The trend towards mobility is definitely here to stay and in a 2010 Bloomberg Businessweek article research suggested that while 84 percent of mobile employees currently access company email from a mobile device, the figure will balloon to 100 percent in 2012, meaning that having a robust mobility strategy is key to success in the future.
However, as with any new strategy there are always common pitfalls that we must overcome. According to David Goldschlag in his article "How CIOs can Encourage Innovative Enterprise Mobility - Top Mistakes to Avoid" there are five common mistakes many CIOs make as they implement an enterprise mobility strategy.
Mistake #1: IT secures all the laptops but ignores the smart phones.
Mistake #2: IT implements mobility without a policy or strategy.
Mistake #3: IT selects a single vendor to secure both their laptops and smart phones.
Mistake #4: Users replace their corporate-issued smart phone with the “latest and coolest” device.
Mistake #5: Users circumvent smart phone controls by hard resetting their devices.
In his article Goldschlag does suggest some solutions to these issues. However, I believe that in order to be successful with mobile there are some more fundamental factors to consider. The four factors I would recommend further investigation into as part of any CIOs mobility agenda would include:
Security is probably one of the foremost areas of concern when looking at an enterprise mobility strategy. As employees are able to access company sensitive data from a wider variety of devices, the organization is opening itself up to more and more vulnerabilities, in particular if the organization does not have control of who is accessing what and from where. Therefore making sure that your organization has a robust security strategy in place is a precursor to mobility. Key questions to ask include:
- Have the applications being run on mobile devices been checked for security vulnerabilities?
- Can I effectively detect attacks initiated from a mobile device?
- Do I have control over what data is shared via a mobile device?
Organizations need to understand that data will be consumed differently via a mobile device. When building applications for mobile non-functional requirements such as screen resolution, font size, graphics colors, etc., become even more important. Things to consider are that consumers are only likely to leverage your mobile applications if they:
- Provide some sort of relative advantage. This is almost inherent in the nature of mobile applications as they allow you to conduct your work on-the-go.
- Are easy to use. Since consumer orientated applications were the forerunners for mobile apps (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) business users expect business applications to be as easy to use as their personal applications. If they are not the likelihood of them using the app will diminish.
- Perform. When an app is running on a mobile device, by default users expect the performance to be instantaneous. For example, I can make a phone call in a matter of seconds so I should be able to access my app in seconds also.
Users will not expect to be restricted in their ability to access an application. In other words they will expect their business applications to be OS independent and work on their Blackberry, their iPad, iPhone, Palm and their traditional PC also. For an organization this means that you will either have to support all of these OS, or you can decide on an OS and restrict access. If the “all OS” approach is the preferred way then defining a platform strategy for how these apps will be maintained on an ongoing basis is even more important.
Just like with infrastructure and software, organizations will need to put in place an effective asset management strategy for their mobile devices. Having such a system in place will help ensure that you can make effective sourcing decisions based on business data and device usage; you can track where mobile users are non-compliant and have not installed the correct software to make the device “secure” for company use and in the event of a security breach the company will know who and which devices need to be “disconnected” from their environment.
If these factors are not considered the effort (time, cost and money) put into developing your mobile applications will have been wasted and your mobile strategy may have ended before it ever really began. Therefore, at least investigating these four pillars should provide a starting block to an enterprise mobility strategy…. It would be interesting to hear what factors have made you a success with your mobility strategies to date.