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March 22, 2017

Productivity and profit: Is your mobility strategy mature enough?

“What’s my mobility strategy?” It’s a question that keeps many CIOs awake at night.

By Ellie Burns

In today’s era of dispersed workforces, device options, file-sharing and remote collaboration apps, and increasing numbers of staff choosing to work from home, every business or organisation needs a meaningful and up-to date enterprise mobility strategy that covers these issues. But to put such a strategy in place, it must deal with the challenge of how to achieve a practical balance between staff productivity and security.

On the one hand, employees want to access important apps and data anytime and anywhere, on a range of devices – smartphone, tablet, or laptop – in order to work more flexibly and to improve their productivity. But organisations must also protect themselves and their networks against the rising number of security threats that increasingly target mobile devices and the sensitive data they contain or can access.mobility maturity

Once organisations address this dilemma, there is the fundamental business question of whether a mobility strategy is worth the investment. If it can be shown to improve productivity without compromising security, is there a commercial benefit: and if so, does greater investment mean greater benefit?

To help answer these questions, earlier this year Synchronoss Enterprise commissioned a study of 500+ enterprises in the US and UK enterprises that identifies the key features that define an organisation’s “mobility maturity” – fundamentally the breadth, level and functionality of its enterprise mobility adoption, and the benefits and advantages it enjoys as a consequence.

The findings were framed into a four-stage “Mobility Maturity Model”: Entry Level, Opportunistic, Additive and Transformational. The progress of each company through the model was determined according to their degree of use of productivity tools, their use of data from these tools and other sources, and the security measures implemented.

Overlaid on top were each business’s productivity, its current profitability and the perceptions of the CIO’s performance. Would greater mobility maturity mean greater profitability, productivity or a boost to the internal reputation of the CIO?


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A lack of progress

Firstly, the results showed a surprising lack of progress of advanced mobility. More than a third (38%) of enterprises still only use mobility solutions for basic tools like email, PIM and calendar. They don’t collect any data on how employees use their devices, simply relying on Telecoms Expense Management (TEM) data at best . Perhaps more significantly, these firms have no requirement in place to secure staff’s devices: despite the broad range of mobile security threats – from malware hidden in email and apps on a device, to the loss or theft of the device itself.

These enterprises occupy the first stage of the Maturity Model, the “Entry Level”, and are 15% less productive and 29% less profitable than those with advanced mobile capabilities, such as file-sharing apps, collection and analysis of data, app integrations and multi-factor authentication.


Profitable evolution

The study classified the next 43% of firms in the survey as “Opportunistic”. These organizations had surpassed the Entry Level community by implementing dedicated file-sharing tools, compulsory use of PINs and passwords on devices, and collecting and analyzing (on a limited basis) device usage data.

The final 19% were classified as being within the “Additive” stage of the maturity model, due to their integration of apps – including their own in-house proprietary ones – plus their creative use of mobile contextual data, such as location and app usage, to actively improve business processes. These companies also required multi-factor authentication and secure data transmission to safeguard their devices and the data on them.

Productivity and profit: Is your mobility strategy mature enough

In addition to the finding that the “Additive”-stage companies were on average 15% more productive than those at “Entry Level”, and also 29% more profitable, it appeared that the simple step from “Entry Level” to “Opportunistic” – i.e. first stage to second stage – delivered the greatest and quickest performance improvements.

Simply by introducing file-sharing tools, monitoring usage data and requiring at least native OS security measures to be in place on the device, enterprises see a 9% profitability improvement and 7% productivity boost.


Virtuous circle

Productivity doesn’t come from the availability of mobility tools alone. For example, collecting contextual data from employees’ devices lets a company make informed, deliberate changes that improve its operations and processes. The company can also use this same data to strengthen its user ID verification and boost security. How? Interactions within the device’s contextual norms can remove the need for further verification steps – reducing user friction – while deviations can trigger additional verification requirements. And once such heightened security is in place, the more capabilities or data sources an organization can confidently add to the device, in turn improving productivity.

The findings of this study underline the case for companies to dedicate investment to their enterprise mobility strategy and speed up their progression through the maturity stages and the virtuous circle described above. Until now, the benefits of enterprise mobility have been anecdotal or theoretical. But this study shows that those who commit to a more mature approach and invest in advanced mobility tools, ones which balance efficiency with security, benefit from double-figure improvements in productivity, which in turn contribute to significant profitability gains.

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