With the consumerisation of IT and BYOD transforming the enterprise IT landscape, mobility management has become a hot topic involving a number of challenges.
IT has fast become a juggling act that grows ever more difficult as organisations are expected to monitor and manage multiple new devices per employee and decide which mobile OSes and devices to support.
They also need to formulate clear and coherent mobility guidelines and policies for employees and hopefully safeguard their corporate data and networks. On top of this, they also need to aim to deliver the ultimate user experience.
User experience is and should be the primary test for successful mobility within the enterprise.
Mobility is the most powerful productivity enabler that can lead to huge improvements and if managed effectively, the benefits for both the enterprise and employees are endless. This does not just mean managing the device - the appliance is not where tech providers should be focusing and nor should we see mobility as merely a security question.
Employees don't just want to bring their personal devices to work; they are choosing mobile as their preferred computing platform. So they want immediate access to corporate data, email and apps - all the elements that are essential for their work life.
Enterprises therefore need to become mobile first, embracing mobility as their primary IT platform and creating business processes and applications with the mobile device and mobile user in mind.
Device management is the foundation of an enterprise customer's journey to mobility. Organisations must ensure employee or corporate devices are secure, that data is encrypted, and that they can remove corporate data if a device is lost, misplaced or stolen. Most importantly, that security should be invisible to the user.
With more than a million apps in the Apple App Store alone, employers can help their staff by defining supported apps, recommended apps and offer ways for users to find, access and install them. The complexity increases when multiple OSes are deployed, and IT has a crucial role to play to help users navigate the app jungle.
Channel providers need to look at internal app development or mobile app outsourcing for their customer. Mobile apps need to be delivered fast, with regular iterations and often by groups that are different from the traditional application development teams.
Set policies for data access, best practice on user experience and testing services, even if the actual app development is delivered by line-of-business or external agencies.
Resellers can also provide some great value-added services that help customer organisations define their mobile app policies.
Corporate data and content represent the crux of enterprise mobile IT concerns. Ultimately, they are the lifeblood of the company, so organisations must provide users with a way to access, store and view content and data that is as intuitive as possible, and establish data loss prevention controls to protect and secure them.
The customer organisation should make sure that corporate data is encrypted in motion, on the device, that passwords are deployed into the corporate container on the device, and that copy and paste controls, print controls and "open-in" management are all defined.
IDC has predicted that over the next three years, more than a billion new smartphones will be shipped for business use. This suggests that a new mobile management approach is required.
People who say BYOD will not last in the enterprise or the opposite - that it will be the only mechanism to enable mobility - are wrong.
BYOD is one option for device purchasers and is definitely here to stay. Still, some organisations will continue to deliver corporately owned devices, probably in a choose-your-own-device way. There is no doubt that one size won't fit all; many organisations will have a mixed policy, depending on the role of the employee and the sensitivity of data being accessed.
The channel cannot work in isolation. With BYOD, and Bring Your Own App, end users and employees now have the ability to influence IT policy, demanding less IT-fixed control and more accommodation of flexible working practices. VARs will need to take this into account as they act as trusted advisers.
Nigel Hawthorn is EMEA director at MobileIron
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