Topic overview

Mobile phones

Mobile phones

Mobile phones are now essential for staff on virtually every branch of the company tree and the meteoric rise of the smartphone has, arguably, turned such devices into laptop replacements for many.

Put simply, there is little excuse for any worker to be out of reach or unable to work if they have a smartphone nestled in their pocket.

The evolution of the business mobile phone

Modern smartphones put a raft of tools at your staff's fingertips. At their heart, they're mobile phones, but they're also email clients, social media communicators, web browsers, content creation devices and platforms on which content can be consumed.

Advances in VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology also means that smartphones can be turned into remote extensions if you have people working from home.

When Apple introduced the App Store in 2008, they opened a new, exciting door for software developers. As a result, virtually any business task can now be carried out on a smartphone and most business software providers have created companion mobile apps for their systems.

Unfortunately, with advances in mobile technology comes overwhelming choice, and the options available to businesses when it comes to choosing a smartphone are simply mind-boggling.

Choosing the right smartphone and tariff

When purchasing smartphones for your company, you need to be absolutely clear about what you want to do with them. You will need to establish how many mobile phones you need, how and when they will be used and whether they will need to work with your existing systems. For instance, do you want to use them with your CRM platform?

The answer to these questions will help you narrow down which mobile phone handsets you want. It's usually best to standardise on a single model across your business. Even basic handsets can be used for quite advanced tasks, like sending email, browsing the internet, instant messaging and drafting documents. However, the bigger screens and extra features offered by some models make them better suited to business use.

The type of smartphone you choose is likely to affect which mobile phone provider and network you choose. There are a number of different mobile phone networks, all offering different tariffs. Consider how much data, minutes and texts you will need. Will your phones be used overseas? Check the mobile coverage in the areas you do business - some rural areas still have patchy or non-existent coverage. Evaluate mobile phone tariffs carefully - deals that look attractive may have steep hidden charges.

Managing business smartphone users

You'll need a clear smartphone policy for staff which describes how you expect them to use and maintain the business's mobile devices. Areas to cover include whether or not personal calls are allowed, confirmation that phones must be used 'hands-free' when driving and the times smartphones must be turned on and accessible.

You also need to stress the importance of data security. Mobile devices can contain a wealth of data which is often of greater value to your business than the phone itself. They may hold client contact details and commercially sensitive emails. As a minimum, you should encrypt the data on your mobile phones and you should consider mobile security software in case your phones are lost or stolen.

Lastly, it is advisable to monitor how your business uses its smartphones. Regularly review the performance of your chosen tariffs. Are all the inclusive minutes being used? Are staff exceeding data allowances? If you've opted for a flexible tariff, your provider should let you adjust it based on usage.