My goal today is to make you squirm.  I want you to feel a little uneasy.  Most importantly, I want you to think, hard, about a subject with the questions I am about to ask.  The questions I pose to you are these:

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  • What happens if you are the unlucky person who loses their mobile device at the airport, at the gym, or at the office? 
  • Will you miss your electronic tether immediately or will the freedom from rings, dings and, vibrations take you back to a simpler time in your life? 
  • Will your phone end up being sold at a pawn shop? 
  • Will someone steal your personal information? 
  • Will someone who isn’t your biggest fan at the office place and approve a 3 million dollar order with a specialty steel plant in China? 

Do you think such incidents could not possibly happen to you?
I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news!  

 Bad News Barrett (Copyright WWE)

According to the 2014 Consumer Reports infographic shown below, 1.4 million people lost their smart phone in 2013 up from 1.2 million 2012.  However, a more chilling tale is that 3.1 million smart phones were stolen in 2013 up from 1.6 million in 2012.

ConsumerReports infographic where is my smart phone (Mobile Procurement)

So approximately 4.5 million smart phones were lost or stolen in 2013 and of those, according to the ConsumerReports survey, 34% of these phones had no security measures activated on the device whatsoever.

Mobile Procurement on the Rise

Now these are some very sobering statistics, but wait a minute, I have some more numbers that should make you, as a mobile procurement professional, think even harder:

According to an article on that quotes a 2013 study by AnPresence, Inc. based out of Reston, VA, “31.5 percent of respondents have deployed or will deploy mobile apps for procurement, among other functions, in the next 12 months. An equal proportion will do the same with apps for supply chain partners and shipping and distribution”.

So think about this topic in very rough estimates, approximately 1/3 of all businesses will be utilizing mobile apps for procurement by the end of 2014.

Now, chances are if you are using mobile procurement apps, you are needed to review and approve purchases when you are out of the office.  Perhaps you are a road warrior or work between multiple buildings on a large campus.

It would be nice to assume that a mobile procurement app requires the user to login anytime the app hasn’t been used for x amount of minutes.  The reality is that many people don’t want to be bothered logging in and out constantly (guilty as charged here) and find their own ways around it. Thus, this creates yet another layer of security risk.

Mitigating Risk

So, armed with all the data presented here today, it is your turn to ask, no, make that insist, your procurement software or cloud provider answers, in detail, some serious questions about the security features built into their mobile apps.  

If you are not sure which questions to ask, get your Information Technology team out of that freezing server room and get them involved in the process. (Believe me; they will appreciate the chance to offer their input!).  

Refuse to accept answers that skirt your line of questioning and probe deeper when you feel the answers are clichéd and thin on content.  That way, you’ll sleep much better at night!  Don’t risk being on the receiving end of the blame when your stolen phone places and approves a 3 million dollar order.


Greg Uhrlen
Marketing Manager
Next Level Purchasing Association
1315 Coraopolis Heights Rd, Suite 1001
Moon Township, PA 15108
Phone: 1-412-262-1334