In my second post on shifts we’re seeing in enterprise technology, let’s look at mobile devices.

Given that the mobile phone celebrated its 40th birthday this week, it seems like the perfect time to examine how far the device has come over the last four decades.

It’s hardly a great market insight to point out the huge rise in popularity and sales of smartphones. These devices now sell in greater numbers than PCs, sending PC manufacturers scurrying to review their plans in the face of a declining product market. According to research house IDC, tablet shipments surpassed 128 million in 2012, representing a 78.4% year-over-year growth in tablet shipments. Research from the Federal Reserve Board also revealed that almost half (48%) of US smartphone owners have used mobile banking in the last year—proof that consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable carrying out financial transactions on their mobile devices.

Securing the smartphone for enterprise

So what does enterprise mobility mean for IT? First, the increasing popularity of mobile devices resulted in RIM losing its stronghold on the corporate smartphone market. Senior executives demanded the ability to use their shiny new iPhone to read work emails. That opened the door for Mobile Device Management (MDM) vendors to make sure that these iPhones (sometimes Android phones, but usually iPhones) were as locked down as the BlackBerry these executives had before.

This freedom has now spread to non-executive employees, with public and private sector organizations embracing Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) policies. This seems like a great enterprise mobility solution: employees can work from anywhere, using a device that the company has not had to purchase for them, and they no longer have to carry two devices (one work and one personal). Employees also have the opportunity to use their preferred brand of smartphone.

This poses a new problem though. MDM software is designed to give the IT department complete control of the device—what can and can’t be installed, password complexity, remote wipe, etc. This is appropriate for a corporate-owned device, but employees aren’t going to be pleased if their personal phones are remotely wiped (including personal content) when they leave their job, or if they have to enter a 12-character complex password in order to reply to a text from a friend. So, we can expect to see a shift from MDM to Mobile Application Management (MAM). This separates corporate apps from personal ones, allowing IT to control all security aspects of sensitive apps, while end users are free to install Angry Birds and choose a simple PIN for what is, after all, their own phone.

The anytime, anywhere workforce

So what are workers using their devices for? Obviously email, contacts, and calendars are the starting point. But knowledge workers are used to instant access to whatever they need in their personal lives and expect the same from their work lives. They want to work anytime, from anywhere, using their preferred mobile device. This means they expect enterprise mobility to enable them to use an iPad to access to documents, images, etc. in a meeting; to approve purchase orders on a smartphone on the train; to check the latest sales figures around the clock as the financial year draws to an end. Analyst house Forrester characterizes 29% of the global workforce as anytime, anywhere information workers—those who use three or more devices, work from multiple locations, and use many apps. This is up from 23% in 2011. Users are now as likely to be on a smartphone or tablet when accessing information as they are to be on a desktop or laptop. Enterprise application vendors who don’t consider mobile apps to be equally as important as their desktop counterparts will be considered legacy and will eventually be replaced by those who do.

Corporate networks become irrelevant

Of course, working from anywhere means a major shift in the role of the corporate Local Area Network (LAN). Before Software as a Service (SaaS) and mobile business apps, business data was hosted on the corporate network, and access to this network was locked down airtight. Traditionally, you had to be in the office and physically connected to the network (don’t get me started on corporate VPNs). Locking down the LAN meant that the security of business applications was less important, as you could only access them from inside the building, from desktops that were similarly locked down. Current expectations that you should be able to work with people from other organizations (partners, contractors, customers, etc.) just as easily as someone within your company—from any device, anywhere, anytime—means a new approach to this problem is required. Application vendors in the enterprise mobility space now have more responsibility for security and access control than they did for legacy on-premise installs.

Huddle’s new iOS app, for both the iPhone and iPad, enables you and your company to work securely from anywhere, at any time with teams inside and out of your organization.

Jonathan Howell


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