Consumerisation of IT has created a desire in every employee to access corporate information using a array of personal mobile devices. Nancy Sudheer discovers that today’s CIO faces the challenge of ensuring a device-independent mobile environment that will allow users to access information – anywhere, anytime.
In a business environment, mobilising IT means taking information from inside the secure environment of a company’s IT infrastructure and delivering it into the hands of employees and partners outside in less secure or public places. Therefore, ensuring the secure transmission and storage of this information on mobile devices is a key concern with any CIO today.
Across the Middle East smartphone uptake has been massive, led by consumers who appear to have great inf luence over the technology they use. It clearly indicates a great appreciation of the benefits of smartphone technology and a willingness to use it in their personal and professional life.
According to market research, smartphones now account for one in four mobile handsets sold in the world and is experiencing around 20% CAGR per year.
“This can be challenging for CIOs who need to deal with employees who insist in using a particular manufacture or type of device. Risk assessment of these devices is crucial before accepting these devices onto the network and is feature: Mobility one way CIO can retain control over their usage. Therefore, we expect to see companies provide recommendations to staff on appropriate purchases,” highlighted Matthew Hands, Enterprise Channel Manager at RIM Middle East (manufacturers of BlackBerry).
Likewise with the fast emerging tablet devices there will be an appetite for individuals to use these devices connected to the corporate network. BlackBerry, one of the leading players in the enterprise mobility segment is now looking at integrating its smartphones with the new PlayBook. The tablet is focused on the business environment and utilises the same management infrastructure as that of any other BlackBerry smartphone. These devices will llow users greater functionality and is expected to further increase staff productivity. They are likely to become more commonplace than laptops as they are lighter and more compact, yet deliver the equivalent computing power and with faster highspeed wireless networks like 4G LTE which are highly responsive.
Ensuring true mobility
Employee productivity in the enterprise environment improves with device independence. Particular devices can be chosen keeping in mind whether it provides the best performance and usability for a particular task without worrying about whether apps and data needed will be available on that device.
Nass Nauthoa, general manager, Intel, GCC said, “Today there are concepts like virtual containers on a notebook PC with hardware-assisted virtualisation capabilities, employees can have access to mulitiple environments (corporate and personal) on a single PC—something that is not possible on a mobile Internet device. However, employees may also want to carry companion devices for travel or home use for light computing tasks, such as access to the Internet, contacts, or schedules. Device independence gives employees the f lexibility to use the best device for each specific circumstance.”
True mobility facilitates business continuity, collaboration and increases productivity. True mobility expands beyond devices to processes and workgroups. Mobility in the workplace is about taking existing workf lows and creating a different kind of experience, not just for the individual, but for the group the individual works within.
Tarek Abbas, systems engineering director at Juniper Networks MEA explained, “True mobility facilitates business continuity, collaboration and increases productivity. Mobility expands beyond devices to processes and workgroups. In the workplace it is about taking existing workf lows and creating a different kind of experience, not just for the individual, but for the group the individual works within.”
Individuals often assume that because they have a smartphone or implemented a new WLAN network, they’ve embraced mobility – but they really haven’t; more needs to be done to bring about precision and difference.
Process within an organisation is important. It has to be made simple to be adopted and change working methods. And the outlook towards business. A good process will help employees make choices aligning with the top management requirements.
“Organisational process will also be a large determinant in the success of mobility within an enterprise. Many a times by adopting an online presence via a portal can lead to successful deployment of enterprise mobility devices. This portal can look into aspects of ordering mobile devices, approvals, criteria determining which device is appropriate for the role of an employee by setting out a clear mobile policy. Helping employees report breakages and oss of devices,” explained Wael El Kabbany, general manager at British Telecom MENA.
He added, “Having an enterprise mobility process in place for the management of enterprise mobility devices is critical. It is essential that an organisation truly understands its enterprise mobile estate, the associated costs and has clear policies in place for employees. Mobile asset requirements may also change depending on employees leaving the company or change of roles.”
“True enterprise mobility” means a broad spectrum of solutions that leverage the latest in mobile technology from smartphones, to cameras, barcodes and mobile networks. Raj Bala, CTO at Cognizant stated, “To gain the most from mobility, enterprises must reshape themselves. This involves assessing how to achieve the enterprise’s goals using new technologies such as mobility. Often, existing business processes have to be reengineered to achieve optimal use of mobility. New business processes also have to be put in place to exploit mobility. Only then can true enterprise mobility be achieved, rendering a significant competitive advantage to corporations undertaking this transformation”
The physical realities that used to be an important aspect of doing business, are paving way for virtual readiness, where businesses can be conducted from anywhere, at anytime, on any device and at much faster speeds, with complete f lexibility and security.
Abdulla Hashim, senior vice president, business solutions at Etisalat noted, “Mobility has clearly emerged as a business transformation tool and Etisalat is all set to be at the driving seat to deliver value to customers with its range of innovative services. Mobile applications can be customised and applied across various industries to provide higher business efficiency and productivity.”
“Mobility solutions have created a paradigm shift in the way businesses are conducted in the UAE. While on one hand, proliferation of mobile devices are elp to liberate the workforce by creating on the move avenues for easy access to e-mail and business applications; on the other, the same proliferation and growing reliance on mobility is creates higher stress for the CIOs who have the additional task of integrating and controlling mobility to obtain optimum workforce efficiency. This is where organisations need to collaborate with solution partners such as Etisalat who understand every component of the mobility ecosystem.”
One device rule
While some companies still follow the one-device rule most IT leaders today removing away from it. The leading banks in the world are an example where they are now giving employees the option of choosing their own platforms.
Manish Mishra, vice president, HCL Technologies Middle East has worked with customers to manage mobility and mobile device management solutions that can handle the complexity of managing multiple devices and platforms thus reducing the need for a one device rule.
The implementation of a one-device rule depends on the type of enterprise ordivision, where the maximum devices are deployed. This is closely linked to the applications needed by the employees, added Sylvaine Dekeyrel, marketing virtualisation manager, NEC IT platforms (EMEA).
Given the multiple end-user environment, a mobility deployment can be classified into different categories, Hozefa Saylawala, director, Motorola Solutions said, “Consumer, rugged or semi rugged are classifications which
are important as connectivity has to be ensured with the integration of the real time information. This is accessed by mobile and multiple back-end systems. End-user access devices must also suit different user and environmental needs.”
Today there are secure mobile application accesses, strong authentication, high availability, scalable architecture, and compliance reporting available in a seamless system. This brings the same level of control to mobile devices- including employee-owned smart phones that IT applies to laptops and desktops.
“Comprehensive and robust management features enable IT to effectively secure its mobile workforce, ensure that policies and configurations are persistent, and deliver automatic and real-time compliance management. Most solutions today also help enterprise end-users drive down support costs and overall TCO by leveraging the native capabilities of each enterprise’s existing data center infrastructure and IT network, including directory services,” said Abdelhamid Gamal, Telco AM from McAfee Middle East.
It is equally essential that security policies must be consistent and uniform across an enterprise, regardless of access, “A secure mobility solution should provide a simple deployment mechanism for enforcing role-based granular access control to corporate applications with a zero-touch provisioning access for new employees and authorised users in the organisation,” added Abbas.
As safeguards are put in place to protect data and intellectual property, companies can allow employees to select the tools that suit their personal work styles and facilitate their job duties, improving employee productivity and job satisfaction manifold.
Even technology majors like Intel have opted to allow their employees to use personal mobile devices in the enterprise. The IT team is actively involved in integrating employee-owned hand-held devices into the enterprise environment.
Employees must understand the value of data on their devices. This must be clearly understood by setting security policies (such as web browsing) down to the end of the device. Device encryption is another important element which must be integrated for stolen or lost devices. “To understand the value of data it is important for an organisation to explain the corporate value of the available information to the users. Training of users is another essential element as any technological solution always needs the support of the users to ensure that it works,” stated Nigel Hawthorn, vice president EMEA marketing from Blue Coat Systems.
This same level of control must be brought to mobile devices — including employee-owned smartphones — that IT applies to laptops and desktops.
“Comprehensive management features enable IT to secure its mobile workforce, ensures that policies and configurations are persistent, and eliver automatic and real-time compliance management. This helps drive down support costs and overall TCO by leveraging the native capabilities of each enterprise’s existing data centre infrastructure and IT network, including directory services,” added Gamal.
A comprehensive policy within the organisation ensures restricting transfer of specific files and documents, blocking email attachments using user-configurable criteria, customising application control, and denying internal and external Web access based on various user-configurable options.
Florian Malecki, senior product marketing manager from SonicWALL EMEA explained that IT still finds it challenging to manage mobile devices as data and network resources have to be clearly defined. “Data and network resources have to be accessed from mobile devices. Security companies today are supporting clients on this front providing easy to install, manage and use solutions. Organisations need to understand that there will be many rapid changes in the smart phone platform, beyond the control of corporate IT. Administrators must deal with multiple operating system platforms, including Apple iOS, Google Android, Nokia Symbian and Microsoft Windows Mobile, with an additional potential for new providers from emerging technology powerhouses.”
The burden of juggling support for multiple smart phone platforms can also take IT resources away from securing other aspects of the network. Smart phones operate in two worlds: they can connect to the corporate network over wireless, or bypass the network entirely using mobile cellular connections. An employee might download Malware from the Web over 4G, and then disseminate it to the network over the corporate WiFi.
Today, a CIO cannot restrict “Personal-Liable” devices as they bring both benefits and disadvantages to any organisation. While having your employee pay for and manage their own device has cost-savings benefits, supporting an nrestricted number of platforms is a nightmare for any CIO. This is not going to change in the near future as the adoption by employees of converge devices increases within an enterprise environment.