As enterprises decide to invest in purchasing modern rugged devices, they should also be taking steps to mitigate devices from being lost or stolen. The true cost of losing a mobile device (including laptops, tablets, and smartphones) goes far beyond the price of replacement and poses many dangers to an organization if the right measures aren’t in place.

Device loss happens in a variety of ways. Some of the most common include:

  • Employees misplacing them in the store (e.g. left in a box, behind items on a shelf, in a locker or drawer)
  • Employee theft
  • Public theft

It’s important to understand and communicate to stakeholders that device loss is not 100% preventable. Occasionally devices get misplaced by an employee or stolen by a curious customer wanting to resell the hardware on eBay; point being, sometimes things happen that are beyond our control. You can, however, put measures in place that mitigate device loss and protect you from security risks. 

Device Accountability

Putting device accountability measures in place is a great way to mitigate device loss for companies of all sizes. Let’s walk through a few measures that can help your organization begin mitigating device loss.

Device Level Single Sign-On

Single sign-on involves users logging in and logging out of whichever device they are using during their shift. Each time a user logs in and logs out of the device an auditable trail, known as check-in and check-out, is created. Having an auditable trail in place often helps reshape employee behavior by improving the level of care they put into handling and securing devices throughout the workday.

Device Telemetry Data

Telemetry data captured on devices can be used as breadcrumbs to hone in on a device’s current or last-known location. It’s especially useful for the warehouse use-case, where finding a misplaced device is difficult due to the large space and noisy environment. Let’s say a device has not checked in since the previous night and an employee during the morning shift needs the device to do their tasking. If the device administrator has access to battery information and network information, along with the check-in/check-out data, they would be able to see who had the device last, when the device was last seen on the network, which network access point the device was pinging and it’s signal strength. With those data points, the admin could begin a more informed search for the device.

Device Tracking

In an age where consumers are accustomed to being able to “find” their devices by simply logging into a portal and clicking a button, it should come as no surprise that Enterprises would want the same level of convenience. Device tracking in real or near real-time is another great way to mitigate device loss and as a result, becoming standard requirements for more and more enterprises.

Audible Alerts

If you own an iPhone or Android smartphone, then you are likely familiar with their respective “Find My iPhone/Device” features. When a device goes missing, the user logs into a portal and sends a command to the phone to force it to play an audible sound, usually at a high volume to make it easier to locate.

Some top-tier solutions, such as BlueFletch EMS, take this feature a step farther by utilizing automatic alerts. Automatic alerts can be leveraged through baked-in configurations that cause devices to play an audible sound whenever certain criteria are met, such as:

  • Predetermined battery threshold is reached (e.g. 15%), the device has not detected movement, and it’s not charging.

We’ve heard the stories before – an employee leaves a device on a shelf in the stock room, accidentally misplaced on top of a box, or left inside a locker with no eyes on it. Automatic alerts to the rescue right? Well, just like the tree falling in the woods, if no one is around to hear it, then…you see where I’m going here? Luckily, there’s a solution for that, and it’s a concept known as broadcasting.

Broadcasts

In a similar vein to the configured automatic alerts, broadcasts occur when certain criteria are met. But instead of dispatching an audible noise, the device sends a notification in a number of different formats, such as:

  • Email
  • Text
  • Notifications to dashboard

Broadcasts are especially advantageous for supply chain, warehouse-centric, or other industries that have large outdoor spaces where hearing an audible alert may not be possible.

Visual Tracking

Arguably the most complex form of device tracking is visual. Visual tracking usually involves a real or near real-time visual representation of devices overlayed on a map or diagram of the site where the devices are deployed. There are a number of factors that need to be considered in order to make visual tracking successful, such as:

  • Sites need to be mapped and recorded, including updates and changes to the layout
  • Strong network infrastructure to support triangulation via access points
  • Define the level of precision that is required
  • Impact study how items stored in a location may affect signal strength (e.g. walking through an aisle of packaged liquids will affect signal strength at certain frequencies
  • Availability of GPS

Device-to-device locating is a more recent development of Visual Tracking. Think of it as using one device as a homing beacon or metal detector to locate another. Solutions can be innovative by leveraging augmented reality (AR) to guide the user towards the missing devices, or as simple as displaying a map or diagram of the site on the screen, which is more in line with the traditional method of visual device tracking.

Final Thoughts

Although there are a number of valuable solutions currently available to help mitigate the loss of enterprise devices, protecting against the loss of enterprise devices starts with employee training around device use best practices. Employees should be responsible for taking simple actions such as:

  • Putting devices on their cradles/chargers whenever an employee finishes their shift
  • Using holsters or lanyards for devices when carrying devices on their person
  • Avoid putting devices down in random places throughout the day
  • Avoid placing devices in drawers or lockers

Rugged enterprise devices are not only expensive to replace, they may be carrying valuable and sensitive data which, if breached, can be costly to the organization in ways that money alone cannot cover.

If you’d like to learn how BlueFletch can help you mitigate device loss, please contact info@bluefletch.com.

Gino Emanuels

Gino Emanuels

Manager | Product Management - Gino is a SaaS product manager, strategist, and leader with a passion for solving complex problems through collaboration and action in the technology space.