Bad news for mobility maturity
Most IT organisations still feel poorly prepared to support an increasingly mobile workforce, according to recent research.
When you picture the 1980s, there’s a good chance that alongside the Walkmans, people in legwarmers and rollerskates, you’ll see someone in a suit using the Motorola Dyna TAC. Many images like that are now obsolete and thankfully mobile devices have come a long way since then too. Likewise, one would be forgiven for thinking that mobile strategies and deployments in modern businesses have, in this day and age, become so established as to barely warrant examination. However, as mobile devices and applications become increasingly advanced, challenges do remain, and there is still some way to go before enterprise mobility reaches full maturity.
In-demand new devices like the iPhone 6, for instance, can
create significant headaches for IT departments. Rolling out a new device and provisioning sophisticated enterprise apps for it are just some of the specific tasks that form part of an organisation’s broader enterprise mobility management (EMM) responsibilities. Above and beyond individual tasks, an all-encompassing enterprise mobility management philosophy is needed to empower the mobile workforce and remove any obstacles that hinder their productivity.
A new enterprise mobility management survey and whitepaper from Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), entitled Enabling Unified Endpoint and Service Management for a Mobile Workforce, sheds some light on the strategies needed to support an increasingly mobile workforce in modern enterprises. More than 200 IT professionals participated, from a diverse range of industries and regions worldwide, the results of which make for interesting reading for IT teams and employees alike.
A cause for concern was that only 15 per cent of organisations surveyed feel ‘fully prepared’ to support mobile requirements, despite the fact that 60 per cent consider mobile management to be important or critical to their business – a strong indication that businesses are struggling to provision adequate mobility management solutions.
The survey also revealed a number of noteworthy industry trends such as the growing desire for a unified approach to endpoint management, with more than 50 per cent indicating that they have a preference for a single solution that supports both mobile devices and PCs.
Some of the other interesting findings include:
- More than 80 per cent indicated that, in their organisation, some or all mobile devices may be used for both business and personal tasks
- 60 per cent indicated a preference for cloud-based EMM solutions, with small- to medium-sized businesses (between 500 and 1000 employees) overwhelmingly identifying cloud as the preferred approach (82 per cent)
- 87 per cent of enterprise users that regularly access computing devices to perform job tasks rely on both a PC (desktop or laptop) and at least one mobile device (smartphone or tablet).
Enterprise mobile policies
The survey found that enterprises have adopted a variety of policies for the distribution of mobile devices to their employees, to varying degrees of popularity, including:
- Business-only devices – the company selects and purchases all mobile devices used by employees
- Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) – the company purchases mobile devices for employees, but the users have the option of choosing which device best meets their needs
- Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) – the employees purchase their own devices, but are permitted to use them to access business resources, including applications, data, and other services
- Bring Your Own Applications (BYOA) – the employees purchase their own devices as well as any applications they wish to use to perform business tasks.
Overall, BYOD, CYOD, and business-only policies were each indicated by roughly a third of respondents, while BYOA was only reported by about two per cent. Also, BYOA was only noted by smaller organisations with less than 1000 employees and only by businesses in the technology and finance industries. This indicates a clear trend – while device purchase and ownership may vary between organisations, the applications used for business tasks are overwhelmingly being provided and supported by the enterprise.
It is important to note that, regardless of which mobile approach is adopted and whether the devices are business-owned or employee-owned, the broad majority of organisations allow devices to be used for both business tasks and personal tasks. Even among the enterprises that only allow business-owned devices to be used by employees, 71 per cent reported that they permit some or all of their devices to also be used to perform personal tasks. This underscores the need for enterprises to logically segment business resources from personal resources so that they can secure and manage the former without diminishing the performance of the latter.
Death of the PC?
We read a lot about the supposed ‘death of the PC’, but this research would suggest that its demise has been greatly exaggerated. 87 per cent of enterprise users who regularly access computing devices to perform job tasks rely on both a PC (desktop or laptop) and at least one mobile device (smartphone or tablet). It is clear that mobile devices are being adopted to supplement, rather than replace, the use of PCs. This has substantially increased the burden on IT operations to remotely support a wider number of heterogeneous platforms while reliably enabling access to critical business applications, data, and services and still meeting enterprise requirements for security and compliance. Although the majority of PC and mobile management solutions suites evolved along completely separate development paths, it is becoming clear that maintaining separate platforms is no longer a practical long-term solution.
In the kind of business environment revealed by these findings, in which users no longer have just one device but a plethora of devices to manage, Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) processes become essential. UEM solutions provide a common interface for performing administrative tasks on both PC and mobile devices as well as consolidated asset databases and reporting engines. The expectation is that a unified platform enables improved service management that will help boost user productivity and accelerate business agility.
Service desk teams will be familiar with many of the issues and trends mentioned above but the survey is certainly a timely reminder of the enterprise mobility issues that will face IT professionals and users alike throughout 2015. Likewise, it will be interesting to see how these trends develop in the next twelve months.