By Nirmit Glennon, ManageEngine
"Going mobile" seems to be the mantra of modern day enterprises, with 63 percent of them believing that mobility leads to competitive advantage. Their belief is not without cause, as a recent survey by Nielson reports that 93 percent of consumers who research products via mobile go on to make the purchase while 55 percent of them make the purchase within an hour.
If this wasn’t reason enough for businesses to jump on the mobility bandwagon, high operational efficiency coupled with increased employee productivity and customer loyalty paint a compelling picture.
With the enterprise mobility market size expected to reach the $140 billion mark in 2020 at a CAGR of 15 percent, businesses all over the world are sparing no costs on enterprise mobility. Going mobile, however, comes with its own set of challenges. What are these challenges and how can your organization overcome them?
Finding the Right Mobile Devices
Employees increasingly rely on mobile apps to bolster their productivity. If mobile devices do not support the current and in-the-works apps or if they are not easy to use, employee dissatisfaction can lead to decreased productivity and push your organization’s move toward enterprise mobility on a downward spiral.
Also, some devices are not able to encrypt data either on the device itself or over the air. These devices are liable to data breaches and pose a security threat to the organization.
Hence, the IT team needs to test business apps on a few preferred devices (chosen based on business requirements), ensure there are no performance or security issues and narrow down on the device best suited for the needs of your organization.
Keep an eye on the future. While choosing the right device, take into account the evolution of technology and business demands in the enterprise mobility industry over the coming years.
Scaling up for Mobile Devices
Employees access the company’s network through multiple mobile devices and, as the number of employees increase, so does the number of devices and the apps that run on them. This puts a lot of strain on network bandwidth and affects the performance of business-critical apps.
Also, with 4.3 percent of company-issued smartphones lost or stolen every year, the IT team faces the hassle of providing replacement devices with the prerequisite apps to employees ASAP to avoid loss of productivity.
The IT team needs to monitor real-time network bandwidth consumption, prioritize network traffic and reconfigure bandwidth (traffic shaping) if necessary. Also, organizations should put in place policies for swift replacement of lost/stolen/broken devices and ensuring the replacement devices have all the necessary apps installed.
Organizations will benefit by incorporating into their IT environments an effective mobile device management tool that provides a single platform to monitor and manage different categories of devices -- such as tablets and smartphones -- from multiple locations in real time.
Mobile Security and Privacy
Securing the mobile devices through a strong password and having policies for data isolation in the event of a loss/stolen device is but a small step toward securing the data on it. Data can also be lost when an employee copies information from a business app to a consumer app.
IT teams need to partition personal data from corporate data to prevent data loss and also enable employees to seamlessly switch between personal and professional use. It is important to ensure that the user experience does not take a hit in the pursuit of security and privacy.
Complying with the privacy regulations of different countries every time an employee travels to offices abroad can get cumbersome for organizations. However, with the geofencing feature, enterprises can now facilitate device management policy changes based on the GPS location of the employee’s phone.
A stolen/lost mobile device with access to business apps poses a huge security threat. Policies to ensure immediate isolation of the device from the company’s network and sensitive business information should be put in place. Unauthorized access can be prevented by setting up multi-factor authentication and encrypting data streams.
Managing Mobile Apps
Mobilizing legacy applications and getting them to co-exist with mobile apps is a challenge, with 37 percent of businesses believing that legacy systems unfit for mobile devices are a barrier to mobility initiatives. This is where application refactoring, the process of improving software coding without altering its intended functions, comes into the picture.
As your organization embraces mobility, IT support will be under the scanner to avoid costly downtime as employees will access business apps after hours, on weekends and even while on a vacation. The availability of IT support for real-time monitoring and incorporating effective troubleshooting procedures is indispensable.
Enterprises need to have a centralized platform to deploy multiple types of mobile applications (native, Web or hybrid) and for automating patches and upgrades in any number of devices, be it iOS, Android or Windows. Also, end users should be able to self-install business apps approved by their organizations.
Now that you are aware of the major challenges in your organization’s path toward enterprise mobility, go ahead, untangle them and enjoy the ride as your business motors ahead of your competitors on the highway to efficiency.
Nirmit Glennon is a product consultant at ManageEngine, a division of Zoho Corporation, where he actively follows the IT management industry and helps organizations address the challenges they face in managing their IT. You can found out more on the company blog and/or on Facebook and on Twitter at @ManageEngine.