Enterprise Mobile Workforce – strategic advantage for your business or just a fad (Part 1)

History

We consider Nineties to be years of computerization with advancements from the use of main-frames to PCs/ laptops, where LAN and WAN gave rise to the Internet and emergence of the ‘second generation’ mobile phone systems which used digital instead of analog transmission. The rise in mobile phone usage as a result of 2G was explosive and created a demand for data to browse the internet with greater speeds. Due to the net boom the industry began to create the next generation of technology known as 3G. Launched in 2001, 3G technology resulted in introduction of handheld devices and smartphones giving popularity to the likes of the Palm and Blackberry. Until 2006 only 64 Million smartphones were sold worldwide and Android, iOS, Windows phones were not in existence. The smartphone revolution began in 2007 when Apple introduced iPhone which was the first full platform phone. By the third quarter of 2012, one billion smartphones were in use worldwide –  65% of mobile consumers owned smartphones in the US alone. 4th generation (4G) technologies are now 10 times faster than 3G and faster Wi-Fi networks have helped drive the mass adoption of mobile phones and handheld devices in the market.

5

The Current Trend

By January 2016, smartphone adoption reached 79% of mobile consumers in the US. The latest report from the Pew Research Center found that 92% of U.S. adults own a mobile phone. In fact, mobile phones have now surpassed PCs, and the analysts have starting terming this era as the post PC era. The trend away from computers is particularly evident among adults under the age of 30 where only 78% own a laptop or desktop computer, compared to 88% in 2010. Mobile technology has reached a tipping point in businesses too and mobile adoption has reached a critical mass among their employees. Forrester, in the 2013 Mobile Workforce Adoption Trends report stated that 37% of employees work from multiple locations, 82% use multiple apps, and 53% use multiple devices.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) 6

Today, many people use tablets and smartphones in their everyday lives which has led to a number of companies, to allow their employees to bring their own devices (BYOD) to work as they perceive productivity gains and cost savings. Many businesses are finding that their employees are also willing to leverage their own devices for business applications.

 

Risks

But this practice of BYOD in Enterprises has its associated risks: 7

 

Graphic - BYOD The Issues

  • Security Concerns like end node problems, data breaches, monitoring personal devices, malware exposure, administration of large number of devices
  • Complexity of continuously keeping up with the new technology
  • Companies apprehend that usage of mobile at workspace to be more of a distraction than a benefit
  • Enterprise data privacy
  • Scalability and Capability: Many organizations today lack proper network infrastructure to handle the heavy traffic which will be generated when employees will start using different devices at the same time
  • Phone Number Problem: is a key issue of BYOD which is often overlooked where employees leaving the company, take their phone number with them, raising the question of the ownership of the phone number. Customers calling the number may be calling competitors leading to loss of business for BYOD enterprises.

 

Adoption

Earlier International research revealed that only 20% of employees have signed a BYOD policy but in the recent years (BYOD) phenomenon is rising from 31 percent in 2010 to 41 percent in 20111 Analysts suggest a variety of sectors where BYOD can improve productivity and provide easy access to required data and information anytime and anywhere. Despite the known associated risks, employers across the US are increasingly recognizing that the way we work today has changed drastically, and it is becoming evident that mobile workforces are the way of the future. The U.S. office of personnel management agrees that the anytime, anywhere work environment is here to stay, In his “Presidential Memorandum – Enhancing Workplace Flexibilities and Work-Life Program” President Obama mentioned that “To attract, empower, and retain a talented and productive workforce in the 21st century, the Federal Government must continue to make progress in enabling employees to balance their responsibilities at work and at home”2  even more stressing the need of an always connected mobile workforce. However, to realize the full potential of fully connected anytime, anywhere and on any-device (mobile) workforce with real time access to organization’s information systems, businesses need to address and mitigate the associated risks.

 

Solutions

Enterprises mitigate risks by using many of the following policies to address mobile security concerns:

 

Mobile Device Management (MDM)

primarily deals with integrating and managing mobile devices, segregation of corporate information and data, securing of emails, securing of corporate documents and enforcing corporate policies on information security. MDM controls on-device applications and content, it controls and protects the data and configures settings of all mobile devices connected to the organization’s network. It can be implemented both on-premises and on the cloud. It optimizes the functionality and security of a mobile communications network while minimizing cost and downtime and is leveraged for both company-owned (CYOD) and employee-owned (BYOD) devices across the enterprise.

 

Mobile Application Management (MAM)

is driven by the widespread adoption and use of mobile applications in business environment. Forrester forecasted in 2011 that the “mobile management services market” would reach $6.6 Billion by 2015.3 In April 2016, another research firm named markets and markets reported that the Managed Mobility Services (MMS) market is in the introductory phase where it is expected to grow from USD 4.56 Billion in 2016 to USD 19.40 Billion by 2021, at a high Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 33.6% 4 We see a rise in the usage of mobile devices in the enterprises – with rise in usage of mobile applications by the stakeholders of an enterprise including its employees, decision makers, LOBs and customers. The report also stated that organizations were broadening their “mobility strategy” beyond mobile device management to “managing a growing number of mobile applications.” When an employee brings a personal device into the business environment, MAM enables the corporate IT to download business applications on the device and control access to business data. It ensures that if the device is lost, or when an employee leaves locally cached business data can be removed from it.

 

Containerization

segregates enterprise and personal assets in the device by completely isolating personal assets from enterprise assets and the enterprise network. Users are able to use their devices for convenient and secured enterprise access. IT creates and manage ‘containers’ that are encrypted and policy enforced within each personal device providing controlled access to email, business documents and enterprise applications. Even the data is encrypted where the containers can be wiped without disturbing employee’s personal data and applications. Connections to the enterprise network can be shielded from probes, attacks, malware, and compromised devices, by conducting communications to the containers through a private communications channel that can encrypt and authenticate each connection. This eliminates use of VPNs and inbound TCP/IP connections to the enterprise network resulting in only the secure containers connecting to the enterprise network.

 

Mobile app virtualization technology

addresses compliance, security, and operations issues for organizations as it separates mobile applications from their underlying operating system using secure containers, it only virtualizes the individual application and the user session rather than the full mobile operating system. One instance of the remote OS can serve multiple users, where each user session is isolated from one other and the output of the user session is rendered remotely to the end user. It can scale up to large number of users as and hardware features cane be shared across many user sessions.

 

Mobile Information Management (MIM)

is a device-agnostic security strategy which keeps sensitive data encrypted and only allows approved applications to access or transmit it.

 

CYOD (Choose your own device) 8

is an alternative to the BYOD model, which is usually an example of the COPE (corporate-owned, personally-enabled) approach.

 

 

 

For routine access to email, documents, intranet or hybrid apps, containerization is normally sufficient to provide secure and productive mobility. However, where the job function is completely mobile or requires information access beyond email/PIM, documents and intranet apps, MDM can be used. The CYOD model can ease the administrative burden of MDM and MAM by limiting the options for device types and maintaining administrative control over device changes. Due to the use of enterprise owned devices completely managed by IT, the CYOD approach protects the organization’s data from both external and internal threats.

For many years, organizations viewed the desktop as the only way to deliver information from their enterprise applications. But now with the growth in mobile computing, users expect to be able to switch among desktops, tablets or smartphones anytime and anywhere. Organizations can derive long term competitive advantage utilizing their mobile workforce if mobile strategy becomes one of the key parts of their business strategy. Experts are now talking about the success of enterprises lying in futuristic Enterprise mobility solutions with focus on GIS, IOT and Proximity based systems, we shall discuss these in Part 2. A good SI working on cutting edge technologies can add great value to enterprises derive their strategic objectives.


References
  1. Source: The Economist, “Beyond the PC: Survey on Personal Technology,” 2011-10-08, page 11
  2. Source: obamawhitehouse.archives.gov
  3. Source: McCarthy, John C., and Pelino, Michele,’Mobile Management Takes a 180-Degree Turn,’’ Forrester Research, 2011-08-11
  4. Managed Mobility Services Market by Function (Device Management, Application Management, Security Management, and Maintenance & Support), by Organization Size (SME and Enterprise), Industry Vertical, and Region – Global Forecast to 2021
  5. Source: http://apprize.info/security/cisco_1/18.html
  6. Source: www.cybersecuritynews.co.uk
  7. Source: www.buffalo-technology.com
  8. Source: www.stotthoare.com.au

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