This is the fourth and final post in our series about enterprise mobility. Please take a look at our first three posts: 1) How Mobile is Changing the Enterprise, 2) How Mobile Apps are Impacting the Manufacturing Industry, and 3) How Mobile is Impacting the Construction and Energy Industries.
Mobilizing your enterprise can be a daunting task. You have to make changes to your infrastructure, manage your workforce differently, create new standards and protocols, and oversee a new set of processes. When developing an enterprise mobile strategy, a thorough analysis of all technical and organizational effects is required, and certain steps need to be followed to increase the probability of success.
Build the Foundation
Just like any home or office building, enterprise mobile platforms need a strong foundation to ensure all situations are accounted for and everything holds up through thick and thin.
IT departments must create a solid back-end foundation that allows for the necessary functionality today and provide flexibility to adopt future requirements. Having a strong server and database foundation will allow employees to access back-end systems and data seamlessly and efficiently via mobile applications and web.
An important aspect of this foundation is a virtual private network (VPN) connection. Recent versions of both Android and iOS allow employees to create VPN connections to their corporate networks, essentially extending the network to mobile users. When such a connection is established, access to corporate data through apps or mobile intranet pages can be controlled by IT departments, which is important for data security and network management.
Long gone are the days where companies issued secured Blackberries to their employees. Enterprises are becoming “consumerized”, and employees want to use devices and carriers of their choice and download consumer mobile applications that their IT departments can’t control. Combine this with the use of these devices over insecure networks and IT managers have a big security problem on their hands.
According to executives who attended the VentureBeat Mobile Summit, BYOD is a reality at 80% of companies but only 10% have BYOD policies. Also, most employees are clueless about their company’s BYOD policy. Education is paramount, as employees must know how to safely use their mobile phones and what the security consequences are if they don’t.
Mobile device management has become quite important as well. If a VPN has been created, IT departments can disable VPN accounts for phones that get lost, as well as enact lower VPN time limits to force users to authenticate more frequently, limiting the risk of losing a device that is already connected to the network. Techniques such as phone wiping, where IT managers can remotely delete data from mobile devices, are also being used. And companies such as Enterproid and MobileSpaces are applying innovative ways to draw lines between work and play.
There are many other potential threats to mobile security in addition to BYOD. Corporate software developers are building more and more apps, and they want the freedom to select what platforms and frameworks to use, which can poke serious holes in a company’s security blanket. Additionally, the increased use of cloud-based services like Box and Sharepoint can strain IT departments. And allowing access to back-end systems must be done in a way that is credentialed and secured.
No matter what the situation, the best enterprise mobile security programs should provide IT departments with visibility into the devices connecting to the enterprise and the ability to push out security policies, and educate employees on the right way to handle mobile devices and data, all while not inhibiting productivity.
The days of the 9-to-5 workday are gone, and the usage patterns of data and systems are now much more unpredictable, given the all-day accessibility of mobile devices.
Mobile will place large, unpredictable load demands on back-end web services, and companies need to ensure that their systems can handle the peaks and valleys to offer reliable access to their employees. Even if failure occurs, back-end services need to be able to recover quickly with little loss.
Manage and Analyze
In addition to securing devices, IT departments and management need to constantly monitor mobile networks and analyze usage to provide the most value to employees.
Devices need to be managed to ensure they are in compliance and can quickly access data and applications. IT departments must be able to meter usage, from both a back-end and end-user perspective, to optimize system performance. And management should measure return on investment and increases in productivity as a result of mobilizing employees.
The mobilization of the enterprise involves whole new ways of thinking and doing business. Employees must adhere to a new set of policies and procedures, IT departments have to worry about new threats, and management has to understand the organizational impact the mobile movement will cause. But in the end, the benefits will far outweigh the headaches, and enterprises can leverage mobile for competitive advantages.