“Resistance is futile.” That’s the rallying cry of your mobile workers and professionals, armed with their iPads and Android smartphones, all vying for access to your corporate applications and data. In fact, these consumer devices have already infiltrated the workplace. The introduction of personally owned devices can drive security risks higher, make integration difficult and wreak havoc with end-user support. But with a bit of planning and careful consideration, the “bring your own device” (BYOD) trend can bring a host of benefits to your enterprise.
It may be tempting to ban the use of personally owned devices in your workplace, but IT policies that take a hard line are probably not be enforceable. As you might expect, many smartphone and tablet users will circumvent IT policy, putting the enterprise at greater risk. And here is something else to consider: You wouldn’t ask your employees to use mimeograph machines to make copies. Outdated technology tends to inhibit productivity and increase dissatisfaction—not exactly the environment that today’s innovative companies are striving to create, or that talented employees will tolerate for long.
So, how do you make this movement work for your organization? In other words, how do you allow choice while retaining control? You can take a methodical approach:
· First, assess users and your current environment, including current and planned devices and applications. A deep understanding of how mobility works today (or doesn’t) throughout your organization will help you get off on the right foot
· Use the assessment output to plan and design the right program for your organization -- one that balances the needs of your users (who’s in the field half the time, who needs access to CRM applications, etc.) with the constraints on your infrastructure and resources
· Kick off the implementation with pilots so you can leverage what you learn along the way while minimizing risk and business disruption. IBM has been building expertise and expanding internal mobility programs over time, tweaking as we go, and users are benefiting from the learning
· Establish, document and communicate acceptable use and other policies—especially to safeguard corporate data. Your legal department will love you.
· Plan for a more complex support burden. Although it seems allowing personally owned devices might make IT’s job easier, there will be more questions on set up, remote access and use of corporate applications and device problems—at least initially. You should plan to provide some level of end-user support in-house or outsourced to a knowledgeable provider, if only to help your workers remain productive and their devices highly available.
If enterprise mobility is a growing consideration, you’re in good company. Seventy-four percent of participants in the IBM 2011 CIO Study cited mobility solutions as the second “most important visionary plan element” behind business intelligence and analytics. And that reflected a 6 percent increase over last year’s study.
Chances are, mobile workers aren’t new to the mix in your organization. But the environment has changed rapidly, and you may be operating a mobility program that isn’t quite up to today’s challenges. You may have a program with limited users at either the task worker level or for executives with a single, corporate-issued smartphone. But you’re looking to roll out a broader program.
Let’s look at deployment from an end-to-end perspective, with the understanding that you might skip a few steps here and there depending on your situation. Or you might work with a services provider to manage the project.
First of all, be aware that the device itself is the least of your worries. The challenges in enterprise mobility come from the “hidden” costs and issues surrounding devices, such as end-user support, security, mobile applications and more. And more employees are bringing their own devices into the workplace.
As in any IT-driven project, you should have a proper assessment of both users and the environment, to develop a strategic plan and design. Consider these questions to start:
Mobile device procurement
Even with personally owned devices entering the workplace, you can still maintain control over enterprise device procurement—just do it differently. Self-service portals can allow users to choose from a catalog of pre-defined, pre-tested models—while you keep better track of order histories and pricing without daily involvement by procurement or IT. This helps smooth out global processes for greater consistency across your organization. And you might be able to leverage the buying power of a service partner.
Staging and kitting
“Dead-on-arrival” devices are productivity killers, but you don’t want your IT staff to spend valuable time coordinating packages and checking every device. Hand this over to a trusted partner to reconcile orders, test units and Gold images testing, bundle up the devices with accessories and instructions, and ship to users wherever they are.
Mobile device management
The key word: management. From asset tracking to pushing software application and configuration updates over the air, advanced mobile device management from an experienced provider can help enforce consistent security policies, provide more visibility through reporting and deliver end-user support. Your devices and your mobile employees stay more productive with a lessened burden on your IT staff.
When devices do break, you can get them offline and back on again more quickly when you’re working with a provider who can handle fixes quickly, returns to manufacturers, and remote provisioning.
IBM's2011Tech Trends Report is hot off the press! It includes data and insights from a survey of thousands of IT professionals worldwide on the topics of:
We'd like to share some of the key takeaways from the mobility part of the report.
Top platforms for mobile development
Survey takers were asked which mobile platforms they were planning development projects on within the next 24 months. Android was the leading mobile development platform by a sizable margin. However, iOS, Windows 7, and Blackberry also had a significant percentage of affirmative responses. The main takeaway is that a strong majority of IT professionals were planning to develop on some platform, and many on more than one platform.
IT professionals were also asked in what areas they would be focusing on in 2011. Overall, the focal areas were spread out across a wide range, with enterprise apps and industry-specific apps leading the way.
The main concerns IT professionals raised on mobility were on security/privacy (53%), and cost of development (52%).
Mobility is a movement, not a trend
While the title of the report may suggest it is about 'tech trends, mobility is more than a trend. Trends come and go, and can sometimes be ignored. Mobility, on the other hand, is more of a movement. Movements last for the foreseeable future. Companies need to get on top of movements eventually, and those that do so earlier will have a greater chance of succeeding. IBM's tech trends report is more evidence that companies must invest in mobility in order to stay competitive. At the same time, mobility has the potential to improve productivity and reduce costs if implemented well.
The tech trends report also contains interesting insights into the evolving fields of business analytics, cloud computing, and social business. For more detail on all four of these fields, you can download the 2011 IBM Tech Trends Report