Companies today have become reliant on mobile devices to conduct business. Depending on the need and role of the employee workforces can be equipped with smartphones, tablets, laptops, scanners, and other mobile equipment. They have become integral to the daily operations of businesses, and this is as true for the warehousing industry as it is for any other enterprise.
Yet with the proliferation of mobile devices have come challenges when it comes to data security either through hacking, loss, theft, and how employees use their company issued devices. Managing these devices should thus be a priority for businesses. In this article we'll address some of the risks as they pertain to the warehouse environment as well as how these devices can be managed.
Warehouse operations are becoming more mobile as technologies like WMS and TMS (amongst others) are employed to better manage inventory and fulfillment. As this technology is implemented warehouses have the opportunity to bring mobile scanners, tablets, and wearable devices into the warehouse which allow staff to work efficiently, independently, reduce errors, and improve communication. Mobile devices also facilitate the sharing and update of inventory data in real-time so that the entire business has up to date inventory information.
Warehouses are a trove and significant generator of data. Warehouses interact, tract, and produce data related to inventory management, orders, communications, customer data, client projects, schedules, financials, billing, stock levels, product types, and so on. As we can see warehouses can generate and interact with information that to one degree or another is quite sensitive and needs to be kept reliably safe.
On top of this given that warehouses and businesses in general rely on mobile devices to support day to day operations having them fail, be misused, or compromised is something that needs to be avoided.
Businesses all hope that employees are using and treating devices professionally, but that’s not always the case. It’s wise then for businesses to contemplate how their mobile devices are used, to have a plan for proper mobile device management (MDM), and to inform and communicate these policies to staff.
The first thing that businesses, including warehouses and logistics providers, can look into is finding a proper MDM solution to manage and protect all company devices. MDM software will help to organization and protect data as well as management and restrict how the devices are used. Employees can thus receive devices from their companies that are role based managed, allowing, or restricting usage based on set criteria. This can also include employing GPS tracking, setting up a secure VPN, and password protecting applications and devices.
As well MDM gives full control to the business to determine which applications and software each device needs and gives them full control, even remotely. The business can thus track, monitor, update and download software, and troubleshoot issues. On the hand in the case of theft, loss, or maleficence the business can lock the device, locate it, and wipe data thus protecting their greater IT and data infrastructure.
A real-world example for warehouse operations would be mobile scanners. Today’s scanning devices have the same features, functionality, and connectivity as smart phones do and are essentially handheld computers. Just like other handheld devices and laptops mobile scanners can be just as susceptible to the same security risks and can open businesses up to potential threats. From a mobile scanner perspective, it is good to consider questions like:
Does the user NEED to download apps to the device?
Will this device only be used on premise, or does it need to be used offsite as well?
Is access to the device and to applications passcode protected?
Is the network the devices connects to secure?
Do the devices have a degree of web browsing limitation?
It’s important then that warehouses treat their mobile scanners the same way that they do their other devices they deploy to their staff. Often mobile scanners are intended for the warehouse only, so a good practice would be to ensure that GPS mobile tracking is on the device and that they are automatically locked if they leave the premise. And since mobile scanners are intended for a specific set of tasks MDM can help restrict the device within these boundaries.
MDM though should also be part of a broader company approach rather than just IT centric. Policies should be well documented and communicated to all parts of your business. When new hires come on board explain to them the policies in place when assigning them a device. Explain to them why these policies are in place, what protocols should be followed if they think their device is compromised, and how they as employees can be part of ensuring that company data and assets are kept safe. In so doing employees will feel like they are part of the solution rather than feel like they’re being watched, untrusted, or restricted.
Protecting and managing company devices is important and every business that relies on them should endeavour to manage them accordingly, including mobile scanners. This means documenting the roles of your personnel and how each one will use their devices, what type of devices they will be using, ensuring that you have the right MDM solution in place to help support your device management, while educating and communicating these policies to your workforce.
By doing so you will ensure that your mobile devices are well managed, protected, and used responsibly so that your data and technology infrastructure are well protected.
If you're looking to transform the way you manage your warehouse and inventory, click the link below to get in contact with us. We’d be happy to speak with you!