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Information governance: empowering your mobile workforce

By Joe Hewitson / May 21, 2013



Today’s workforce is equipped with marvelously advanced mobile technology that enables them to be more productive without sacrificing flexibility. However, any great technological advancement comes with inherent undesired side effects, and this recent mobile movement is no exception. For this reason, it’s imperative that we develop well-structured information governance policies that serve to protect enterprise assets while still allowing the flexibility that makes mobile strategies so effective.

The importance of mobile governance

How does one go about conjuring this perfect policy that both protects and enables? Well, truth be told, you’re going to have to make some compromises when developing an information governance plan for your needs. For example, the biggest concern for many enterprises comes with figuring out how to prevent users from putting unnecessary data on their mobile devices. The fear lies in potentially catastrophic security issues, should the device fall into the wrong hands.

If you place too many restrictions on mobile data, you risk stenting productivity. On the other hand, if your mobile data rules are too relaxed, you risk severe security issues. It’s important to avoid getting carried away with these compromises and straying too far from the core purpose of information governance. After all, an information governance policy should provide a focused strategy, implementable standards and effective tools to enable your teams to unlock the technology’s full potential. Enterprises across the board are in need of this standards-based governance to provide a focus to the chaos that often permeates mobile infrastructure.

Fortunately, there are some methods to empower your mobile deployments and govern mobile information at the same time. The first way you might go about employing an information governance policy is to provide adequate training on mobile devices. While adding more training for your workforce will likely warrant a few eye rolls, the simple fact is that arming your staff with actionable knowledge on expected mobile device use is the first — and often times best — defense against future issues.

Solid training gives your team the tools to use their mobile devices (and the data stored within) effectively, but by taking away the ability to step outside the rules of your governance plan, “accidental” misuses can be all but eliminated. When using mobile technology’s best friend — the cloud — sensitive data is immediately acccessible yet kept from the wandering storage of mobile devices. This act of working with data from mobile devices using virtualization and cloud services provides a digital barrier that naturally enforces your information governance policy.

Present state of governance strategies

This begs a question: what are you doing to govern your mobile workforce? That can be a hard question to answer, and as a recent Gartner report shows, you’re not alone if you struggle to come up with a plan that’s actionable and effective. One of the biggest issues plaguing current enterprise mobile deployments is an isolationist perspective.

The desire to deploy mobile solutions that are specific to each area of the business often leads to a fragmented mobile environment that’s difficult to effectively govern. Compartmentalizing also conflicts with the very mobile nature of technology that allows it to be used in a variety of roles and environments simultaneously. However, utilizing the methods above, a broad, overarching information governance strategy can be effectively implemented.

Now’s the time to take action

Information governance will continue to grow in importance as mobile infrastructure takes center stage in the business world. After all, a recent survey of small- and medium-size businesses shows that 78% of mobile devices are used to access work-related information. With that said, you should begin putting careful thought into a mobile policy that’s strong enough to enforce protection of the critical flow of business, yet flexible enough to enable the power of mobility across all business arenas.

By focusing on all areas of your organization that are part of a mobile device strategy, and understanding the dynamic relationships weaving them together, you’ll no doubt begin to see how to craft the right information governance plan that suits your needs.