Key Technical Considerations for Implementing Your Mobile Solution

Technology in the handsA lot of companies launch devices, build or buy mobile apps, or enter into mobility-related contracts without thinking about how those pieces fit into the greater whole. The result? The new stuff may be exciting for employees, but it doesn’t work well within existing environments and/or support long-term goals. Those companies are sacrificing efficient use of resources for a short-term productivity boost.

Just as with any other area of business, getting it right in the mobility space requires planning. Smart companies take into account not only device and app choices, but also infrastructure and management considerations before implementing mobile solutions.

Before delving into the nitty-gritty, consider taking a few key steps:

  • Think about how mobility fits into your overall business strategy. What are your objectives and requirements? By linking mobility directly to your business strategy, you’ll focus on the right long-term solutions and budget avenues.
  • Conduct a mobile platform risk assessment to understand potential risks and see which could be showstoppers and which have workarounds.

Devices. For a lot of companies, it is easy to decide which devices to use. And the growing momentum of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend may remove some decisions altogether. You may want to raise the following issues prior to adopting a BYOD policy:

  • What level of risk does your particular company assume by letting corporate data live on personal devices?
  • What is the right balance between usability and security? How much do you want to lock down devices? What are the right security solutions (e.g., Network Access Control) to protect data while still allowing usability for your employees?
  • What do you need in order to support a variety of devices, platforms, and operating systems?
  • Does your budget cover security for solutions in a BYOD environment? If not, what sorts of investigation and assessment efforts are needed to make the right financial decisions for your organization?

Apps. With 50 billion downloads in six years from the Mac App Store and 48 billion downloads in even fewer years from the Google Play store, it’s clear that it’s all about the apps. And the growth of business-focused apps has just begun. Ask yourself a few questions to make effective app choices:

  • How will your business-critical data be used on mobile devices?
  • Have you conducted an application risk assessment to understand how and where your data is protected and, again, to determine the right balance between usability and security?
  • Are you going to use off-the-shelf, browser, and/or custom-developed apps?
  • How will you support employees as they use those applications?
  • If you’re leaning toward custom development, what platforms, development cycles, budget requirements, and support mechanisms should you put in place?
  • Do you want to take advantage of application security features, such as app wrapping (where you can dedicate specific requirements around existing applications) or custom APIs (where you can designate tasks, such as secure data transport, remote application control, and single sign-on)?
  • What sort of workflow will you follow to purchase, deploy, and update applications for your corporate and/or BYOD mobile devices?

Infrastructure. As you drill down into your mobility strategy and solutions, it will be important to look into the IT infrastructure requirements necessary to properly support them. Mobility projects often start small and quickly grow to take up a major slice of the infrastructure pie. Understanding which mobile solutions easily scale and which come with additional budget and infrastructure requirements is part of identifying the full cost of a solution:

  • Can your company support fully hosted/cloud solutions, or do you require high-security on-premises solutions?
  • Do you have the necessary IT staff and resources to support your desired mobile solutions?
  • Do you have a content management strategy for your mobile workforce so that you can provide secure access to stored information?
  • Are you protected from BYOD risks through Network Access Control, secure email and browsing, etc.?

Management. Determining what is business critical for the lifecycle management of your mobile solutions will help you ensure that today’s decisions have a positive effect on tomorrow’s productivity. Without proper management, mobile solutions will be short-lived, wasting valuable financial resources and failing to give your employees the tools they need. It’s critical to address the following:

  • What level of help-desk services will employees have, and will you accommodate different VIP/CxO service levels?
  • Do you have the staff and processes in place to handle a large number of employees requesting new devices, needing device replacements, or wanting answers to mobile plan questions?
  • If you are a global organization or have employees who travel internationally, can you be staffed 24/7 with proper resources who have the right technical knowledge?
  • What is your financial strategy for mobility management? Would you rather pay to staff your own help desk to cover peaks or pay a service provider a fixed monthly fee?

As you can see, it isn’t easy to put all the right components of a mobile strategy in place. Many companies either have a hard time staying up-to-speed or would rather focus on their core competencies. They choose instead to rely on mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) providers to put a mobility strategy on track and implement best-in-class management solutions.

Read more about what Enterprise Mobile can do to help you reduce costs, adjust strategy, and keep your business growing.


Do You Need a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) Provider?

Do You Need a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) Provider_BLOG IMAGEAs more employees use mobile devices and create increased demand for mobile apps in the workplace, organizations have to figure out the best way to shoulder the burden that comes with mobility. Gone are the days of managing a homogeneous stable of Blackberry devices. Today, mobility equals complexity.

Some organizations have a large IT staff and the infrastructure to support mobility management, while resources at other organizations are already maxed out. Some decision makers like spending time investigating and evaluating all the device, app, and management options out there, while others would prefer to focus on the company’s core business and leave mobility strategy to the experts. Some want to make sure their infrastructure, help-desk staff, and budgets can handle peaks in mobile usage, while others choose to work with outside partners to make mobility management an ongoing operational expense.

The mobility outsourcers of the past primarily handled device management, but today’s mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) providers offer a complete lifecycle of mobility services. Considering the speed with which the mobile landscape changes, MaaS providers can offer strategic expertise to advise organizations about direction, trends, and how to make the most of their mobile investments.

For many organizations, working with a MaaS provider allows for the right combination of involvement, control, and financial stability. Organizations can rely on their MaaS providers to:

  • Help set mobile strategy
  • Determine the best devices, apps, and management tools for their needs
  • Develop custom apps as appropriate
  • Track advancements in mobile technology
  • Manage the infrastructure
  • Ensure the right mix of device, app, and infrastructure security
  • Provide around-the-clock support
  • Monitor usage and optimize the environment
  • Make strategic recommendations as the market changes

Along the way, those organizations can scale up and down as necessary, paying only for what they need. They also gain flexibility when it comes to device types, apps, and management because their MaaS provider handles the support for the range of mobile solutions. And, of course, they transform their mobile infrastructure and its management from a capital expense into a consistent operational one.

Organizations in highly regulated industries and areas, such as financial services and government, may not be able to benefit from MaaS because many are required to maintain complete control of their assets. This may change over time, as MaaS proceeds along the security continuum.

Many others, however, are taking advantage of mobility advancements and even using them as competitive differentiators, thanks to the insights that their MaaS providers offer. Not all MaaS providers are created equal, so make sure you find the right one for you. Many have skills in a particular area (mobile support, mobile app development, etc.), but very few reach across the entire mobile lifecycle to help with everything from planning to business intelligence and analytics.

Read more about MaaS and how Enterprise Mobile can help you get the greatest value out of mobility.

 

 


Are You Ready for Enterprise Mobility? Find Out Today.

AreYouReadyForEM_Infographic_061113In the coming weeks, I’ll publish a post to this blog about the key technical considerations that every company needs to address as they consider implementing a mobility solution. This post looks at the fundamental technical and non-technical questions that factor into this important decision. For any company that has just begun thinking about all of the facets involved in a mobility deployment, we’ve created a decision model for determining how best to move forward. Check out the full-size version here.

Mobility is Gaining Momentum

The momentum behind the adoption of enterprise mobility is staggering.  In a recent survey by a leading analyst firm, 59 percent of CIOs responded that they have already implemented a centralized strategy for mobility. Another prominent research firm estimates that by 2016, business purchases of tablet computers alone will reach 53 million units. Every way you look at it, the evidence is convincingly clear: enterprise mobility is growing—fast.

Weighing the Benefits and Risks of Going Mobile

Mobilizing business activities can bring new opportunities. Benefits can include faster access to information and increased collaboration through the use of cloud file-sharing portals, as well as improvements in work-life balance, which can lead to higher employee satisfaction. In fact, it’s fair to say that mobility is already completely changing the game in industries like health care and air transportation to name a few. Some organizations in these industries are already reporting massive gains in efficiency and cost savings.

Of course, as with any innovative technology, there are risks too. Organizations considering a mobility solution rightly wonder about data security, particularly on personally-owned devices. And there’s the question about support for mobile users. Most organizations do not have the IT resources or the expertise in-house to troubleshoot problems with things like mobile application delivery, especially in a multi-platform environment.

Simplifying the Decision Process

These are just a few of the issues that businesses must address as they take a closer look at the benefits and risks of going ‘all-in’ on mobility. There are numerous other dimensions involved in the decision. How can enterprise business leaders prioritize and sort through the most important issues, as they begin the process of evaluating their company’s mobility readiness?

Admittedly, enterprise mobility can sometimes seem like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. So to help, we’ve created a decision tree that companies can use to start vetting some of the fundamental questions involved in any mobility deployment. Check out our decision model infographic and read more about the mobility solutions that we offer.


What’s Next in Enterprise Mobility

What’s Next in Enterprise Mobility_BLOG IMAGEToday’s mobile landscape is shifting more quickly than a late-model sports car. New feature-rich devices, security advancements, and innovative content management options mean that organizations have a lot to consider. Being aware of some of the coming trends will help you make smart choices as you look down the road.

Emphasis on Apps and Content

Until recently, most organizations have focused on which devices to deploy, but more and more are starting to put thought into enterprise apps (whether purchased off the shelf or custom developed) and content management. New online storage options provide flexibility in the way that organizations think about where content lives and the kinds of connectivity that are required to use and share that content. For example, a retailer could use a solution like Box to remotely push targeted content to the devices used by employees on the retail floor each day. That content might include details about daily sale items, videos about seasonal items, or tips for product usage, all of which employees could share with customers—without needing WiFi connectivity to download the content. Having new, industry-specific solutions to choose from can help you get ahead and derive the most value from your mobile environment.

Expanded Mobility

Adoption There have been several highly regulated industries that have not yet been able to take full advantage of mobility in general and Mobility-as-a-Service in particular. But as more organizations push to equip employees with mobile devices, some of those walls are coming down. Already, governments, healthcare organizations, and even financial services companies are starting to do more with mobile devices in limited use cases. That trend is likely to continue as vendors place greater emphasis on the enterprise mobile environment, rather than the current focus on consumers. Vendors will, by necessity, improve their security and encryption layers to give those in highly regulated industries greater flexibility when it comes to mobile device use and Mobility-as-a-Service options.

Replacement of Traditional Tools

So far, mobile devices have been considered an “and,” rather than an “or” in the business setting. Organizations deploy laptops and smartphones, tablets and traditional devices. But increased device power, processing speed, portability, and robust functionality is changing that. Soon we’ll start to see a true replacement; organizations may stop deploying laptops and only adopt tablets, or they might remove credit card processing machines and have employees use smartphones instead.

Specialty Solutions – Native Capabilities

Today, there are several niche solutions—such as those associated with mobile device management (MDM), mobile application management (MAM), and mobile content management (MCM)—that organizations need to consider and deploy to properly manage their mobile environments. As more organizations invest in mobile management software, there will be greater incentive for new players to enter the marketplace, which may cause a quantum shift in the way that MDM, MAM, and MCM are handled. Operating system developers may start to natively incorporate those capabilities. As a result, it will be critical for specialty solution providers to innovate to bring new capabilities to the industry. Even with this forward-thinking approach, it is likely that mobile management vendors will need to deal with market consolidation in the months and years ahead.

Next Steps

But you can’t wait for tomorrow’s advancements. Your organization’s productivity and overall effectiveness depends on putting the right mobile strategy in place today. However, keeping the industry’s fluidity in mind can be helpful as you invest in mobility. Here are a few suggestions for making the most of your mobile environment now, without locking you out of future capabilities:

  • Consider using subscription services rather than purchasing full licenses so that you can get the tools you need without long-term commitments.
  • Lease devices to give your employees the latest and greatest features but retain the ability to refresh as new devices enter the market.
  • Carefully determine the reasons for upgrading your mobile environment; don’t do it just for the sake of staying current. Make sure you’re investing in the right devices, apps, and storage options, and know what’s coming down the pike.
  • Think about storage. Larger file sizes make finding appropriate storage solutions an imperative. Make sure you know where you’ll store your content and how you can access and easily share it.

For help determining the next steps in mobility for your organization, learn more about Enterprise Mobile and watch the recent webcast about putting the right mobile strategy in place.

 


Part II: Planning a Mobile Security Strategy

Part II Planning a Mobile Security Strategy_BLOG IMAGEIn Part I of this blog, I discussed some of the biggest challenges in securing mobile environments and made some recommendations about mobile device management (MDM) software and how best to get started with planning. Here, I’ll address the importance of incorporating mobile application management and mobile content management solutions into your mobile security strategy.

Although using MDM software can be an important element in protecting your mobile environment, combining it with savvy mobile application management (MAM) and mobile content management (MCM) leads to the most effective overall mobile management and security. It’s not always easy to know how to best handle MAM and MCM for your organization, but adopting the right strategies is critical to your success.

MAM—While MDM is all about locking down devices, MAM helps safeguard mobile environments by controlling application access; only certain users can use particular applications on particular devices. If you are considering a Bring-Your-Own Device (BYOD) strategy, MAM helps you do so without putting corporate data at risk because corporate and personal apps can peacefully (and safely!) coexist on the same device. Employees are responsible for the security of the personal apps on their devices, while IT staff can protect and remove corporate apps if a device needs to be wiped.

Note some MAM best practices:

  • Decide on relevant acceptable use policies to help set expectations. Make sure employees are clear on which applications they’re allowed to access and which are blacklisted.
  • Use MAM tools to transparently install and configure business or security apps, especially if you have BYOD in play; you can’t always count on employees to do it properly on their own.
  • Establish a way to track app downloads and ongoing usage, monitor to detect outdated or disabled apps, and enforce the removal of blacklisted apps.

 

MCM—MCM focuses on the data itself, rather than your organization’s devices or applications. MCM strategies help establish a secure container around sensitive data, encrypting it and allowing only approved applications to access and distribute the data. The MCM market is still evolving, and upcoming integration improvements and the development of industry standards will make it easier for devices and apps to recognize the protections placed on data.

Even with some of the existing integration challenges, the number of MCM users is expected to grow by more than 10 percent annually for several years, according to a report by ABI Research. Proactive companies will look to capitalize on the advancements that the demand for high-quality MCM will bring, rather than waiting for complete maturity in that arena.

Of course, the key is finding that magic mix of MDM, MAM, and MCM strategies and tools. Although there doesn’t tend to be much overlap among these areas, you’ll need to do some testing to make sure that the products won’t limit each other or get in the way of other functionality.

Keep your eye on your top priorities for mobility management, whether those involve ease of use, cost, the amount of IT control, or specific features like asset management. These management solutions can’t be all things to all people, so find the ones that are right for you. With a suitable combination, you’ll be well on your way to having a mobile environment that meets your employees’ needs for productivity and flexibility without putting your devices, apps, or data at risk.

Learn more about planning your mobile security strategy.