What's driving enterprise mobility?

Martin Gunnarson
Gunnarson fires on enterprise mobility

Enterprise mobility is big business, and it's big in business too. According to recent survey report by enterprise software vendor IFS, more companies are investing in business applications for employees than those investing in tools for customers, and more than three quarters (76%) have already invested in a mobility solution.

We talk to Martin Gunnarson, Director of Research & Strategy at IFS on the trends that will shape enterprise mobility in business in 2014 and beyond.

TechRadar Pro: Is enterprise mobility a priority for UK businesses?

Martin Gunnarson: Mobile access to corporate data is one of the biggest business challenges and opportunities the modern enterprise has to face. It has to balance the benefits of access to corporate data from anywhere, anytime with the security issues this raises.

As more workers bring smartphone and tablet devices into the workplace and companies take benefit from introducing new form factors, it simply has to be a focus for businesses. We asked 200 UK-based CIOs/IT managers from medium-to-large sized corporations for their experiences of enterprise mobility schemes, about the benefits and drawbacks that ensued and the applications that benefit from mobility.

We found that the drive towards mobility is happening quickly in most organisations because of the business benefits it brings, and that it overrides security concerns. The research revealed that the majority of organisations do regard mobility as a priority, with 76 per cent having already discovered clear benefits to investing in mobility schemes.

The applications that benefit most from mobility concern personal productivity and those related to job specific functions, with a strong degree of commonality across industry sectors.

TRP: Why is this? What does enterprise mobility offer?

MG: It's no surprise that employees and customers are more mobile than ever: they work wherever they're using devices they either acquire themselves (BYOD) or which are provided by the employer.

Enterprise mobility can mean different things to different people, but the most common scenarios are enabling staff to work from mobile devices as part of their role in the field, or simply providing support to staff who want to use their device in the workplace.

Today's fast-paced business environment relies heavily on the availability of and access to the latest information in real-time, and mobility makes this possible.

Mobility needs to be fully embraced by enterprises, as it offers clear business benefits. Not managing mobile access to corporate data risks loss of confidential data, ceding leadership to competitors, and can create employee retention issues.

TRP: You say 76% have already invested in mobility solutions – what about the other 24%? What's stopping them?

MG: One reason is that some organisations just don't see mobility as business critical; a technology or mobile business process may be vital in one sector but superfluous in another. More importantly, security is still a concern, and we hear this a lot from customers and prospects. In the report, of those that haven't yet invested in mobility, 46 per cent cited this was due to security concerns.

Corporate reluctance can be impacted by stories of corporate data getting into the wrong hands or the recent NSA scandal, but these issues don't necessarily have to do with mobility.

Mobile security has vastly improved – both with regards to devices and device management and how data is stored and transmitted, but also to internal processes concerning how users and user passwords are managed.

The new iPhone 5S was released with fingerprint biometrics as an extra layer of security on the handset, which will give businesses extra peace of mind. The survey reveals other barriers to the adoption of mobile schemes such as a lack of IT resources and failing to find a solution that best suits the needs of the business.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.