• December 6, 2015

Thriving in a BYOD World: Three Steps To Enterprise Mobility

Stroll down any street, attend any business meeting or pop into any social venue and it is highly likely someone will be using the latest and greatest mobile device. Their spread has been dramatic and their uptake throughout the Asia Pacific and Japan region shows no sign of slowing. According to Forrester Research¹, “organizations [in the region] are also prioritizing the use of mobile channels to connect with external stakeholders such as customers and business partners, underscoring the region’s evolution toward the age of the customer.”

This massive upsurge in mobile computing and expectation of instant connectivity is reshaping the IT landscape with a blurring of the personal and professional environments. People are now using their own tablets, smartphones, as well as their ultra-portable laptops and traditional notebooks to access company systems and conduct business on the go.

According to Forrester, more than 50 percent of the information workforce use three or more devices for work² while Gartner is predicting by 2017, half of employers will require employees to supply their own device for work purposes³.

The ubiquitous nature of mobile computing is opening up new ways for businesses to grow market share, build customer intimacy, increase profit margins, as well as improve their image as a brand. Instant mobile access to information enables swifter response times and on-the-go decision-making to support customer service and improve employee and supplier relations. This in turn enhances productivity and improves business outcomes.

But in such a connected world, organizations are finding they no longer fully control the technology stack used by their employees, customers and suppliers. And that raises multiple challenges which must be addressed.

Enterprise mobility is more than just cool mobile devices

The move to enterprise mobility involves delivering anywhere, anytime access to people, applications and data on multiple personal and business devices.

While this increases productivity and efficiency, mobility also creates device and network security issues, as well as privacy concerns associated with having personal and company- owned data on the same device for organizations with mobile workers.

The associated costs of managing all these additional devices also require a new financial model. Decisions have to be made on how many and what type of devices are allowed, who pays for them, and whether help desk- support is provided.

These are serious considerations which demand a comprehensive enterprise mobility strategy which has wider implications than just cool devices and flashy user interfaces; it is an approach embracing strategy, policy, architecture, systems engineering, applications development and support services. With technology constantly changing, an enterprise-grade mobility platform must also be flexible enough to adapt to new devices and innovations.

There are three key steps organizations should take when developing a strategy to compete and prosper in this new connected, mobile world:

Step 1 – Establish enterprise mobility strategy and policies

Traditional IT models are highly controlled and monitored with individuals relying on companies to provide computing capabilities and network access. The deployment of applications to company–owned assets, such as a PC or BlackBerry, was straight-forward and the delivery of support processes was reasonably simple.

But it’s far more complex in the modern mobile environment where many of the former safeguards no longer apply or are inadequate. New policies need to be developed to tackle some key questions:

  • What is the overarching enterprise mobility strategy that drives this policy?
  • Who owns the device and pays for access – the company or the individual?
  • What are the risks of having company data on a personal device? Conversely how do enterprises protect the privacy of employee, customer and supplier data?
  • How does the enterprise enforce security, such as passwords or encryption, on a personally owned device?
  • How does the enterprise mitigate the risks of an employee losing a device?
  • Who is responsible for providing technical support and for what applications, for which devices?
  • What are the financial impacts and expected returns on investment of moving to this new end-user computing model?

Step 2 – Establish solid infrastructure

Building a solid foundational infrastructure to support enterprise-class mobile applications is essential and can be divided into three main areas:

The deployment model
This is one of the most critical decisions and is driven by security and privacy policies developed in Step 1. Applications can be either deployed:

  • In the native environment of the device with access to all its resources but constrained by the devices’ capabilities
  • Into an encrypted container on the device with access to selected capabilities plus resources within the container
  • On the device using a thin client. The applications use the capabilities of the server they run on rather than the computing resources of the device

Network architecture and security policies
Firewall rules and network security policies in most organizations are designed to support web-based applications using perimeter-based defense structures. However, this approach is no longer adequate to deal with employee-owned mobile devices that can potentially access an organization’s core network behind the corporate firewall.

Organizations need to consider various scenarios when making changes to their network architecture. This may include control measures for access to the intranet, company-owned applications, data from home, public access points and from within the enterprise using either personal or company-owned mobile devices.

Collaboration infrastructure
This focuses on workplace capabilities such as corporate intranets and extranets, email, instant messaging, microblogging, and social networking and is heavily influenced by enterprise security requirements. Collaboration infrastructure presents some unique challenges as enterprises must be able to track the use of corporate assets, while respecting the privacy of individuals, both from within and outside the enterprise firewall. This must also be balanced with users’ access to enterprise data both at work and in a remote environment.

Step 3 – Establish the architecture

Organizational decisions taken in Step 2 will influence the shape of the architecture needed to support enterprise- class mobile applications. Priorities include:

Security – The architecture should have mobile device end point security built into the device via end point network intrusion protection, virus scan and password policies from the beginning. This will provide peace of mind to corporate IT and compliance teams.

Mobile application architecture – A major shift from monolithic solutions built around a particular business process to multiple, applications with smaller memory footprints that are designed around the specific use cases.

Visualization and information architecture – User-computer interaction is being transformed by the rich user interfaces delivered by mobile devices. Mobile applications need to adapt new models for visualizing data and use the unique hardware, display and user interaction capabilities to provide context-aware experiences.

Integration architecture – A rethinking of the integration architecture is also required to fully enable enterprise applications for mobility. The new architecture must be scalable and capable of handling thousands of low latency micro-transactions, interface with an array of new technologies and support complex event processing in real-time.

Testing and quality assurance – Business applications should be deployed through an enterprise app store which tests for compatibility across different personal and company-owned devices and at least the five major operating systems and device capabilities – for example, some devices may only be able to receive and send messages. The store should also support wireless updates for applications, handle remote-wipes and de- registration of devices when they are either lost or compromised.

Enabling a safe journey to enterprise mobility

In today’s new mobile world enabled by near-universal connectivity options and a multitude of mobile devices, organizations have an opportunity to do business at any time, from anywhere and through any network. It’s a transformation that is radically changing the way organizations interact with customers, employees and partners.

Connectivity is now a necessity for enterprises that recognize it enables faster, more accurate and efficient business operations. But a clear, all-encompassing strategy is needed to address the many challenges. This comprehensive approach will help ensure a smooth journey to true, robust enterprise-class mobility solution.

1. Forrester Research, Inc.: “The Enterprise Mobility Outlook For Asia Pacific In 2014”, January 2014
2. Forrester Research, Inc.: “Info Workers Will Erase The Boundary Between Enterprise And Consumer Technologies”, August 2012
3. Gartner “Bring Your Own Device: The Facts and the Future”, April 2013