT optimized. How prepared are you for this new mobile world? I would love to get your thoughts — feel free to contact me or comment below.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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