There's a universal need for clear and flexible policies and rules regarding mobile devices.
The big debate by many companies large and small is how to deal with the whole smartphone and tablet issue. It doesn't matter if it's Apple, or Android, or any other provider; the fundamental issues over security, accessibility, ownership, and distractions are the same.
Technology will not go away, and with the introduction of wearable technology, it is likely to accelerate the need for a formally stated relationship regarding its use.
On the one hand, these devices can help any company leverage their competitive position by allowing management and staff to be more effective, more productive, and more connected than ever before. On the other hand, each party needs to give up some control to maximize the benefit to everyone.
Managing all the positive and potentially negative factors is a challenge but isn't insurmountable. Balance is key.
When I think of privacy and a code of conduct, I refer to my insurance background and think of the term "utmost good faith," and I remember the famous Ronald Reagan line: "Trust but verify." I believe these concepts are crucial to taking advantage of mobile technology.
From the users' point of view, they need access to the information via Wi-Fi or the Internet, they need to allow the company to monitor their usage, and finally they need to ensure they do not abuse the privilege of using technology in the workplace.
Does the company provide Wi-Fi to its staff? The advantage to the company is that they will have some control over which websites are accessed and how to share information at usually a very low cost.
There is a tradeoff for both sides.
Who owns the device? Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is becoming more attractive to all parties.
The advantage to the company is that there is zero to little cost for acquisition and maintenance of the device. The disadvantage is loss of control over which devices are used and what is on the device and what it can access.
The advantage to the users is that they can use the device of their personal choice. Instead of the whole Apple vs. Android vs. everyone else, the users can utilize the device they can afford or choose to use for both professional and personal business. The disadvantage if you're the user is that if it breaks, it's your problem. You may also need to acquire software necessary to access company information or processes.
Summing It Up
As each company has different needs and requirements, it is difficult to apply the same standards to each business, but I believe there's a universal need for clear and flexible policies and rules regarding mobile devices. Depending on the resources available to the company, legal advice may be required. Again, balance is needed, and each company and user needs to find that balance.
"Utmost good faith" and "Trust but verify." These are two simple concepts that could allow both companies and users to truly benefit from mobile devices in the workplace.