As more small and medium-sized businesses experiment with tablets, solution providers are turning to mobile data management services to help customers.
The NPD Group Inc. predicted in its SMB Technology Monitor that 73% of SMBs would buy tablets during 2012. But it doesn’t really matter if a company has formally adopted tablets or if employees have brought them in on the sly, solution providers say.
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"SMBs are adopting these systems, but they aren't adapting particular standards," said Darrel Bowman, CEO of mynetworkcompany.com, a managed service provider in Tacoma, Wash.
What matters is whether or not the company has a policy in place for thorough access control and mobile data management, because most businesses have a mix of corporate- and employee-owned mobile devices, said Steven Reese, a vice president with Presidio, a national solution provider based in Greenbelt, Md.
"People don't want a work-life balance,” he said. “They want a work-life integration."
That means both employees and employers will seek ways to keep personal and professional data segregated.
"It's a privacy thing," Reese said. "The management challenge is more about the information than it is about the device itself."
Approaches to mobile data management
Policies that keep data stored and secured in the data center instead of on individual devices should raise comfort levels for both companies and their employees, Reese said. Not only will those policies address privacy concerns, but they will make sure that the view of a particular piece of information is always the latest version regardless of whether the device is being used to view it or interact with it.
Similarly, mycompanynetwork.com has developed a virtual desktop service for mobile data management on tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices for its clients, Bowman said.
Using a hosted desktop, people will have access to the same applications and information regardless of whether they are using a tablet, notebook or a desktop computer, he said.
"Microsoft rules on the server," Bowman said. "All the applications for line-of-business are written in this environment. In order to integrate these mobile devices, you have to support that environment."
About the expert
Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist in the New York City area with more than 20 years’ experience. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. Clancy was previously editor at Computer Reseller News, a B2B trade publication covering news and trends about the high-tech channel.
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This was first published in April 2012