Perhaps surprisingly, given the amount of hype on the subject, channel leaders appear to be taking a measured approach to mobile security. And several experts at CRN's Channel Conference on Mobility also agreed that it might be almost too late to begin selling mobility, if you haven't already started.
Speakers stressed the need to devote time and technical expertise to finding out about the customer's specific needs and business operation, including details of what they have already done as well as what they want to achieve. Then, and only then, should tech providers deliver to the mobility request - including a realistic, and appropriate, level of security.
Jamie Marshall, chief technology officer at managed services provider Calyx, even suggested that if the customer organisation demands a lot - for example, insisting on something closer to total lockdown - the best move is to wave a friendly goodbye and move on to a different prospect.
He also explained that a laptop had been stolen from his own company's finance team. Yes, it had corporate data on it, but the ramifications of that tend to be proportionate to the incident, the technology itself, and the status of the data.
"It has not come back to haunt us, because it is generally uninteresting data," Marshall said. "We had it backed up. The person who took it probably wiped it, loaded Windows 7 on it, and sold it."
He added that he didn't mean to seem cavalier about mobile security, but in truth, many fewer businesses need confidentiality than popular discussion of the issues sometimes implies.
Speakers agreed that mobility should now be a fully integrated and seamless part of any IT-related products or services offering. Mobility is neither a fad nor a bolt-on proposition. Customers now always expect it, and are definitely demanding it.
Figures quoted broadly suggest the market for mobility-related IT and services will expand massively, to about $140bn (£83bn) by 2020.
Workers at all levels increasingly expect data and information - as has often been repeated - anywhere, any time, and any place. At the same time, only a few people in the audience on the day said their own mobility integration was complete and satisfactory.
Borja Rosales, managing director of Druva in Europe, noted that the channel must understand also that mobility isn't just about enabling workers who don't come into the office with technology, but about the worker who does come into the office and has a desktop but is bringing in his or her own tablet, laptop or smartphone.
"These demands are something the IT department has to enable; this is non-negotiable," Rosales confirmed.
Darron Antill, chief executive of managed services specialist Intrinsic Technology, also noted that one cannot prepare for all eventualities, citing his own firm's experiences in New York during Hurricane Sandy (See NASA image, right) .
"In New York things are underground because they plan for terrorist activity and disaster recovery," he said. "But there was a 14ft wave surge, and there were fish in the basement."
Once again, it goes back to deploying according to an organisation's situation and needs -and not trying to deliver the moon on a stick, Antill agreed.
Ian van Reenen, chief technology officer at CentraStage, added that mobile management has several different strands for the channel, and all can be monetised. Important business data must be located, and a strategy must be decided upon, then access must be delivered, and managed, monitored and reported on.
"Who has access to the data, what on, and where can they access it from? Geofencing can see where they are, and stipulate that as long as GPS says the device is within certain boundaries, they can access it," Reenan explained.
Alan Shields, IT services head at Cambridgeshire County Council, gave a customer's eye view of the mobility landscape to delegates.
"Users want a mobile solution that works," he said. "It's no different to any other solution you're going to sell me."
Consumerisation has "put the cat among the pigeons" in terms of making demand for and expectations around mobility near-ubiquitous, and raising the stakes for channel providers because customers want mobility to be a part of their standard, everyday IT, not an added extra. That effect has been exacerbated by the entry of Generation Y into the workplace.
All agreed that mobility is and will continue to be an expanding consultancy opportunity for the channel.
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