Overcoming enterprise mobility challenges

by Sohini Bagchi    Oct 03, 2012

enterprise mobilityMoving from the days of mainframe to PCs and then the internet and now to mobile devices, the CIOs have come a long way. They have constantly transformed themselves in the ever changing world of enterprise IT to thrive in a fast moving business landscape. Currently, CIOs are adapting to the phenomenal changes occurring in the enterprise mobility space.

Opportunities galore

According to a recent report by research firm McKinsey, 56 percent CIOs reported a strong demand from their staff to support a wide range of mobile devices. Nearly 77 percent of CIOs said that they are planning to allow their employees to use personal mobile devices for accessing company data and applications. Almost all the CIOs said in the next two years they are planning to deploy more than 25 mobility applications.

The mobility landscape is driven by user adoption and constant innovation. Experts believe it is revolutionising the whole business communication process.

“Mobility is growing at a phenomenal rate with smartphones, tablets, and other devices enabled by 3G and 4G networks and newer applications being introduced in the market every month. And each innovation in technology brings with it newer sets of opportunities and challenges for the CIOs,” says Keith Higgins, CMO, Symphony Teleca Corporation.

According to him, today, providing mobile access to core business areas such as ERP and CRM on the cloud as well as mobile videoconferencing and other mobile apps have enhanced business productivity to a great extent. It is increasingly helping enterprises to connect to their customers in newer ways.

According to Srinivas Raman, Head – IT at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, enterprise mobility can automate processes and make the system more efficient. For example, smart sensors can offer products new capabilities and spark novel business models, particularly in the healthcare segment, where patients use sensors to report changes in health conditions to physicians. This helps physicians to adjust treatment or proactively engage the patient when appropriate.

Challenges remain

However, CIOs believe even though mobility has the potential to greatly improve business performance, but in our experience, it comes with its share of challenges. The McKinsey report states security and cost as the key concerns in enterprise mobility that is presently haunting CIOs.

Many CIOs believe that that an integrate approach to mobile security can help them drive business revenue and reduced complexities.

“CIOs and CSOs need to ensure mobile data security along with multiple solutions for foolproof security. They are increasingly that it is no longer about different solutions but more about integrated solutions. A single view of the risk posture of the organisation will help CIOs plan their investments better and also be able to proactively prove compliance and deploy solutions to enhance their security posture,” Kevin LeBlanc, Senior Director of Product Marketing, McAfee.

Companies with successful mobile strategies tend to involve corporate security staff early in strategy development, embed security as a core component of the mobile architecture, and develop clear mobile policies that balance user demand with security requirements. Some companies are making this trade-off by limiting which applications can be locally installed on mobile devices. At some companies, for example, ERP systems can be accessed but not locally installed, which ensures that data do not leave the premises.

Cost is another area that often poses a challenge in enterprise mobility. Developing new mobile applications and extended e-mail capacity and help-desk support often becomes expensive for the company. But Arindam Acharya, Head Technical Services at Madras Cements believes that enterprises can manage the cost issue by adopting a tiered approach. Virtual-desktop integration can be used on mobile devices to reduce cost and complexity.

“At the same time Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) approach allows employees to bring their personal devices and provide them with only basic enterprise applications like e-mail and the company directory,” he says.

However, even though BYOD is the evolving trend and is expected to grow, it is blurring the lines between work and personal life as a result of which CIOs and IT leaders are grappling with a range of new security challenges.

“The need of the hour for people is to look from a more holistic and multi-layered security model in mobile security rather than fragmented security. CIOs should concentrate more on integration and interlocking solutions to streamline their security solutions. To deal with concepts such as BYOD, solution providers must have a broader set of solutions to address the needs of a large enterprise and CIOs need to ensure implementation goes well,” says LeBlanc.

CIOs also cited governance as another major challenge in this area because mobility doesn’t clearly fit within any traditional IT silo. “To address this issue, IT and business leaders should rethink the application portfolio on the basis of their mobility needs,” says Sanjeev Kumar, Group CIO & President – Business Excellence of Adhunik Group. Enterprise mobility he believes requires a flexible strategy that has to be monitored and accommodated on a regular basis to adapt to the changes occurring in the mobility landscape. Addressing these challenges requires a proactive governance structure.

Although there are certain challenges in the mobility space, with more companies embracing enterprise mobility owing to increase productivity and customer satisfaction, CIOs have to constantly examine issues such as cost, security and governance and see how to bring better business values with the newer range of applications and devices in the mobility space.