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April 2, 2015

A C-level’s guide to enterprise mobility: it’s the human touch

Perhaps technology can only get you so far.

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The global enterprise mobility market was recently projected to reach US$50.7 billion by 2020 in a report by Global Industry Analysts. As the market matures, the imperative to C-level executives to act gets stronger by the day. As Jon Nowell, Head of Product Management at TalkTalk Business says, it is not a question of if, but when:

"C-level executives ultimately must embrace mobility solutions from top to bottom within the enterprise…however, the IT department cannot implement a successful mobility strategy alone; they require full C-level backing, to ensure enterprises collaboratively embrace such solutions, and provide the right tools to drive organisational productivity."

A good enterprise mobility strategy needs to focus on tackling a range of issues, some of which will be very specific to the individual organisation. However, there are some fundamental guidelines that all businesses can abide by, and interestingly, they mostly focus not on technology, but on people.

Put the right tools in the hands of the right people

"It’s not about the device, it’s about the people," summarises Alistair Wildman, MD for End-User Computing at VMware, EMEA. "People think that a mobile project is buying iPads to give out to the executives. They’ve done that, so what next? How about putting something useful on them?"

This sentiment is echoed by Tim Patrick Smith, CIO of Getronics, who comments:

"Businesses must recognise that email and simple communications tools are no longer enough; BYOD means new apps and devices are being used across all areas of the organisation and must be supported if a successful mobility policy is to be achieved."

Enterprises must focus on adding value to the employees’ use of devices.

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"Mobility is about people and the way they work," Wildman adds. "People want to work at the speed of life, not the speed of the IT organisation."

This is all well and good, but how to ascertain what the right tools are and who needs them? Unfortunately for IT professionals, this isn’t necessarily their area of expertise. Stuart MacDonald, Director at Velocity, believes HR departments have a vital role to play in helping IT to personalise solutions.

"Mobile is about changing the way people work and you need to look beyond the realm of IT and engage both HR and Facilities to forge real competitive advantage," he says.

"Consider who would benefit most from improved responsiveness, increased collaboration and productivity. Be engaging, ask them where and how they would like to work. It’s a powerful way to gain valuable insights and lay down vital foundations in mobile acceptance.

 

Think about the user experience

The point of enterprise mobility is that it is about what people are demanding anyway. The reason people use their own devices is because it is easy, intuitive and often enjoyable. Policies will gain no purchase if IT is just obstructing users rather than enabling them.

"User experience is the critical thing," Wildman continues. "Far too many projects fail because the users don’t accept the technology. You need users involved from day one."

Yad Jaura, Western Europe marketing director at Globo, adds: "Today’s generation have grown up with smartphones and smartphone apps which are all about making the user experience easy, fun and enjoyable. Suddenly introduce a clunky, hard-to-use enterprise app and they’ll walk away."

"The next generation workforce, as well as the current, expects to be able to access the same level of IT irrespective of the location," says TalkTalk Business’s Nowell.

 

Find the right focus for your security policy

George Anderson, Director at Webroot, advises executives to divide security into three core steps: device control policies, device level security and mobile workforce security training. Through controlling access to the devices through policy, securing the devices themselves through passwords and screenlocks, and training the workforce in security matters, organisations can get a grip on security.

"Whilst sophisticated software is an integral part of any cybersecurity program, human error is one of the weakest points in any organisation’s security infrastructure," says George Anderson.

Again, perhaps it’s about the human touch. Keith Posyer, EMEA MD at Accellion, believes that the key to enterprise mobility security is balancing security with usability.

"Smartphones have, for some time, been seen as Trojan Horses for the enterprise, with malware and data breaches an inevitable consequence," he says. "The truth is, however, that the handsets themselves do not pose a significant threat to security, a fact that is sometimes conveniently overlooked.

"The problem is that employees have become so accustomed to using consumer applications in their everyday life, and they now expect to be able to bring them into the enterprise. It’s important to remember, however, that these consumer-focused apps are not fit for purpose in an enterprise environment.

"Businesses have to provide employees with their own, approved enterprise-class applications that are both trustworthy and secure enough to aid productivity. Too often we see employee dependency on consumer applications, like DropBox or Google Drive, at the root of security vulnerabilities within organisations."

He concludes: "Now is the time for enterprises to nip the issue in the bud by standardising the software that employees are allowed to use and providing secure mobile content access."

Others disagree, arguing that the best solution to security lies in technology rather than policy. Thorsten Trapp, CTO for tyntec, believes in the potential of virtual phone numbers.

"Given the myriad of devices that employees bring to their enterprise ecosystem, using virtual phone numbers as unique identifiers to power enterprise communication applications makes a compelling case," he comments.

"Virtual phone numbers allow employees to make calls and send texts from the (virtual) office number no matter what mobile device they’re using or where they are, and all while keeping their personal number private," Trapp adds.

 

Mobility as a business tool

At a basic level, it is also important to consider how you can monetise your employees’ use of mobile in the workplace. Todd Thibodeaux, CEO at CompTIA, believes that businesses should be aware of how mobility can align with their business goals across the board. He cites potential increases in productivity as well as the potential to cut IT costs, particularly with reference to employees of Generation Y, often described as ‘digital natives’.

"The democratisation of IT means that the IT department is no longer the sole custodian of technical knowhow and their responsibilities can be shared among the rank and file, enabling companies to dramatically cut costs," Thibodeaux comments.

He adds: "CompTIA found that 20% of 20-something workers want to update and troubleshoot their own work IT devices on the move; businesses can use this to slash IT support costs by giving every employee responsibility for updating their own devices and replacing traditional IT support with remote support."

"Businesses can turn Gen-Y’s attachment to mobile devices into a tool to boost work-rate beyond the office walls empowering employees to ‘work-on-the-move’ and replace expensive offices, physical servers and fixed desktops with roaming devices and virtual servers."

 

Overall, while the enterprise mobility revolution in the workplace started with technology, it is to people that C-levels must turn their attention if they are to succeed.

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