Business Uses for Mobile Devices
At this quarter’s CFO/Controller Roundtable, we discussed various ways to use mobile devices for business purposes. Conversations covered innovative ways to manage your business, laptops vs. tablets, bring your own device (BYOD), and applications that make your job easier.
Accepting credit/debit card payments
New devices, such as Square, provide a way for companies to accept credit and debit card payments with the use of a smartphone. The device is plugged into the phone, and the app makes the connection with the card processors.
Trips to the bank to deposit checks are no longer necessary. Most major banks now have an app where users can simply log in, take pictures of the front and back of the checks, and make deposits without ever leaving the office.
QR codes, or Quick Response Codes, are those graphics that look like a bunch of squares stuck together. When scanned with a smartphone, the app converts the graphic into information, such as a URL, phone number, vCards, text, or SMS (text message). Companies are using these codes to provide information about museum art pieces, self-guided tours, and maintain inventory. Consumers can use the codes to price shop and receive product information and reviews.
Laptops vs. tablets
The general consensus was laptops work best in the office, but when in the field, tablets boot faster and provide better connectivity. Rather than have an additional wireless contract for the tablet, many of the attendees are using smartphones as a hotspot for internet connectivity.
Individuals managing buildings are now monitoring lights, plumbing, web cams, and security cameras via apps on mobile devices.
Tracking employees via GPS
With GPS enabled on mobile devices, employers are able to see where employees are located at any given time. When asked if this was seen as an invasion of privacy, the consensus seemed to be that three years ago, the answer was probably yes. However, today it’s considered commonplace. And for some individuals, it’s seen as a security precaution.
Locating a lost device
Apple, Android, and Windows phones all have apps that allow the user to locate a lost device (Find My iPhone, LookOut, and Find my Phone, respectively). Users can make the device “scream,” beep, or display a message. The device can also be locked, or even wiped, remotely. If GPS is enabled, the user can see where the device is located on a map and receive driving directions to that location. Service providers, such as Verizon, also have the ability to track, deactivate, and remotely wipe devices.
Managing multiple devices
Managing multiple devices can be a daunting task. AirWatch and MobileIron are online apps that allow companies to configure and update devices over-the-air. The apps allow management to enforce policies, secure access to corporate information, and remotely lock and wipe devices.
Not While Driving
Some companies have implemented a “no texting/no emailing while driving” policy to protect the employee and the company.
Most people voiced frustration with the number of passwords that need to be remembered for files, applications, systems, websites, etc. One thing to remember is – the information is only as secure as the password created. There are a variety of password apps available to help you remember multiple passwords, but attendees cautioned that the passwords to get into the device and app can be compromised, providing access to all of the user’s passwords, and if the master password for the app is forgotten, everything saved in the app is lost.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
BYOD is the policy of allowing company employees to use their personal smartphones, tablets, and computers to access company information. This decision brings many security issues to the forefront of business. Some of the issues discussed included:
- Play by the corporate rules, or the privilege is taken away
- Additional security/encryption is needed on each device
- Each device must have a timeout to lock the screen
- Look into implementing RSA cards for added security
- Reimbursement aspects to consider when allowing the use of personal devices may depend upon the individual’s level in the company, such as:
- Which related expenses will be reimbursed
- Internet service in the home
- Phone allowances
While there are thousands of applications available on a variety of platforms, there are favorites. Here are applications attendees
Getting the personal information for an individual from the business card to your contact list has never been easier. Apps, such as ScanBizCards, allow the user to take a picture of the card, and the information is automatically deposited into the contact list.
Expensify provides a way for users to organize their expense reports. Simply scan the receipts and the app will organize and attach them in an email as support with the main report. It’s also a great way to manage your mileage.
Accessing Your Computer Remotely
Email (and attachment) security
A concern was voiced related to confidential email residing on mobile devices. Ziptr is an app that allows users to send and receive encrypted email (including the attachments) on their smartphone, tablet, or web browser application.
Syncing Files Amongst Many Devices
Sharing information amongst many people and/or devices can be confusing, but necessary. Microsoft’s SkyDrive, Google Drive, and Dropbox are three apps that allow the same file to be stored on many devices – and when the file is changed, it is updated to each device automatically. All three apps work on smartphones, tablets, and computers.
Using Tablet as External Monitor
Air Display allows users to use their tablet or smartphone as a second monitor. Users can use the touch screen to draw directly on the screen and orient the display in either landscape or portrait.
Keynote is Apple’s version of Microsoft’s PowerPoint. This app will allow the user to create or import (via Apple’s iCloud) presentations, created in Keynote or PowerPoint, and view presentations on mobile devices. With the use of cable, adapters, and/or AppleTV, the presentation can be broadcast to a TV/monitor/projector for viewing.
Dataman monitors the WiFi and cellular data usage on the mobile device. The user can input the amount of data purchased each month and the date it will renew, and set alerts when they have 50%, 75%, etc. of cellular data remaining, so they always know how much data is left. It can also help the user determine if they are purchasing too much data. Dataman Pro, the upgraded version, will divvy up the usage by application. (This information can be helpful information if cellular data numbers start going awry.)
Killing an Application
On the iPhone or iPad, users can double-tap the home button to view all open applications. Pressing and holding the icon will cause the icon to jiggle, and the option to close the application will appear. For Android devices, Advanced Task Killer (advanced-task-killer.en.softonic.com/android) allows users to kill open apps. In both cases, users are not able to view all running processes.
Mobile devices continue to change, and applications are created every day. Whether you’re using a tablet or PC, or running on an Apple, Android, or Windows platform, chances are there’s an app for whatever it is you’re trying to do.