Benjamin Robbins: 5 Mobile Behavior Habits You Need to Break


Benjamin RobbinsScary but true: A new global survey from Apigee reports that 85% of smartphone users would rather “go without drinking water” than give up their mobile apps. (No word, though, on how long they were willing to commit.) With such fierce attachment to the smartphone and mobile behavior becoming a constant presence in the workplace, it’s worth noting that a lot of that behavior can get users into trouble — whether they realize it or not.

Benjamin Robbins, co-founder of Palador, a Seattle-based enterprise mobility consulting firm, believes most of the bad behavior is unintentional, but needs to be managed nonetheless. “Most bad behavior really comes down to laziness,” he says. “The challenge is that it does potentially harm the organization.”

Robbins would know. He just completed a full year using just one device, a Samsung Galaxy Note. So he understands the tendency to work as efficiently as possible from one’s mobile device. “People usually aren’t out to do anything vindictive or malicious to company property,” he said. “Mostly, they’re just trying to get things done.”

With the aim of preserving what’s good about a mobile-heavy company culture, Robbins highlighted five bad mobile behaviors that commonly occur in the enterprise, along with some suggestions on how to avoid each.

1. Waiting to Report a Lost Device

We’ve all been there — the phone left in a cab, at a restaurant, somehow dropped on the street, and so on. It’s an undeniably terrible feeling. But unless your phone was stolen, you’ll likely hold out some hope that your phone will be found by a good samaritan and returned.

“You have pictures of your kids, and so on, on your phone. But many company policies state that they’ll wipe lost devices immediately. So, because you’re hoping you’ll find it, employees may wait to report the lost phone because of the personal stuff they have on their phone.”

Big mistake, says Robbins. With a work-related phone, this means potentially sensitive or confidential information is out in the open, and is relatively easily accessible. Clearly, that’s not ideal.

Solution: Instead of wiping the device immediately, change your policy to allow for a two-week lockdown on the phone. And, equally importantly, make sure you clearly communicate this to all of your employees. “This kind of policy is a good way to build trust.”

2. Downloading Apps from Unknown Sources

Beyond high data costs, the repercussions for these rogue downloads (sources that aren’t, say, the Apple store, or Google Play) can be very serious. “If people can’t get an app, they’ll go wherever they can get it. This opens their device, and your network, up to the possibility of malware.” While this specific issue is a bigger problem overseas than in the U.S., Robbins notes that Android users are prone to look for apps elsewhere.

Solution: Robbins recommends automatically providing employees with virus scanning software to catch any incidents of malware as soon as possible. “And, it helps to make the apps employees want to use readily available.”

3. Sharing Unsecured Company Data

For BYOD employees, the temptation to send yourself, or someone else, information over an unsecured network can be dangerously strong. “You want to get a document the quick and easy way, so you send it to yourself. But, then you’ve exposed company data that’s maybe not secured.”

Solution: Make sure each BYOD device allows for encryption at the hardware. And, require a password so any data is secured.

4. TMI

Robbins recently took a hacker class in order to build awareness around hackers’ methods. “It was eye-opening,” he said. “It’s really easy to get information out of people. And the easiest way to get onto someone’s computer, or mobile device, is through ‘social engineering,’ calling them up and asking for their birthday, their PIN, their address, under the guise of getting something important done.”

Solution: Raise awareness among your employees. Robbins emphasized the difference it can make to have open conversation with your employees, and to illustrate how important it is that they don’t hand information out carelessly.

5. Bad Phone Etiquette

Robbins is a believer in allowing employees to engage in “personal” tasks on their phone — taking a break, checking email, or making a non-work-related call. “But their needs to be a mutual respect,” he says. “As an employee, you can contact me anytime because my work email is on my phone. But I, in turn, can’t abuse that.” Quite simply: “If you’re doing something your mom wouldn’t be proud of, and/or are responsible for over-the-top data usage, that’s just unacceptable.”

This can be anything from a simple oversight, like leaving data roaming on when traveling internationally, to full-on idiocy that really has no good excuse.

Solution: “Companies can help a lot by raising awareness,” Robbins said. He encourages open conversations and instilling a sense of trust that goes both ways, versus “draconian notions of what you can and can’t do.”

“It’s all about the spirit of mobility. This way, you’ll get higher employee satisfaction, and find that you get a bigger return on your mobile program overall.”