The Transformative Role of Mobile Devices in an Enterprise Network

By CIOReview | Friday, June 24, 2016
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Mobility is already bringing in the paradigm shift in work culture, with the increased use of smartphones and tablets for business activities. However, with more devices entering into organizational network, the associated challenges are on the rise. To address the specific concerns such as security, end-user convenience, and efficiency, companies should opt for an Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution with extensive platform coverage.

Mobile Enterprise—an Innovative Approach to Business Communications

The rapid proliferation of smartphones has provided continuous access to information, which is changing our perception of connectivity in the modern office environment. Increasing number of CIOs look toward technology in aiding their business tasks thus paving way for mobility to make inroads into their workspace. With 6.8 billion mobile devices in use today, people are connected to each other for virtual exchanges from different geographic locations around the world. Therefore, integrating smart devices with various departments of an organization will simplify the communication experience, adding to improved productivity.

A typical Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution binds together Mobile Device Management (MDM), Mobile Application Management (MAM) and Mobile Information Management (MIM). MDM administers the mobile devices in the network, MAM takes care of the software and services controlling apps, whereas MIM regulates the application access to company data.

• Mobile Device Management (MDM)

It deals with the deployment and integration of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, while simultaneously securing the enterprise network. MDM software should allow seamless distribution of applications, data, and configuration settings for the devices forming part of the network. It should also permit administrators to be in full control of the mobile devices and desktop computers alike. Ideally, an MDM tool should be compatible with various mobile device platforms and apps, it should be easy to implement, and must readily deploy hardware and operating platforms.

Due to budget constraints, company size, and local market conditions, data management experts suggest a hosted MDM platform for small to medium sized companies, which can later be upgraded to an in-house facility. Features such as subscription-based pricing in a hosted MDM allow companies to focus more on core business activities. However, enterprises should consider going for trial methods to test out the implementation of MDM on mobile devices. Trials can be helpful in providing deeper insights, such as clearing misconceptions related to the integration of personal devices with the MDM platform and the like. The choice of an MDM tool should purely be based on the organizational requirements, as it is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

• Mobile Application Management (MAM)

MDM and MAM are two of the widely accepted technologies enabling secured use of smartphones and tablets in an enterprise. They have different use cases with some overlapping features, and most of the vendors are combining the two technologies into single products. Even though MDM approach of securing devices involves real time monitoring capabilities, MAM provides more fine-drawn controls. It manages only those apps that are specifically developed to work with a particular MAM product. With MAM, a user may be prompted for credentials while accessing corporate intranet but he may not require the same to open personal apps.

It is essential to know if an MAM suite can efficiently manage the types of devices that will form a part of the company’s network. For example, a ‘backup and restore’ app provided by the company should go well with all the major device platforms such as Android, iOS, and Windows. MAM should also integrate with the existing business tools and those supplied by third party vendors.

• Mobile Information Management (MIM)

MIM is a device agnostic security strategy that encrypts sensitive information and allows it to be handled only by the approved applications. It differentiates between various sources of information and interprets policies or permissions that a data carries. For MIM vendors the primary challenge is to coordinate with the device manufacturers in order to establish an integrated medium for data transmissions. Often, MIM is banded together with MAM and MDM when it comes to matters concerning security.

What Works Best: BYOD or CYOD?

Companies by taking into account the choices and preferences of their employees offer two different methods for handling communications—Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or Choose Your Own Device (CYOD). With BYOD policy, employees have the authority of bringing their personally owned devices to the workplace and access company information and applications. However, in the CYOD model organizations allow employees to pick mobile devices from a limited number of options. As many of the firms that established BYOD policies are experiencing security issues, CYOD has become a preferred option for most of the companies. Management issues with BYOD can range from tracking various operating systems at a time to securing the network from hundreds of applications used by employees. CYOD on the other hand gives employees the freedom to use a device they know how to handle, but cuts down the options to a pre-approved list.

Know the Score before You Take Your Pick

As part of a survey, McKinsey interviewed around 250 CIOs from around the world. Out of them, 56 percent backed the employee demands for supporting a wide range of devices and almost everyone expected to deploy more than 25 mobility applications in the next two years. Undoubtedly, the productivity gains and business benefits are the main reasons for such positive reviews from CIOs on enterprise mobility. They found mobility to be more desirable for sales activities or in cases where companies depend on field operations to serve end consumers. In a report published by Profitable Channels, companies that have adopted to the use of mobile technologies are seeing far-reaching business benefits from their investments in mobile enabled sales programs. It showed significant changes in areas like revenue growth and customer experience. The productivity gains of enterprise mobility are not just limited to sales departments. Other sections of the organization such as Human Resource, Marketing, and Operations can also reap benefits from the use of enterprise apps. Although, Enterprise Mobility comes with countless benefits, a few aspects need to be looked upon before making the selection of an EMM tool.

Fixing the right tool set does not depend purely on the extra features that vendors offer, but rather on those best-suited features that align with the organization’s requirements. "There is no particular list of what's important and what's not. It's all about your use case," says Philippe Winthrop, global mobility evangelist at Computer Sciences Corp. Therefore, the choice of going for a support BYOD or company owned phones depend purely upon the organization’s discretion. It is also important to have an understanding of the types of devices to be managed, and whether these devices will be provided only to employees or even to the business partners and customers. If the company has more number of employees traveling frequently to destinations abroad, features such as geo-fencing can be helpful for staying in compliance with the country’s privacy regulations. Check if the EMM suite is capable of supporting other wireless endpoint devices such as scanners and printers. In light of the rapidly changing mobile technology, it is best to look for a solution that has the resources and flexibility to adapt to changes.

Trends that will Shape the Future of Enterprise Mobility

• Enterprises now prefer CYOD (Choose Your Own Device) instead of BOYD (Bring Your Own Device) as it brings down complications related to device management.

• In 2016, companies will focus more on user identification and authentication as proper identity management is likely to reduce privacy concerns.

• Custom made apps will find a prominent place in enterprises resulting in increased productivity. Apart from that, business-to-customer-application development will also get an upsurge.

• Internet of Things (IoT) will be among the greatest steps taken in enterprise mobility for the year 2016

• Mobile applications will tend to be oriented more towards big data and cloud technology.