Enterprise mobility is the new buzzword forcing IT decision makers to rethink their business strategies. Mobile technology has evolved from just providing enterprise email on the go, to introducing robust applications and services that have the potential to change the way companies do business, streamline operations, and improve efficiency. Proliferation of smart phones and pervasive mobile devices is helping organizations to leverage contextual data and reach out to their customers and partners in new ways. But many organizations are simply taking a plunge into this new world without applying any thought. There is no denying that enterprise mobility will change the way people work and no organization can remain untouched by this phenomenon. Early adopters of enterprise mobility are already reaping benefits and scaling new heights of customer satisfaction and employee productivity. Since today’s business realities demands agility and enterprise mobility is fast turning out to be a strategic imperative rather than just a technology choice.
Advantages of Enterprise Mobility: The Driving Forces
The mobile app revolution has changed consumer behavior and expectations. Gone are those primitive days of accessing information from company-owned devices such as desktops only. Consumers expect the ability to access information anytime, anywhere on any device. The acceleration of this process has been driven by the consumerization of technology, mainly smartphones and tablets, and the recognition of the fact from both workers and employers that mobile devices increase productivity and enable operational benefits due to flexible working.
Employee Productivity: Making work environment flexible and responsive to changing business realities is the need of the hour. Businesses have realized that by staying averse to using mobile technology in operations is not making most of the present opportunities and staying behind competitors. Think about it, employees are basically glued to their mobile devices and enterprise mobility appears to be a natural progression. After all, it increases productivity by allowing employees to work from the company network on their preferred devices from any location and anytime.
Competitive Advantage: Only innovation-driven companies tend to gain a advantage and stay ahead of the curve. Your organization needs to be the first mover and embrace new opportunities, evolve and change. Enterprise mobility is certainly the next big thing and organizations that turn a blind eye might soon find themselves stalled by primitive system environments leaving them to match up with their bold competitors.
Improved decision making: Enterprise mobility breaks barriers and allows employees the flexibility to communicate with their coworkers, vendors, and suppliers irrespective of time and location. This collaborative environment increases employee responsiveness, decision making, and subsequently faster resolution of disputes.
Increases customer satisfaction: Fierce competition has shifted focus on higher level of customer satisfaction. Product range or price alone are not the differentiators. Very often customer service plays a defining role. With the advent of enterprise mobility, employees can address customer issues in real-time from any location resulting in faster resolution of disputes and improved customer satisfaction.
Enterprise Mobility Strategy
Organizations that are skeptical and reluctant to embrace the proliferation of enterprise mobility find themselves lagging behind due to the inflexible legacy systems. Not to mention that severe disadvantage in terms of losing out to tech-savvy competitors who are willing to take risks. Key lies in taking a systematic and measured path to revamp operations and survive business challenges. By taking such approach, organizations can more effectively rewire their operations and survive ongoing business challenges, while embracing the power of enterprise mobility to facilitate more collaborative and real-time ways of working.
Business-First Strategy: Say no to half-baked strategy
Define your goals and outcomes clearly from the word go. Implementing half-baked strategy without applying any strategic thoughts or consideration to long-term business goals will invariably fail. Think hard and prioritize business objectives, as well as user needs before taking the plunge in the world of enterprise mobility. This process supports alignment across different functions such as business development, marketing, and IT with the objective of adding value for both the enterprise and the user by identifying differentiators.
Freedom and Control: Sides of same coins
Your enterprise mobility strategy should ensure freedom and flexibility demanded by users’ courtesy “consumerization of IT”. On the other hand, enterprise needs to be under complete control to ensure stability and security of corporate data. Striking a balance between freedom and control plays an instrumental role in charting out an enterprise mobility strategy. Other factors that also play a considerable role in the success of mobility deployment are scalability, support and development costs, as well as security structures and operational procedures.
Security should not be an afterthought
Security should be the focal point of your enterprise mobility strategy. It is important to narrow down on and select an appropriate mobile management solution which allows to provide comprehensive support to multiple platforms, encompass management and security policies to company and employee-owned devices, as well as streamline support.
Enterprise Mobility Trends 2014
#1 BYOD along with CYOD
“Bring Your Own Device” phenomenon” is fast becoming a strategic imperative for many organizations looking to offer flexible working environment for employees. While BYOD enables employees to work on their preferred device, the company needs to provide the requisite software to employees. But the deeply fragmented mobile ecosystem makes it a painstakingly difficult task for companies to maintain secure and uniform device and apps usage. Most enterprises have found a way to reduce security woes by embracing Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) where employees can choose from a group of devices. CYOD appears to be a savior for IT team grappling with the complication of device management.
#2 Access and Identity Management
Protecting company’s data at all costs remains to be a top priority. In 2014, user identification and authentication will gain momentum. For robust access and identity management companies need to outline clear policies regarding device use, implement single user sign in, as well as provide a controlled access. Privacy concerns can be significantly addressed and reduced with strong access and identity management. User identification on contextual information can improve identity assurance. An effective mobile application management solution can allow companies to distribute and manage their internal apps via an enterprise app store. This will ultimately allow more secure access to apps as employees can download information based on the profile and designation.
#3. Cloud Technology will evolve
Cloud technology is gaining momentum and consumers are using cloud services such as Evernote, Dropbox and iCloud extensively. While there is no denying that cloud technology is making lives of consumers a lot easier, the other side of story remains that many of these systems do not have enterprise-level security. Protecting enterprise data remains to a big deal and many companies are reluctant to adopt cloud-based services. One of the biggest challenges for companies would be to find a way out and keep data secure and capitalize on the collaborative environment that cloud technology creates. Since cloud technology favors enterprise mobility, securing the technology will be high on the agenda for many IT teams and CIOs. The year 2014 will witness companies setting up local clouds, as well integration of personal clouds with enterprise clouds without compromising security.
#4 Pre-Packaged mobile apps to revolutionize enterprise mobility
According to a research by Forrester, enterprises will start to accept several more mobile apps by line of business such as Finance, Sales, Supply Chain, HR and Field Services. This will lead to innovative ways of working and redefining the existing business processes in a phenomenal manner. However, with the benefits of mobile applications comes new challenges. Be it an appealing User Interface (UI) and intuitive User Experience (UX), the future of mobility is about enabling secure integration with internal systems.
#5 Mobile Application Management (MAM) Will Surpass Mobile Device Management (MDM)
Mobile technology has evolved from providing the mere standard features such as voice calls or text messaging. Today’s smartphones are empowering devices providing versatile features and complete any task using productivity apps. According to a report by Gartner, building mobile applications is one of the most important aspects of enterprise mobility, as business applications bring potential returns to organization. In such a scenario, selecting robust and effective mobile application development platforms (MADP) will also become a top priority for organizations.
#6 Managed Mobility Services
As the need for enterprise mobility picks up, many leading IT firms will start offering a comprehensive range of managed mobility services to improve bottom-line results. Non-IT enterprises struggling to keep in sync with complexities of doing things on their will be on constant lookout for companies to partner with. This will open a world of opportunities for IT firms to prove their worth.
Enterprise Mobility Challenges: Tightrope Walking
Privacy Issues: It is important to consider user perspective while framing IT policy. Rigid and one-sided policies often force employees to carry two devices due to the limited functionality that often curbs regular activities of employees. This restricts the maturity of enterprise mobility in an organization. Organizations face the daunting task of respecting employee’s privacy (more in the case of BYOD devices) while at the same time ensuring that confidential information is not compromised. A collaborative IT policy can encourage users to explore enterprise mobility beyond the basic tasks and contribute to the growth of the technology.
Lack of standardization: Makes it challenging for companies to enforce security policies. Employees using their own devices often question issues related to privacy, data security as well as compliance, especially if device is lost or stolen. In such cases, remote wiping information and protecting sensitive corporate data becomes a challenge.
Battling the problem of plenty: The cost of managing and supporting numerous device models, conflicting operating systems, and device specific features tends to take toll on IT budgets and spending. Support costs and the burden on IT staff is rapidly increasing as more employees seek mobile access to enterprise data and applications. Low-end mobile devices in a BYOD environment reduces productivity and increases management complexity. Developing apps as well as supporting different apps for specific platforms forces organizations to incur significant expenditures.
Race against technology advancements: Keeping pace with the rapidly changing mobile service requirements and technology paradigms is one of the biggest tasks facing the IT team. Change in the mobility world seems to accelerate with the launch of new devices, applications, and content. Enterprises need to look at the larger picture and offer holistic solutions across diverse mobile technologies as well as newer delivery options such as MEAP, cloud platforms, and mobile device management (MDM).
The Big Debate: In-house or Not?
Before embarking on the enterprise mobility journey, an organization needs to decide whether to utilize in-house resources or partner with an external service provider. Going the “in-house” way requires organizations to bear significant investments. Further, your organization needs to be ready to face technological changes and dearth of skilled resources, among other issues. On the other hand, collaborating with an external service provider allows you to enjoy the benefits of enterprise mobility without exorbitant infrastructure costs or the burden of supporting resources to maintain the applications. Organizations are better equipped to handle various complexities such as device heterogentiy or need for constant upgrades. However, it is important to partner with service provider capable of providing support on a range of issues such as mobile app development from development to optimization and cloud-based infrastructure.
Enterprise mobility will continue to evolve and change the way organizations function. Ultimately, CIOs realize that enterprise mobility is not just about improving productivity, but a game-changing technology that will provide a competitive edge while interacting with customers, partners, and employees. But the message is clear that enterprises need to adopt this phenomenon for business innovation, profitability, and overall long-term growth or be left out in the race.