It isn’t news when IT executives, asked about their companies’ mobility plans, express a high level of concern about mobile device and data security. Such was the case in a recent survey conducted by IDG Research Services of nearly 100 top IT executives at companies with 1,000 or more employees. The fact that 60% of the respondents listed security issues as a top mobility challenge wasn’t a surprise. More unusual was the fact another challenge – the need to support multiple devices and form factors – tied security as the top concern, with an identical 60% percentage.

These two mobility concerns, of course, are closely intertwined in a corporate world where IT executives have largely lost their ability to restrict employees to specific phone, tablet or laptop options. Indeed, the poster-child example of the “consumerization of IT” trend is the desire of company employees to use their personal mobile devices to access company resources, and the pressures on IT executives to accommodate this demand. Managing and securing both company-provided devices as well as workers’ personal phones, tablets and laptops is a large and growing source of stress for many IT shops.

Now, the mobile device landscape is set to become even more complex, with Microsoft and its partners pushing new Windows Phone 8 smartphones and Windows 8/RT tablets into a market currently dominated by Apple iOS-based iPhones and iPads, and Google Android-based mobile products. What at first glance seems like a troubling growth in the diversity and complexity of the mobile device landscape, however, holds some encouraging news for harried IT executives.

Although Microsoft is most visibly pushing the consumer features of its new-generation mobile platforms, the vendor is also attempting to appeal to IT executives by emphasizing a range of mobility device security and management capabilities. In addition to device-centric features such as encryption and improved app “sandboxing,” Microsoft is promoting the ability of IT shops to manage and secure Windows 8/RT and Windows Phone 8 devices using the same or similar tools as they have in place for managing Windows PCs.

With Microsoft’s established mobility competitors certain to respond with ramped-up management and security capabilities of their own, it shouldn’t be long before IT executives have access to a variety of new tools to help them tackle their two top mobility concerns.

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Research Brief: Mobile a higher priority than cloud or big data