Mobile Technology is changing the way we do business. The ability to stay connected, work from anywhere, and be more productive on the move is increasing. Mobile technology makes it easier to do business while improving business processes, customer service, and productivity and increasing the likelihood of business growth.
This guide explains how you can use mobile technology – such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets – to benefit your business. It also describes the pros and cons of Mobile Technology and the different types of mobile networking devices.
Last but not least, it discusses the “bring your own device” trend – looking at the benefits and risks of bringing your device and providing best practices on how to use mobile technology to grow your business.
Advantages and disadvantages of mobile technology
Mobile technology is an integral part of the modern workplace. While its versatility offers many benefits, it also poses significant risks for businesses. It is important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of using mobile technology in business.
What is mobile technology?
Mobile technology is exactly what its name suggests – it is a technology that is mobile. Examples of mobile devices include.
- Laptops, tablets, and netbooks
- Global Positioning System (GPS) devices
- Wireless payment terminals for debit/credit cards
Mobile devices use a variety of communication technologies, such as.
- Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) – wireless local area network technology.
- Bluetooth – a form of wireless connectivity for mobile devices.
- Mobile data network services – such as 3G, 4G, and 5G wireless technologies, GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) data services.
- Virtual private networks – secure access to private networks
These technologies allow us to connect mobile devices such as phones and laptops to our offices or the internet when we travel or work in remote locations.
The benefits of mobile technology
The benefits of using mobile technology for business can lead to.
- Increasing employee efficiency and productivity
- Improving the quality and flexibility of the services you provide to your customers.
- The ability to accept payments wirelessly
- Improved ability to communicate in and out of the workplace.
- Better access to modern applications and services
- Better network connectivity
Mobile devices can be connected directly to the office network, even when you’re working outside the office. For example, you can work remotely.
- Create a new client account
- Access to existing customer data
- Check prices and stock availability
- Order online
The rapid growth of cloud computing is increasing the use of mobile devices in businesses, supporting more flexible workflows and online access to services.
Disadvantages of mobile technology
The main disadvantages of using mobile technology for business include.
- Cost – New technology and equipment are often expensive to acquire and require ongoing maintenance and upkeep.
- Workplace disruption – As technology and devices become more common, they can also disrupt business productivity and workflow.
- Additional training needed – workers may need guidance and training in the use of new technologies.
- Increased security needs – mobile devices are vulnerable to security threats, especially if they contain sensitive or business-critical data.
If you use mobile devices for business purposes, you need to ensure the security of these devices and the data they access. Read more about security on business networks and protecting wireless systems.
Mobile phones and smartphones are a familiar part of business life. The ability to make, receive and forward calls and receive voicemail is important for business users.
What are mobile services?
Mobile devices provide not only voice calls but also data services via mobile phones.
- GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) – the first global mobile communications standard that allows mobile devices to exchange digitized and compressed data.
- GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) – an ‘always-on’ data service similar to broadband but with lower data rates, sometimes called 2G.
- Third (3G) and fourth (4G) generation mobile data services, also provide continuous connectivity at speeds similar to broadband.
- The “fifth generation” (5G), which is currently under development, is the next major step in standards.
The role of cell phones in business communication
- Cell phones can provide network connectivity to other devices, such as tablets and laptops, using Bluetooth technology. However, most new laptops and tablets have built-in wireless connectivity, making this method almost useless.
- Smartphones, such as iPhones, Android phones, and Windows Phones, can unite a cell phone and a handheld computer into a single device. They are versatile tools: they handle emails, have calendar functions, and offer data connectivity with a laptop and normal cell phone use.
- With the almost universal availability of mobile networks and well-established billing systems among operators that allow the use of devices outside the operator’s network, these services are useful for keeping in touch on the move.
Disadvantages of using cell phones for business purposes in Mobile technology
- New data services can be expensive, so it is important to choose the right tariff.
- Although data speeds are increasing rapidly, they are not as good as wireless LANs, which use wireless technology.
- Smartphones also have disadvantages: keyboards can be small and therefore difficult to use, and because of their size they are more likely to be lost or damaged.
Mobile networking devices
Mobile computing devices can use almost all wired and wireless network technologies if they are prepared for it with built-in functions or network adapters.
What are the different types of mobile networks?
From a technical point of view, several types of mobile networks are supported, including.
- GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), and third (3G), fourth (4G), and fifth (5G) generation services provided by mobile networks.
- Wired local area network (LAN) connections: Ethernet is the most popular wired LAN technology.
- Secure wireless LANs in public places such as office buildings or Internet cafes: Wi-Fi is the most popular wireless LAN technology.
- Bluetooth or infrared connectivity with another mobile device that has one or more of these connectivity options.
- Remote extranet access, which allows mobile workers to access restricted areas and company website information.
- Use of smartphones to facilitate quick access to e-mail.
Real-time applications on mobile networks.
When you’re on the road, sometimes you don’t need an Internet connection. At the beginning and end of the day, it may be enough to download and upload the information you need from the office computer system.
However, to achieve business benefits such as more efficient use of staff time, better customer service, and a wider range of products and services, real-time connectivity to the office is essential. Examples include.
- Customer presentations and the ability to download product information from the web during their visit.
- Interactive delivery and order processing.
- Inventory control through the office network.
- Communicate with fellow travelers: send and receive emails, collaborate on quotes and submit trip reports on time.
Weaknesses of the mobile network in Mobile technology
Ensuring the security of portable devices and the data they can access can be an issue. For example, these devices can be easily stolen due to their small size. Data can also be intercepted using certain mobile technologies such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. For more information, see the section on wireless security.
Bring your device: advantages and risks
BYOD (Bring your device) is a policy that allows employees to use their laptops, smartphones, tablets, or other personal devices at work. In recent years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become an increasingly popular way for employees to work remotely and access company networks and data from home or while on the go.
BYOD offers many advantages, but at the same time, it is not without risks, especially when it comes to security and data protection.
Benefits of BYOD
In some companies, a successful and well-managed BYOD environment can.
- Provide greater flexibility
- Increase workforce mobility
- Improve efficiency and productivity
- Increase employee satisfaction
- Enable multiple device selection
- Reduce hardware and software licensing costs
- Reduce the amount of equipment the company has to manage
BYOD security and privacy issues
BYOD raises several data protection issues and can lead to information security breaches. For example.
- Personal data can leak from unsecured and unmanaged devices, intentionally or unintentionally.
- Privately owned devices may not have data encryption or may be lost or stolen, increasing the risk of data loss or leakage.
- Privately owned devices may contain malicious software or malware or be vulnerable to online threats.
- As security measures such as password management, virus and malware protection, and security patching are the responsibility of the device owner, they have little control over the security of the device.
- Storing business and personal data on the same device can be a challenge. Attention must also be paid to the security of data once stored on the device.
- Current IT infrastructure and support may need to change to accommodate BYOD, including all devices and applications used by employees.
From a legal perspective, the responsibility for data protection lies with the data controller (i.e. the organization) and not with the device owner. Read the Information Commissioner’s Office guidance on BYOD and data protection to understand your obligations under data protection law, including the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR).
Best practice for BYOD and teleworking
If employees work from home and use their own devices to access company software, they should.
- Consider using multi-factor authentication for remote access
- Ensure device owner data is separate from organization data
- Ensure that employees cannot inadvertently or intentionally transfer the organization’s data to personal storage on the device or to another device that they own
- Being aware that device security may be compromised and having appropriate plans in places, such as updating outdated operating systems and unpatched software.
Remember that when employees use their own devices and software to access company applications and data, the likelihood of system and data breaches increases. For example,
- Outdated software and operating systems, weak passwords, and insecure communication devices such as personal email accounts can be exploited.
- Devices are shared by family members, allowing unauthorized persons to access personal data
- Privately owned devices are less likely to encrypt data, so if the device is lost or stolen, the data can be easily exploited.
- Data can easily be transferred to other unsecured storage devices, such as privately owned USB sticks or external hard drives, which can increase the likelihood of data loss.
Consider these security risks and take measures to avoid potential data breaches.
Establish a Bring Your Device (BYOD) policy
Implementing a BYOD program in an organization requires three key elements
- A network device management program
- A written policy outlining employer and user responsibilities
- A user agreement confirming that the policy has been read and understood
Before developing a policy, a thorough risk assessment should be conducted and responsibilities for accessing, processing, and storing data should be carefully considered.
The Bring Your Device policy should aim to protect the security and integrity of the company’s data and technology infrastructure. It should include the following elements are:
- Acceptable use – what activities are allowed/not allowed for business and personal use.
- Devices – which devices are allowed/not allowed?
- Apps – which apps are allowed/not allowed, including downloading of new apps.
- Ownership and management of apps and data.
- Support and services – how connection issues, application configuration, etc. will be handled.
- Security – e.g. what measures will be taken to prevent unauthorized access to company data and systems and to enable remote control of equipment
- Liability – e.g. for hardware-related costs, loss of data or equipment
- Suspension of access – e.g. if the policy is not followed or if an employee leaves the company.
In addition to the policy, you should at least provide clear guidelines for employees.
- How to keep software up to date and devices protected
- How to use strong passwords
- How to minimize the storage of personal data on devices.
Employees must understand when and how to report a potential data breach on a device that belongs to them.
Use of laptops and tablets in enterprises
Tablets are devices that can run lightweight versions of standard office software packages and similar applications that automate tasks and enable access and sharing of information. Due to their small size, they may not be suitable for long-term use but are ideal for remote access to email, schedules, and documents.
Laptops, e-books, and some tablets offer the full functionality of a desktop computer and can be used with all office applications. Many modern laptops and tablets can connect to the Internet and corporate networks using wireless technology.
Reasons for using laptops in business
Mobile devices such as laptops and tablets can be used for many different purposes. The most important features are instant access to information and a more flexible approach to business. Many mobile devices use the same software as office computers, often allowing people to perform the same tasks they do on the go at the office.
- Sales staff can use laptops and mobile devices to make presentations, check inventory availability, create quotes, and place orders online while staying in touch with customers.
- Laptops are ideal for flexible work such as hot desking, telecommuting, and commuting.
- Laptops and tablets allow you to stay in touch via email while traveling.
Disadvantages of laptops and tablets compared to desktops
- Tablet keyboards are small and can be difficult to use. Choosing a computer with a stylus avoids this problem and is faster than typing on a keyboard or using a touchscreen.
- Laptops, e-books, and tablets have security issues, such as the risk of theft or loss. When using mobile devices, employees should be made aware of the need to protect the device and company data.
- When using public wireless networks (Wi-Fi) to access the Internet, it is not always possible to find a network that is secure for mobile devices. This can prevent them from accessing company information when they need it.
As with any technology, training may be necessary to maximize its effectiveness. Find out what else you can do to protect your online business.
Streamline your business with mobile technology
There are many things to consider when using mobile technology in your business. Here are some best practices.
- Analyze your business to see what difference mobile devices and technology can make.
- Explore ways to add flexibility to your work practices.
- For example, the “pay as you go” model on cell phones allows merchants to start selling payment cards.
- Train employees on how to use these devices and understand security issues.
- Develop an “acceptable use policy” for employees to ensure they understand all restrictions, including personal use and use of mobile devices while driving. See an example of our phone use policy.
- Include mobile devices in all inspections and software updates.
- Assign identification numbers to mobile devices to track who is using them.
- Make sure your data is safe, even if your mobile devices are stolen.
- Regularly back up important company data, including mobile data.
- When connecting to the network from a remote location, use secure technologies such as a virtual private network (VPN). See Securing wireless systems.
- Control access to mobile devices and corporate networks with passwords.
- Make sure mobile devices and data are covered by insurance.
- Considerations for workplace computer health and security.
- Stay up to date – mobile technology is evolving rapidly, and new opportunities for its use in your business may arise at any time. Learn about seven technology updates that are important to your business.
- Allow mobile devices free access to all sensitive company data unless strong security measures (VPN, authentication, encryption) are in place.
- Keep mobile devices where they are visible and easy to take out of the office.
- Share password information or leave it in a place where unauthorized users can find it.
If you are concerned about the security of your mobile device or technology, learn how you can protect your business online.