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How digital mobility can boost your organisation


06 March 2017

Paul Crichard

Blogs by author: Paul Crichard, Security CTO, BT.


Security’s often regarded as an obstacle rather than an enabler. Paul Crichard explains why it should always be first when it comes to new technology.

Taking the mystique out of tech.

Technology can sometimes be magic and mystery. The Internet of Things, cloud technology, Big Data. These can be sources of general wonderment and confusion. How can we make best use of something? What are the challenges and how can we overcome them?

For me, often the cause has been the lack of enablement in technology around a business. Yet it’s human nature to find a way to get around obstacles. If we can enable technology, but securely, perhaps we can really make the next generation of technology sing.

I call this concept of secure enablement ‘digital mobility’. It’s using technology to protect and enable people to complete their tasks, but in a much more natural and flexible way.

The possibilities are vast.

Let’s look at a few examples of what this could mean. Openreach engineers have embraced mobility — but imagine a van that is continually talking to the exchange about the safety of the driver and the environment that they are in. Then put a 3D printer in the van, allowing engineers to instantly make parts that might be unique to each job — limiting cost but maximising the effect to customer.

Another example. Let’s pick a CEO. I know many are fans of Apple (who isn’t really!?) but let’s think what other options we have as a business to help the individual.

GPS is a first step to let his or her PA actually make sure they’re in the right place, but it can prove troublesome within buildings. So, using location tracking on a mobile phone inside a building can save effort — you could even plan their route to get to the correct meeting rooms, like a personal sat nav.

Then add in the security features of their biometric footprint (for example a Fitbit) with their access pass and add the information of their mobile and you begin to question the requirement for a password on their PC. You have a form of two factor authentication built in and it would even work when you got a coffee from the other side of the room!

This then can expand into room access and vehicle utilisation — we have examples of that technology in the showcase today.

Secure, cost-effective change.

I bet that if you think about your daily life there are actions that you naturally do today that could be made just a little easier and quicker with technology. The hardest part is to wrap that in a layer of security and privacy.

Ok that’s the geeky dream, but we are restricted by some fundamental obstacles. Cost, security (read risk) and change.

Cost is always going to be tough because the financial benefits are rarely seen directly. Let’s say we rolled out Fitbits to all staff — well that’s £1m CAPEX before we even start. But how much time do we lose because individuals miss appointments? That starts with the ten mins late from the previous meeting and ends with the physical meetings where you can’t find the room. What about incentives to get people walking not just that five minute break every hour but the potential of 1-to-1s on the move? Talking about breaking the norms. Is that incentive worth the CAPEX spend?

We need to challenge each of our processes to see if it can be done in an easier and more integrated way — expenses, car booking, timesheets… the list can be endless. If technology reduces some of those overheads surely that makes us faster, cheaper and better?

Security is often implemented as an obstacle instead of an enabler, usually because it’s done last. Add it in first to protect and support the individual and business, and you’ll be surprised what smart people can achieve. The key is the will to accept and the want to find a solution that is simple and symbiotic to the real goal — to be better.

That leaves the last obstacle. Change. Who isn’t scared and worried about change? It’s big and nasty and only brings bad things, doesn’t it? I think you mean uncontrolled and poorly run change, often caused by the wrong people being involved in it. The organisations that fully embrace the art of the possible are the ones who can not only lead their market but revolutionise it — BT Sport showed us a form of that. The ability to accept and inspire this kind of spirit is one that is prepared to have some right lemons of ideas but, as we all know, that only brings learning and understanding.

A security-first approach.

Now for the reality. Many people aren’t in the position to challenge what’s viewed as set-in-stone, but I believe there’s always a way. Keep asking until you find the person who will listen, because I do believe there will be someone.

The hardest part of the business is to keep making sure that that door is at least ajar, and the challenge to the individual is to keep getting up each time they get knocked back. To find out more about how BT can help you to achieve change, while putting security first, take a look at our security solutions.