Tuesday, December 3, 2013

BYOD and Smartphone Contact Management Chaos



Three reasons to fix smartphone contact management in your enterprise
by Vern Weitzman, Ives Brant
What happens when your company cuts staff? Specifically, do the dearly departed employees get to take the corporate directory with them? What about all of the customers, partners and clients in their smartphone address book?
There is no doubt that BYOD has a big future for smartphones in the enterprise. But here are three pressing reasons to think carefully about how those mobile devices are managed.
Reason 1. The Walking Dead May Not Leave Empty-Handed
Many of us have known that feeling. You get the bad news in a weirdly cheerful yet humiliating meeting, while Security puts your stuff in a box and scrubs your DNA right out of company history. George Clooney is not there. You stagger out into the parking lot, moving like the Walking Dead - come to think of it, you are in just the mood to bite any passerby. At that moment, affection and loyalty to the company that just booted you do not govern your thoughts.

In your pocket, next to your rapidly beating heart, is your smart phone. They may have disabled your email account but your phone still contains both your personal contacts, and also co-worker contacts from across the entire enterprise. If you were customer-facing, how many key customers, clients and business partner contacts do you have as you embark on your bright new beginning?
The need to take back what belongs to the company
Let’s put you on the opposite side. You’re the VP of HR. Some employees had to be let go. Most will be professional and you would never expect to see them use contact info which is company property to the detriment of your business. What about the disgruntled ones?
You can't just wipe their personal phone. If there was ever a way to make an unpleasant situation into a barn burner, this would be the flash point.
It makes you stop and think. So, the solution is really to take back all the contact info pertaining to employees, partners and customers. If the new Walking Dead received that as part of their employment, it belongs to the company. Of course employees can make backups -- but you need to take basic precautions.
Do you just wipe out their entire address book? That would be extremely intrusive and it would be rather lousy timing. What about their legitimate contacts? You would be in the wrong to impact those.
Surgical removal is one answer: intelligently pull just YOUR company property out of their smartphone address book. Needless to say, that requires some advance planning and automation on all employee contacts. Thousands of mailboxes. Possibly millions of contacts.  
Reason #2. Those who stay on
What about all of the other employees that are continuing to work for the company? They now have gobs of contacts for terminated employees. That’s clutter. It’s unwelcome nostalgia for the un-here. It's also embarrassing when a current staff member calls a terminated employee, not knowing they are now outside the firewall.
Here again, the slam-dunk obvious solution is to use automation to remove the contact details of the un-here from the smart phone directories of the still-here.
Reason #3. New Employees: they have nothing and nobody knows them.
Let's jump to the other end of the employee's tenure, and talk about Day 1 rookies? They have no contacts on the day they start. Over several months, they will gradually gather the contacts most frequently needed and enter them with varying degrees of accuracy into their smartphone directory. Wouldn’t it make sense for each newbie to immediately have a “full house” in their smartphone upon starting?
Compounding the new-employee contact problem: nobody knows them. The CEO wants to reach the new Head of Legal because the sky is falling, but nobody has her phone number. She just started yesterday. Why can't she be found?
The Takeaway
What’s the takeaway on three reasons to take a close at a comprehensive, cradle-to-grave solution to employee contacts?
  • With employee ownership of mobile devices, when an employees leaves an organization, their smart phone usually holds tons of contacts in their address book that create risk for the company. These contacts must not go with them from job to job. Forever.
  • Existing employees have dozens, possibly hundreds of contacts for terminated employees. It isn't cost effective to have them manually clean their address book.
  • New employees have nothing. They start with a blank slate and need dozens or hundreds of contacts. Also, nobody knows how to reach the the new employees.

A lack of Unified Contact Management isn't an acute problem for IT, but it's a nagging issue that creates risk where none should exist. 

Given the low cost of unified contact management and the time/cost savings in productivity, it is one of the highest ROI projects that IT can undertake. But that’s another story and another blog for the future. Unified contact management solves the three problems detailed above, with clever automated handling of smart phone contacts.

Unified contact management software that automatically syncs smartphones with employee contact data achieves the following:
  • Zombie problems resolved - terminated employees will not carry away your company contact data.
  • Current staff won't accidentally call former employees with company questions.
  • New employees will be reachable and in turn will be able to reach their new colleagues.

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