Deloitte lightens the load for its mobile workforce

Accountancy and professional services giant Deloitte has a highly mobile workforce – around 15,000 of its employees are out and about every day. For many, that lifestyle involves a bewildering array of technology.

When CIO Matt Peers did a survey of employee technology habits, he found that some staff carried as many as five devices around with them.

However, until last year, the company only issued BlackBerrys to senior management staff. That left a significant proportion of the workforce who were unable to check and answer email on the go.

Last September, Deloitte launched a new mobile strategy that allows all employees to use their own smartphones to access corporate systems. It also offers eligible staff a choice of a company-issued BlackBerry or smartphone if they want one.

To ensure the security of company information on smartphones, Deloitte uses Good Technology’s mobile device management system. This creates a partitioned ‘container’ on the user’s device, through which they can access company systems.

Peers reports that, contrary to some users’ complaints, he has found that the Good partition does not diminish the user experience. “It doesn’t matter if you move between the container and the native OS, the look and feel is the same,” he says.

The strategy has been well received, he says. “The comments people post on our internal social media have been overtly positive. Everybody usually likes to have a pop at IT when things don’t work, but this has gone some way to show that IT is not just about systems – it’s about giving people access and flexibility.”

Peers believes the fact that Deloitte now embraces the diversity of mobile devices makes it a more attractive employer for graduates. “It signals that we want them to be productive,” he says.

The diversity of devices now in use at the firm has also been welcomed by its IT support staff. “It makes life more interesting for those people. They are not just doing BlackBerry support.”

So far, Peers has not seen any uptick in the overall number of support calls relating to mobile devices, in part because many of the processes such as commissioning or wiping devices have been automated.

His attitude to supporting employee- owned devices is that if it helps the firm to service the customer, it is worth the cost. “We will always try to help our employees to work, because it benefits our firm and our clients,” he says.

Deloitte is exploring various ways to deliver not just email and documents to mobile devices but also application functionality. One way it does this is to provide secure access to its SAP applications through the browser within the Good Technology container.

It has also developed an internal AppStore, allowing iPhone and iPad users to download purpose-built apps, such as a time-sheet application. These apps execute outside the Good container, but Peers says that they have been designed in such a way that they do not interact with the local storage on the device.

“There’s a massive debate about the right way to do mobile applications, and we’re progressing quite cautiously,” says Peers.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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