Android for Business: How to Make it Work For You

Interest around connectivity in the work place has increased in recent years. With tools like social media now in play in the business world, employees demanding use of their personal devices for work and websites catering to mobile browsers; email connectivity is no longer enough to satisfy the mobile worker.

One of the mobile operating systems eyed by businesses of all sizes has been Google’s Android offering.  Android’s humble beginnings started back in 2005 shortly before being purchased by Google.  Its 7 year rise to current success has not been without its challenges. Plagued by fragmentation (multiple Android devices running different versions of the mobile operating system), questions of security, given it’s an “open source” operating system (making the OS a frequent target for malware or viruses), and the complexity of operating or simply setting up an Android device has proved difficult to overcome.  Yet the interest put forward from small businesses to enterprise size organizations alike is still at an all-time high.

Propelling the Android trend: BYOD

The answer stems from a growing trend in the business world; the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) movement.  BYOD has grown in recent years and originally started back when executives pressured their organizations IT shops to bend the company’s own rules to allow for additional mobile offerings to be utilized for day to day business activities.  During that period, few tools were available to IT administrators to allow companywide adoption or even additional connectivity to internal resources.  The BYOD trend has grown and with the increase in mobile adoption, so has the development of tools providing manageability and security on the mobile platform, enabling employees the choice of which device they’d prefer to use.

An Android by any other name…

Not all OS’s are created equal and this is especially true for Android.  Different Android devices run different versions of Android OS, however there are ways in which IT administrators can ensure proper manageability and security:

  • Set policies:IT administrators can create policies to allow for certain levels of company resource access to certain versions of Android.  As an example, an Android device running 2.2 (Froyo) might only be provided corporate email access as opposed to an Android device running 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) which allows for increased manageability capabilities thus securely allowing additional access to corporate data in addition to email.
  • Evaluate the device security offerings: Some Android device manufacturers like Samsung provide additional security and manageability capabilities above and beyond the native Android offering.  This capability comes via partnerships established with existing business software offerings from the likes of Microsoft and other sizable organizations to ensure full accessibility of company resources without relinquishing security.
  • Enable Mobile Device Management: Utilization of mobile device management (MDM) software suite provides increased manageability of Android devices utilized within one’s organization.   Using MDM software IT administrators can control the types of applications used on an Android device, the type of company data access a device can connect to and the ability to remove company data without affecting personal content on the end users device should a mobile worker abruptly leave the organization.

Like all operating systems, allowing Android to flourish within your business can provide your mobile workers access to the information they need.  Businesses need to take a structured approach when deploying or accepting Android devices by identifying device management and security capabilities of the Android devices procured. Be sure to do your homework on which Android devices are business ready by identifying device management and security capabilities and take a structured approach when deploying or accepting Android devices.

This article has also been posted on TELUS Talks Business

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