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November 21, 2014

Mobility readiness poses huge challenge to UK IT departments

Responsibility for mobile policy pushed between users and IT as security cited as major issue

By Vinod

It takes an average of two weeks for IT departments in the UK to equip staff and get them up and running with the mobility tools and applications they need to do their jobs.

However, the UK is ahead of its European counterparts, with France taking an average of three weeks, and Italy taking four.

Research by Vanson Bourne, commissioned by VMware explores the implications this lack of mobile readiness brings across the business, as it impacts both IT departments and employees.

Just 12 per cent of IT departments, for example, believe they have all the mobile management capabilities to support staff’s mobile needs, while nearly a third (28 per cent) cannot control access to company information from all employee mobile devices.

Exploring this further, the research questioned both IT and employees on where responsibility should lie for mobile working policies. It found that IT departments across the UK are undecided on the issue; only 40 per cent believe it’s their responsibility to restrict employees’ access to mobile tools and applications outside of working hours, yet 33 per cent feel under pressure to do this and 48 per cent admit that it’s now become necessary.

"With the pace of business today, taking two weeks to equip staff with the tools they need to work isn’t a viable option for organisations looking to survive and thrive in the mobile cloud era", comments Brian Gammage, Chief Market Technologist, VMware. "Any delay in getting employees functioning at full speed may lead to businesses handing over competitive edge to others. Organisations need to empower employees to collaborate with whoever they require, from any location, at any time, while minimising security risks."

Employees, meanwhile, are more decided on the issue. Three quarters of UK employees (71 per cent) do not agree that their employer should restrict access to mobile apps and tools. As it stands, the vast majority (78 per cent) state they do not yet have full access to the mobile tools needed to work as productively as they can, while more than a quarter (27 per cent) would circumvent the IT department to obtain the mobile tools needed to get the job done – demanding greater mobile enablement from the business, rather than further restrictions.

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"The phrase ‘freedom within boundaries’ has never been more appropriate as the explosion of mobile devices and applications disrupts both end-user expectations and functional structures," continues Gammage. "Organisations cannot afford any ambiguity over who takes charge of mobile applications and tools in the business. Many employees now expect to make the decision of how they work, so the challenge for IT is to cater to this, while also retaining adequate control over how information assets and business processes are used. This must be done centrally, in order to secure data, and not have business best practices compromised in any way.

"The good news is that technology is ready to do this today: VMware enterprise mobility solutions are helping organisations like Hertz and TUI transform how they enable users to work – providing secure, immediate access to the resources they need. To translate this potential into reality, many more businesses will need to embrace such solutions."

Other findings included:
– IT departments cite implementing security policies to control access (74 per cent agree this is a major challenge), justifying return on investment (55 per cent and a lack of employee trust (37 per cent) as the practical challenges they face when equipping staff with the mobile tools and applications needed.
– Education and understanding within organisations also emerged as hurdles to overcome. Just 15 per cent of employees state their organisation’s policies and processes for cloud/mobile usage make complete sense to them, possibly as a result of it being nine months since the average EMEA business updated and shared its mobile policy with staff.

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