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April 23, 2015updated 22 Sep 2016 11:48am

10 challenges facing enterprise mobility in 2015

CBR rounds up views from Accenture, Citrix, Cisco, Oracle, The Open University, Kony, We Know Data, Checkpoint, AVG, Druva, MobileIron, Mendix, Progress, NETGEAR, ProjectPlace and Tangoe.

By Alexander Sword

Enterprise mobility can seem like a minefield sometimes, with many often conflicting goals presenting themselves all at once. CBR spoke to some of the experts in the field to round up some of the key challenges.

1. Security

Of all the gripes that adopters face with enterprise mobility, this is probably the most widely held. As Ben Salama, Global Connected Operations Lead at Accenture, comments:

"While the proliferation of the BYOD trend has brought many benefits for businesses from cost savings to productivity gains, for IT departments it has meant a security and compliance headache."

Perhaps it needn’t be a headache. Jason Tooley, UK country manager at Citrix, comments that:

"One of the main barriers to the adoption of BYOD strategies is the perception that it can lead security risks. Installing apps directly onto personally-owned devices can raise security and compliance concerns for a CIO that wants to keep corporate information secure – and an IT department that wants to retain control of IT usage.

"This is where enterprise mobility management solutions come in – harnessing desktop and app virtualisation can ensure all business information is where it should be – in the data centre – accessed by the people that need to access it, and not stored on an endpoint device that could get misplaced on the tube or stolen from a handbag.

"With a multitude of different workers, all potentially using different devices, focusing on managing apps, rather than devices, can tackle this potentially complex environment. A good mobile application management (MAM) solution offers flexibility – allowing IT to apply different policies for different apps, user types and mobility scenarios. More importantly however it offers a level of security for organisations while empowering workers to get the most out of their device of choice."

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Keith Bird, UK MD for Checkpoint, adds:

"As an attack vector, mobile probably provides direct access to more varied and valuable assets than any other individual attack vector. It’s also the weakest link in the security chain, giving attackers access to personally identifiable information, passwords, business and personal email, corporate documents, and access to corporate networks and applications."

2. Providing mobile data access…

However mobile your employees are, they always need to be rooted in access to the company’s data if they are going to be able to make informed and fast decisions.

Jordan Watson, FileMaker Developer at We Know Data, comments:

"Most companies now lay claim to mobile working, and in many cases provide it through iPad provisions and BYOD policies. However, to really work effectively, employees need access to the data that they have in the office. Most often, company data is kept in far too many places and stored too haphazardly to give workers proper access to it on the move.

"Staff exchanging emails with out of date attachments and promising updates when they are next connected to their business infrastructure is far from an efficient use of working time. It is only through live data access from mobile devices that you’ll really be able to remain effective as a business."

3. …but doing so securely

But it isn’t as simple as just ensuring employees can access the data. Druva CEO Jaspreet Singh explains that providing data access through mobile devices will create problems of its own.

"Protecting corporate data is nothing short of imperative and it is a big focus for C-level executives. The mobile workforce makes this more challenging for organisations, as they are taking more data out of the office, using multiple devices to access and store it, and working from networks that may be insecure or inconsistent.

"Organisations can leverage technologies to solve these issues while at the same time supporting the flexibility their mobile employees require. Enterprises must enable users to easily share data inside and outside the organisation with secure file sharing that’s integrated with backup and IT must have centralised management and data governance capabilities to provide full visibility into data use within the organisation."

This problem is just set to grow with the advent of wearables in the workplace, as MobileIron’s Director of Mobile Strategy, Brett Belding, explains:

"At face value, wearables offer an entirely new opportunity for cyber attacks and for data loss. It’s not hard to imagine that wearables (with far less sophisticated security frameworks) will make an attractive target for hackers.

"Because wearables may or may not be connected to corporate networks, IT should implement a service that allows documents to be secured at the file level. With this approach, the data remains secure even if the storage repository is breached."

4. Getting an application up and running…

Applications are a crucial part of any enterprise mobility strategy, but implementing an effective procedure for designing them can be tricky, as Mendix CTO Johan den Haan explains:

"In today’s BYOD world, one of the major hurdles to mobility cited by IT professionals is around multi-platform mobile app development and testing. Hence mobile application development backlogs continue to grow, impacting employee productivity, customer service and competiveness while key business initiatives continue to be delayed or abandoned altogether.

"The reason why there is such a chasm between demand for mobile apps and ability to deliver is the shortage of skilled resources that code-based development demands, particularly when it comes to supporting multiple mobile platforms and devices," den Haan adds. "A recent DZone survey revealed that the biggest pain points for mobile app development are building native apps for multiple platforms (50%), testing efficiently (53%) and lack of skilled mobile developers (40%)."

Burley Kawasaki, Senior Vice President of Products at Kony, adds that differing goals for designing the applications can provide another hurdle.

"Today’s IT departments are struggling to keep pace with the demands of their business to introduce mobile applications. CIOs are faced with the challenge of rapidly delivering mobile applications for their businesses, however one of the biggest hurdles is that business users, designers and developers don’t see eye to eye when it comes to user experience and interface design, which can cause costly delays and mobile app failures, leaving the business looking for a better answer."

Mark Armstrong, VP & MD EMEA at Progress, adds:

"While a mobile workforce has the capacity to be more efficient and more productive this is reliant on them being equipped with the right tools. A lot of focus is placed on the devices which employees are given – the latest and greatest iPhone or Android and tablets – but the real difference is the software and applications they use. Enterprise mobility hinges on being able to do everything on your mobile device that you could at your desktop: not just calls and emails.

5. …and keeping it up and running

Once you’ve got your application up and running, the ongoing process of running it will throw up additional problems. Suhas Uliyar, VP Mobile Strategy and Product Management at Oracle suggests that enterprises cast their eyes up to the Cloud for a solution:

"Poor performance and speed are deal-breakers for a company when it comes to their enterprise apps. While some businesses would argue that part of this lies out of their hands – as the strength of data networks is of course not their responsibility – it will fall to them to develop apps that fulfil employees’ requirements for functionality without being so clunky as to always require above average network connectivity to work.

"This may extend to providing users with some offline functionality or background synchronisation options in instances when network performance is lacking."

"For companies, integration with back-end systems will be critical to delivering on employees’ expectations around relevant in-app content and functionality, as well as performance. Developers will require access to business assets to develop high quality applications for end-users.

"By abstracting back-end functions in the cloud, businesses can free up their resources to simultaneously focus on front-end development and develop strong mobile business models."


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6. Providing a strong network backbone

Tris Simmons, Networking expert at NETGEAR, points out that regardless of the software and policy in place, any mobility strategy needs to be built on a solid network.

"A successful enterprise mobility infrastructure, must be underpinned by a reliable and robust network infrastructure. So, C-level executives need to consider which network design best suits both their current and future mobility requirements, particularly as technology capabilities are continually evolving.

"If organisations want to reap the benefits from a truly mobile workforce, they need to put in place the right wireless infrastructure to support mobile working, both in and out of the office environment."

7. Supporting a mobile workforce

Once challenge arising from creating a ‘remote’ workforce is that they will now also be more remote from central command, requiring new provisions for IT support. Mike Foreman, General Manager of AVG Business explains:

"As employees reap the benefits of the BYOD trend and the freedom to work where they want, the business organisation benefits from increased productivity. However, this brings numerous challenges for managing IT support, mobile devices and providing remote assistant to workers where needed due to multiple locations.

"To address this problem, IT managers require an easy-to-use, streamlined system that enables them to manage multiple users, across multiple locations all simultaneously."

8. Skill shortages

Andrew Smith, Lecturer in Networking at The Open University, believes the main problems don’t lie in technology, but in personnel and skills. He elaborates:

"The main challenge of enterprise mobility, as with most areas of IT, is finding the right skills. Networking and cyber security both suffer form a dire skills gap. Enterprise mobility means all sorts of different technologies are being integrated into existing networks and must work seamlessly and securely. This means we need professionals that can work with all manner of technologies, solving difficult problems often by repurposing existing systems.

"None of this goes beyond existing IT knowledge, but if we are to deliver mobility solutions successfully, we need people who understand the available technologies and how to integrate them. This means bringing more professionals with networking and security skills into the industry and training existing professionals with the skills to take on such challenges."

9. Cultural hang-ups

Much of the BYOD revolution was driven by the end-users. Cisco argues that C-levels need to take more leadership. Sarah Eccleston, Director, Enterprise Networks and IoT, Cisco UK and Ireland, argues:

"Cisco estimates that global mobile data traffic will see a 10-fold growth by 2019, reaching an annual run rate of 292 exabytes per year. The uptake in smartphones, tablets and wearable devices means enterprises are becoming increasingly mobile and fuelling this significant increase in data traffic. As a result businesses are now faced with the challenge to not only meet growing demand for data consumption, but to ensure that IT control and security is maintained across all mobile devices, apps, data and the ever expanding network.

"Not only is this a technical challenge, but a cultural one also. Positive change needs to be driven from the top, taking into account factors such as ease-of-use and mitigation against security threats such as privacy risks associated with malware or intellectual property, to ultimately deliver an enhanced end-to-end mobile experience. "

10. Managing employee expectations

Finally, don’t forget the whole reason we’re undergoing this fabled ‘BYOD’ revolution in the first place – the employees. Workers will increasingly demand a certain level of enterprise mobility and it is important that the company facilitates this. Tobias Andersson, COO of Projectplace, comments:

"The Workforce 2020 study predicts that the ability to work at any time and from anywhere is becoming a major factor in the business world, especially with more millennials joining and shaping the workforce. Companies need to ensure they keep up with the times and provide the technology that their workers need to complete their jobs, and keep their customers happy.

"If they don’t, they risk losing the loyalty of their customers and even more so, their best talent. Therefore, managers need to choose virtualised tools and systems that are designed to increase agility and accessibility amongst their teams, all while still giving them the control they need to plan and manage their own tasks."

Shane Stowells, EMEA Director for Tangoe, agrees:

"BYOD is not just devices, apps and finance management. To be successful, it requires policies and strategies. In turn, the success of these comes down to Expectation Management.

"Employees want to access their corporate email and/or network from a favourite device with minimal corporate oversight. Meanwhile, regardless of who owns the device, IT professionals need to protect enterprise data and IT infrastructure against misuse.

"Expectation Management is unfortunately usually overlooked until a tsunami of dissatisfaction hits, with a ripple effect of reduced productivity. Good BYOD policy requires that a company clearly states what it offers and expects from employees.

"For instance, the company should state the conditions for a device wipe. If personal data is kept on the device, it is always at risk since the company has the right to protect its infrastructure from any suspected malware attack – even in a BYOD organisation.

"The IT team of course needs to make sure it has the tools it needs to easily define and deploy packages, resolve platform, memory, and application dependencies. But the "flipside" is that employees must understand usage expectations, such as what apps are blacklisted and the guidelines for contingencies such as a partial and full device wipe."

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