Analyst: Proactive (Not Reactive) Mobile Management Is Key
The landscape of the mobile device market has changed pretty incredibly over the past five or so years. Gone are the days, for the most part, of the uniform, company-issued BlackBerry — strictly limited in what applications it can and cannot run — strapped to the belt of every worker. And with this inexorable march toward consumer-driven phones and tablets comes much more complexity when it comes to managing and dealing with that mobile device usage in the enterprise.
That complexity — the need to support a wider and ever-growing number of devices and computing platforms, the new and emerging security risks that emerge as companies begin to use cloud-computing technologies, and the growing acceptance of bring-your-own-device policies — means that companies that want to stay a step ahead of the curve are having to seriously reconsider their own policies and approaches when it comes to the company phone. That was the take-away that Chris Silva, an analyst specializing in enterprise and brand-facing mobile developments with the Altimeter research group, delivered during an hour-long webcast he hosted Thursday with Visage Mobile, titled “Mobile Management 2.0: Getting Proactive Through Holistic Management.”
“We’ve heard so much about BYOD,” Silva said, “So people say, ‘We have to do it, right?’ Well guess what: Only 9 percent of businesses have been able to actually cut expenditures [through BYOD]. Ninety-one percent didn’t find savings. That means they actually increased what they were spending, and that’s a natural side-effect of taking this on in a reactive way.”
Ultimately, the range of factors that now go into choosing a mobile strategy for even a pretty small business require what Silva called a “holistic” approach to planning: Involving all the departments of an organization that are effected by mobile choices; taking stock of the organization’s needs, pain points, and actual patterns of usage; and developing policies and governance to handle mobile use.
In short, dealing with the company phones is no longer simply the provenance of the IT department. A company’s management, its human resources department, its sales teams, and its information workers all use mobile tools differently, and must be accounted for. “You need to avoid the one-size-fits-all solution,” Silva said. “You need a sliding scale.”
Whether it’s the marketing department needing email on-the-go, or a field service technician needing to collaborate with his co-workers from the field, people within an organization use their phones in wildly different ways. An organization needs to have “visibility” into exactly what sorts of applications and usage each worker really requires — then to grant them the access and security clearance commiserate to their role.
Silva described the “hero mentality” of many modern IT departments: Under-staffed and over-worked, the IT team is constantly running from problem to problem, putting our technological “fires” as they emerge. In such a rapid and reactionary setting, the most natural way to control the complex nature of wireless usage had been to simply “lock down” employees’ phones through Mobile Device Management tools.
“Taking that approach to mobile makes it impossible to scale,” Silva said. “Restricting usage — that was [IT's] only way to get their hands around it. But it only gets worse as more devices come on board the network.”
Instead, organizations require a mobile “plane,” he said, that’s able to manage the devices themselves, the policies that govern their usage, the data those phones access, and identify each user’s role. That “plane” model makes it easier to scale or adapt in the future, when newer or even more complex uses are required. He called that the “vacation” or “golf course” persona:
“Those are the guys who’ve taken on technologies that grow with demand, who’ve unified their infrastructure for policy enforcement,” he said. “These are the guys on the beach saying “I’m glad I got ahead of this. …
“It’s never too late to get off that hero path and onto that vacation path.”
A second webinar with Silva is scheduled for later this summer. We’ll pass along details once registration opens. Check out Silva’s presentation below:
Image used under Creative Commons by Flickr user designmark.