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What Does It Mean to Be a Mobile Enterprise?

29 Jan 2016 by Bob Violino

The rapid growth of mobile devices and apps in the workplace presents some compelling potential benefits for enterprises and employees. For example, workers in all types of jobs can more easily access corporate data, enterprise applications and a variety of content from virtually any location.

They can also more effectively communicate and collaborate with coworkers, business partners and customers around the world, and in general work more productively because of the greater flexibility enabled by these devices.

But the proliferation of mobile technologies — in effect, the mobile revolution that’s underway — is also bringing daunting challenges in terms of information security, manageability and productivity. Organizations need to effectively address these challenges, because there is no turning back from the impact mobile technology is having on business operations across the board.

Mobility’s pervasive progress

Mobile now means much more than Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). By now, many companies have launched formal BYOD programs and policies, and the use of employee-owned devices for work purposes has become a common practice. Mobility has broadened to the point where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate the concept from standard business operations.

Research firm Gartner stated in its October 2015 report, “Predicts 2016: Mobile and Wireless,” that “as mobility moves into its maturity phase, its impact becomes less self-contained under the banner of mobility, and instead spreads across the computing infrastructure.” Security, manageability and productivity are the key themes presented in the report.

Gartner’s predictions “support the concept that mobility is becoming more invisible as it pushes its challenges into every traditional area of IT, forcing those areas to become more robust. It is important that IT continually use mobility as the ultimate test of the viability and completeness of all strategies that become part of any IT or vendor's overall plans."

Mismanagement of mobility  

To effectively manage this new environment, IT and business executives at organizations will need to get a good handle on both the variety of devices in use — smartphones, tablets, laptops, smartwatches and other wearables — as well as the operating systems they run and the applications they support.

Even though mobile technology and BYOD have become so commonplace, that doesn’t mean organizations have mastered the art of managing these environments. As research from Ovum has noted, more than 25% of bring your own smartphone activity still goes on directly against corporate policies, and only 36% of those employees who use their own smartphone for work have signed up to any kind of policy governing that usage.

Other research reveals additional weaknesses. For example, a March 2015 study by the Ponemon Institute and IBM reported that about 40% of large companies are failing to take proper precautions to secure the mobile apps they are building for their customers. That study also found that enterprises are doing a poor job of protecting their corporate- and employee-owned devices against cyberattacks, and this gives hackers an opportunity to access user, corporate and customer data.

Multifaceted mobility management

One viable way to address the burgeoning mobility challenges is to deploy technology tools such as enterprise mobility management (EMM). These products provide the ability to secure and manage devices used by employees, whether they are owned by the company or its employees. EMM systems are designed to be used for managing a variety of devices, and many can support multiple mobile operating systems.

The need for EMM solutions has risen quickly, as enterprises seek ways to manage various facets of mobility, including devices, software, data and applications, according to a 2015 report from research and consulting firm The Radicati Group Inc.

In the report, “Enterprise Mobility Management Market, 2015-2019,” the firm predicted that the EMM market is expected to expand to more than $4.4 billion by the end of 2019, at an average annual growth rate of more than 30% over the next four years.

As the research firm describes in its study, EMM covers several areas of functionality, including mobile device management, mobile application management and mobile content management. Each of these is vital to building a strong mobility management strategy.

Another 2015 report on the technology, by Research and Markets, notes that the EMM market is dominated by companies such as AirWatch (VMWare), Good Technology, BlackBerry, MobileIron, Citrix Systems, SAP and IBM. Nearly 60% of the market is captured by these companies, it says.

Mobile content management is expected to be the fastest growing component in the coming years due to increasing demand for managing big data, the study says.

To learn more about managing mobility at your organization, get the Gartner “Predicts 2016: Mobile and Wireless” report.