Buying and managing phones for employees is an strategic important step that addresses a number of the problems facing small businesses. There are great resources online to help you understand the returns you can gain from providing phones to employees. This article will help you see the benefits of managing those phones and eliminating variables in the employee’s experience.

Most owners and executives in small businesses are wary of investing too heavily in management automation tools. They may believe that the cost of management tools and the time spent learning them don’t add up, compared to simply brute-forcing a task by hand. I think that small businesses often err on the side of conservatism this way, and a small amount of effort spent developing or learning automation tools ends up with huge benefits and savings.

And when I talk to small businesses, they usually agree: Once they scale what seemed like a huge mountain of work to automate a task, the payoff comes quickly and easily. The hardest part is taking that first step into task automation.

A case in point I often bring up is Samsung Knox Configure. It looks like it could be a lot of work — but it’s not. And Knox Configure doesn’t just save small businesses time; when you account for the time you can save your employees by preconfiguring their devices, the savings are even higher.

What Is Knox Configure?

Let’s step back and explain what Knox Configure is: a mobile device configuration tool, specific to Samsung’s smartphones and tablets running Android. Knox Configure bridges the gap between a smartphone sealed in a box and one ready for a user to put in their pocket. With Knox Configure, the moment a smartphone wakes up for the very first time, it automatically downloads a complete profile — everything from which applications are installed, phone security settings (and most other settings, for that matter), how Wi-Fi and other network services work, settings for patches and updates and configuration for advanced security features such as URL filtering and application whitelists and blocklists.

Knox Configure works in the cloud, so IT managers log onto a Samsung portal and set up policies. Meanwhile, resellers providing phones load their serial numbers into Knox Configure, which means that as soon as the phone is turned on and has network access, it starts to load initial settings. And, if the Knox Configure profile changes, these changes are automatically pulled down by the phone.

Small business IT managers who don’t have a single reseller they work with can use the Knox Deployment App, a tool running on one smartphone that can push Knox Configure settings to a brand new phone within Bluetooth or NFC range. It’s not quite as snazzy as drop-shipping a sealed phone to someone and having the phone magically self-configure as soon as it gets power, but it does save a ton of steps getting a new phone ready to use. And it’s not just IT time; it’s end-user time. Within a few minutes, the phone is ready to go.

How much time and money do you save? In a 2017 study on the return on investment (ROI) of Knox Configure, Forrester found that it has a 164 percent ROI over three years and a payback period of only two months. Additionally, using Knox Configure reduced deployment time by 30 minutes per device.

Enhanced Security With Better Management

Saving time deploying devices can be a hard sell. You may think, “Oh, I don’t do that very often,” or “How much time does it really take?” But if you step back and think about how much time you spend in trying to get devices ready to go, it probably adds up. And more importantly, it’s crunch time. When someone gets a new phone — maybe they lost their old one, or just got approved for an upgrade — they don’t want to wait for you to find time in your schedule to get it configured. With prebuild settings in Knox Configure, you can hand over a device without delay, providing better service and maximixing employee productivity.

Even IT managers who only do this once a month get a payoff from automation: less chance to forget some critical step or make an error because you’ve missed something. All that adds up to better security, because one of the biggest holes in information security nowadays is user error. When IT managers make mistakes, even very small ones, bad things can happen.

Knox Configure can operate dynamically, meaning that any changes to policy are pushed to all devices — a key function in a world where security settings are constantly changing and need updates.

Or you can use it in a “static” mode, where policies are pushed to the device just once when it’s initially set up, and then Knox Configure drops out of the picture. In the latter case, Knox Configure can be used with our Knox Mobile Enrollment tool to bridge the gap between the first power-on and enrollment in your chosen Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution and its own management capabilities.

I’ve seen these configuration and control features in some impressive use cases in retail or hospitality environments. For example, Knox Configure can be used when locking down a tablet in a public-facing kiosk to a single purpose use, such as allowing a shopper to browse through the store’s inventory, but prohibiting them from surfing the internet and looking at competitors’ sites.

Knox Configure can be used when devices need to be wiped and reconfigured. You no longer have to walk end users through the configuration process after a remote wipe. Our research shows that Knox Configure cuts the time required to reset an existing phone from one hour down to 20 minutes. That makes for happier end users, and gives you back more time to focus on high-value projects within the organization — not fiddling around with mobile device settings.

As mobile devices continue to become more pervasive and essential in the workplace, I believe it’s equally imperative that IT in businesses of all sizes has an automated solution that allows them to provision and deploy multiple purpose-built devices in a productive manner. Samsung Knox Configure achieves this goal while also delivering a strong ROI for the business.