Taking iPads on the Road-Securely
By Royce Boehrs
While you might not recognize Bedford Industries by name, you are most certainly familiar with our products. The household twist tie, most commonly known for its use on bags of bread, has been our core product for more than 45 years—when the company first began in our (still current) owner’s garage.
Since then, Bedford’s offerings have expanded to include ElastiTags (promotional tags you might see around a bottle of wine with a recipe or around laundry detergent with a coupon) and product identification ties (tied around broccoli at the grocery store, for example, containing the vegetable’s name and a bar-code for scanning). And we offer a whole lot more.
Given the nature of our business, our staff is on the road a lot. Our salespeople have territories, and because people want to be able to see, touch and feel our products, face-to-face interaction is key.
But it’s not just our sales folks who do all the traveling. Our marketing staff also attends a variety of trade shows, and our engineers visit customer sitesl. So we were challenged with finding a way for everyone who needs to be out of the office to access files from our server whenever they need them, from wherever they are—securely.
In the past, our employees would travel with a laptop. While not a huge inconvenience, the advent of tablet computers, particularly the iPad, meant that these employees could travel lighter and use the tablet for planned, or even impromptu, presentations.
The downside to the introduction of the tablets was that to access files housed on our servers, offsite employees would have to email the files to themselves or place them in unsecured third-party, consumer-syncing applications that had no management capabilities for IT staff. In other words, these alternative solutions made our IT folks, me included, pretty uncomfortable.
We were already looking at how we could incorporate tablets into our company, but since nothing would give us the control and security options we needed, we just couldn’t make the leap. We knew, though, that if we addressed those issues, we could give our people in the field access to files they might need to close business and handle account management better, so we were eager to find something that would work well for us.
Simple, Secure Solution
Since we design all our products in-house, we have a significantly large graphics department for our size company, so we’ve been using GroupLogic’s ExtremeZ-IP software for the past 12 years to bridge the digital divide between our various Macs and PCs. That helped when it came time to find a solution for accessing files on our iPads, because it meant I was already familiar with the company’s products and services.
After investigating GroupLogic’s mobile file management product, mobilEcho, I downloaded the free trial. I could see that it would enable our employees to access our server securely and easily retrieve files, while giving the IT department the control we needed, including the ability to remotely wipe the device if it was lost, stolen or compromised.
We started gradually introducing iPads into our company of approximately 300 employees, and the number continues to climb at a steady rate. The people who have been given iPads and access to mobilEcho span many departments, including sales, marketing, the management team, graphic arts, IT and engineering. We are also supporting iPhones for file access.
Now that we have a secure way to access files from our iPads and iPhones, it’s amazing how far we’ve come in such a short period of time. It seems as if every day we’re finding another use for them, and our salespeople are thrilled because having secure, real-time access to files through these devices has helped them close more business.
One of my favorite examples is when one of our regional sales managers was at dinner with a client in Mexico City. They were talking about one of our newer products, and the customer had some questions. Instead of having to wait and email more information the next day, the manager used mobilEcho to access our server and show the client a video in real time. The sales manager secured the sale right there.
The efficiency that the tablets and the mobile file management solution bring to our employees who travel for business is worth more than the cost of the devices. In fact, I’d probably have a rebellion on my hands if I tried to take them away.
Royce Boehrs is the network/security administrator at Bedford Industries.