Mobilising small businesses with Windows 10

For small businesses, every corporate initiative, pilot project, new direction or policy change could mean the difference between survival and shutdown. With this in mind, there are a number of factors to consider when implementing a mobility programme, explains Dell's Neil Marshall

By Guest on 20 April 2016
Mobilising small businesses with Windows 10

This article first appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of OnWindows.

There’s no question that the benefits of mobility are enticing: improved efficiency through less paperwork, greater employee productivity through 24/7 access to work files, faster customer-response times, money savings through bring your own device (BYOD) policies, and the ability to hire remote workers or offer remote work policies for existing employees, among other advantages. Mobility, if done right, can truly revolutionise and grow a small business.

However, there are legitimate factors that every small and midsize business (SMB) should consider before implementing a mobile workplace. Backfilling devices, the security challenges, training costs, and a further stretching of an already-stretched IT team (if there is one) are issues which should be factored into and addressed by any decision.

And, while solutions to these issues are definitely available, the good news is that the release of Microsoft’s new OS makes this considerably easier. Windows 10 is bringing the best of mobility together in a more secure and ­easier-to-implement package, giving small businesses a good reason to take a fresh look at mobility.

Windows 10 can help make a mobile workforce more immediately available for a small business, in a number of ways. The first is the system’s built-in security features for BYOD and other mixed-use devices. Given that 60% of SMBs are forced to close within six months of experiencing a data breach, it’s tough to overstate the risks of unsecured BYOD and mobility programs. Windows 10 addresses some of the most common ­mobility-related security threats by instituting multi-factor authentication, baking data loss prevention into the platform and helping protect against malware.

When a company registers a device for Windows 10, that device becomes one of the factors required for authentication. The second factor is up to the individual, but it typically will be a PIN or a fingerprint or other biometric scan (coming soon: facial authentication). This ensures that hackers can’t get into your system just because they’ve obtained an employee’s device or password alone.

In 2014, 87% of senior managers admitted to regularly uploading work files to a personal email or cloud account, while 58% of users admitted to accidentally sending sensitive information to the wrong person. Windows 10 combats this by separating apps and files into ‘corporate-managed’ and ‘personal’. If a user tries to paste corporate-managed content into a personal file, Windows 10 will make the ‘paste’ function unavailable.

Offering these built-in security features not only saves you time on IT maintenance and management, it could potentially save a business from a catastrophic security event.

Now for many businesses there will be a ­legacy impact. For instance, even if you have devices which are all Windows based, it will be important to install an infrastructure which applies the same security protections to devices carrying older versions of Windows software. However the security features inherent in the new Windows 10 makes it easier for small businesses to be secure and mobile.

Another benefit is that Windows 10 has been made to be used both on the move and at home. While this is great news for all users, it could be especially pertinent for SMBs looking to embrace a more mobile workplace. Smaller businesses most likely expect employees to be reliant on a single device, and may not have the capital to immediately embrace a wider infrastructure of devices (screens or docking ports for example). With an OS which allows users to be productive wherever they find themselves, SMBs will need to invest less initial capital to enable a mobile workforce and will find it easier to equip workers with all the tools they need to collaborate and work freely.

Some of the best features of Windows 10 relate to the user experience. Employees will have the ­ability to create multiple desktop environments to stay more organised. And with the new Microsoft Edge browser, users can be more collaborative from their mobile devices, writing notes directly onto web pages and sharing them with co-workers.

In addition, it’s easy to sync Bluetooth devices, change the resolution of a laptop and perform other typical settings tasks, keeping training needs down to a minimum.

Even amongst a small team, integrated collaboration features can have a huge impact on productivity and can make life significantly easier for all workers. However, to truly enjoy the collaborative features inherent in the OS, small businesses should also ensure that any additions to their mobile fleet should include devices which enhance these advancements. Placing a higher importance on 2-in-1 devices – or those which carry strong video and audio capabilities – will also help small businesses truly reap the benefits of a mobile and collaborative workplace.

Mobility might have seemed like a pipe dream for small businesses before Windows 10, but now they have the opportunity to expand productivity, generate time and money savings, and give employees the convenience they need to thrive in today’s mobile world.

Neil Marshall is director of Client Solutions at Dell UK

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