The top 10 observations about Enterprise Mobility from Consumerization of IT research briefings.
Over the past few months, Unisys has been briefing Asia Pacific organizations on the findings of its second annual Consumerization of IT research report. We’ve conducted briefings with state and federal government departments, retail banks, insurance companies, property management companies, telcos, retailers and FMCG companies, but the response to the research findings and the challenges these organizations face when it comes to enterprise mobility are remarkably consistent, regardless of type or location of organization.
This is the second year we’ve run these briefings—often with the same organizations—and we’ve noted a marked difference in their readiness to embrace mobile devices and applications as business tools and the maturity of the discussions surrounding mobile technology implementation. Our top ten observations from more than forty briefings we have completed are:
Most organizations have moved past the ‘lock it out’ response we encountered last year. The IT departments now realize it’s nearly impossible to prevent employees from bringing mobile devices into the workplace, but not only that, the business can see benefits in allowing, or even encouraging, the use of these devices for employee productivity and interacting with customers/citizens. Aiding this change is the observation that organizations are less concerned about lost employee productivity. They aren’t as worried that employees are going to waste time playing games, browsing websites or using social media on the mobile devices during work hours because they expect that giving employees access to tools that let them work outside of business hours has productivity benefits.
Organizations are more open to the Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) approach, at least for select employee groups. This often starts with senior executives purchasing their own smartphones and/or tablets and asking the IT department to connect them to the network. However, while more BYOT is being allowed, few organizations we’ve briefed have yet given access to corporate systems beyond email, calendar and contact access so the devices are not yet being used to their full potential.
There are many instances of device procurement by the business occurring outside of the usual IT procurement channels. Business-line teams are buying company-owned devices from manufacturers or resellers directly, which means devices aren’t being captured in the usual IT asset registries and organizations have no visibility or control of the applications, data or security on the devices. Procurement teams are now trying to gain back some control to ensure devices are properly secured and the device lifecycle is managed, but also so that they can negotiate better deals with device and telco suppliers.
While there’s increased interest in enterprise use of mobile devices, organizations are challenged to building business case to support widespread deployment. They need to find the ‘killer app’ that will help them demonstrably improve employee productivity or make a business process more efficient.
The security of mobile devices, particularly those owned by employees, remains the primary concern of IT departments and is the key issue that is delaying enterprise usage. However, this year the organizations briefed are more aware of the technology and policy protection measures that can be taken to reduce security risk.
IT departments, particularly those in government and financial services organizations, want to retain control over the applications and data access on the device to reduce security risks and productivity loss. This is driving interest in the creation of public and private clouds to host data, enterprise app stores to control what applications employees can download, and enterprise cloud-based storage for backing up data.
There is greater recognition that IT policies need to be strengthened and more employee training is required to reduce risks related to misuse of mobile technology. Many organizations that allow BYOT ask employees to sign agreements to allow the organization to check data on the devices, monitor devices to ensure they have appropriate security tools in place, and conduct remote data wipes for lost, stolen or end-of-life devices.
Few organizations have begun creating or modernizing corporate applications for use on mobile devices by employees. Most have only enabled use of corporate email, calendar and contact lists, and a few standard business productivity applications that can be downloaded from an app store. However, several organizations we briefed are exploring simple information capture mobile applications to replace paper-based forms and systems. For example, a property management company is creating a property inspection form application for its inspectors. The inspectors will be able to complete the form on a tablet at the property, take photos with the device camera and attach them to form, and then upload the form to the database before moving onto the next property, whereas previously they would have to return to the office to provide the hand-written form to another person who would type the information into the database.
Cost and application development skills in the organization have been barrier to more application modernization. For some, an interim step has been to introduce a virtual desktop environment for the mobile device until the corporate applications can be modernised to take full advantage of the smartphone or tablet interface and functionality. The organizations we briefed are planning to standardize on one or two mobile operating systems to keep end user support and application modernization costs to a minimum.
For the small number of organizations briefed that have created mobile applications for their customers or citizens, most have started by taking a simple website function and enabling it for mobile devices (e.g. mobile banking or airline check-in functions). However, they are prioritizing application development for customer/citizen usage over employee usage.
We have observed considerable advances in the interest in and adoption of mobile technology in the past twelve months since we launched the first Consumerization of IT research report. Based on the feedback from Asia Pacific organizations, we expect to see greater advances, particularly in the adoption of BYOT programs and development of corporate mobile applications, in the year to come.