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SmartBiz's Keys to Online Success: Keep an Eye On Mobility
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By Carl Weinschenk

Mobility is a great thing for small businesses. It enables people to work on the go, get more done and simply be more available to their customers.

It is important, however, to keep a close eye on mobile workers, for a number of reasons. The most important is security. As a company's mobility grows, the amount and value of the information that workers carry around with them grows. This, of course, enables more work to be done and increases employees' efficiency. On the other hand, it means that lost and, particularly, stolen laptops, cell phones, PDAs can be a disaster.

Thus, it's important that small businesses do two things. One is to use whatever security technology is available. This includes exotic sound techniques such as virtual private networks and encryption. The other is to set policies and make workers stick to them. For instance, a company may decide that it simply too risky to let workers carry the names and personal information of clients on mobile devices. These rules must be enforced.

The other tricky issue regarding mobility is the amorphous nature of use and billing. Many people, especially at small companies, use their personal devices for work. This leads to issues concerning the level of control employers over such issues as the choice of carriers. It also impacts how the bill is divvied up. It also raises questions that related back to security issues: Can an employer demand that a certain level of security software be used?

Mobility is too powerful to simply bypass because of these complexities. However, using these tools without paying attention to billing and security issues is asking for trouble.

Carl Weinschenk is the Editorial Director of SmartBiz.
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