It should be obvious to all firms at the current time that mobility is an important part of any IT department. With 5G now available in the UK and advances such as artificial intelligence and augmented/virtual reality transforming what smartphones can do for a business, those companies that have placed a high priority on developing a mobile strategy enjoy greater productivity and, ultimately, improved bottom lines.

But even if firms have looked to embrace mobile devices within their organisation, there’s a big difference between having mobile devices and having a mobile device strategy.

Even if you’re equipping your workforce with the latest mobile tools and applications to make their jobs easier, if you don’t have the right support backing it up, you can end up losing control of your mobile environment, which leads to poor productivity, frustrated employees and higher costs.

You may think you’ve got the right solution in place to give your workers the mobility they need, but in reality, you may not even realise if your mobile strategy isn’t up to scratch – until it’s too late and you run into problems.

So what should you be asking to ensure you’re not going down the wrong path when it comes to managing your work mobile devices?

It’s not all about devices

The first thing to bear in mind when it comes to developing a strategy is that introducing work mobile devices is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s essential that businesses have suitable tools to help monitor and manage the devices they have on their network. But there are a wide range of such solutions available, some of which are far more limited than other in how much control they offer to administrators.

For instance, a good mobile device management (MDM) system must ensure visibility into every touchpoint that is accessing a firm’s network. This means identifying what devices are, what platforms and firmware they have, who they are assigned to, and where they expect to connect from. If, for example, a remote sales agent will be checking in using public Wi-Fi hotspots, this requires a different level of security management than a device that will remain within the firm’s own wireless network perimeter at all times.

Another factor to consider here is how easy it will be to scale up the mobile environment to bring in new departments, locations or areas of operation. If a company wants to bring in a  second line of business, for example, will it be able to easily add more devices and integrate these with existing MDM tools? If firms have to rebuild infrastructure and support systems from scratch, and there is no centralised supporting tools already in place, it will be significantly more expensive and time-consuming to add these capabilities.

Could you cope with the unexpected?

Another potential cost that any business needs to consider when adopting mobile devices is repairs and replacements for damaged devices. There’s no getting around this, as even the most careful employees can have a momentary slip that can break a device. Indeed, research from Mintel shows a quarter of smartphone owners in the UK have broken their device’s screen.

The costs of fixing these issues is also on the rise. As phones get bigger and incorporate technology such as fingerprint scanners and glass backs for wireless charging, they will become ever-more expensive to fix.

Firms that think this is not an issue as it will be covered by your manufacturer’s warranty may be in for a nasty shock. Often, these protections will not cover many of the problems with damage that can occur in an enterprise environment – especially if consumer-grade devices are being used in high-risk areas, such as warehouses and factory floors, where they may be more prone to damage.

This can leave business facing unexpected bills for repairs – not to mention any disruption to operations that may be caused if it takes time to issue an appropriate replacement device. That’s why any effective mobile strategy needs to have clear plans in place for how to manage repairs, ensuring that costs are kept to a minimum and there is a clear plan in place for how long repairs should take, which devices are prioritised, and what users do in the meantime.

Putting in place the right tools ensures you’ll always have contingencies for the unexpected, plus it helps you take better control of your replenishment plans when the time comes to upgrade, giving you the support you need for a truly effective mobile strategy.