Mobile Devices at 30: How Mature is Your Mobility Strategy"

Posted on December 16, 2014

It's been 30 years since mobile devices like the Tandy Model 100 (the first "notebook" computer with a built-in modem) and the Motorola Dyna TAC (aka the brick phone) first made their way into the workplace. Mobile devices of all kinds are now so common that most employees don't even give their use a second thought.

But a new study from Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), a Colorado-based industry analysis and research firm, shows that many businesses still are not prepared for the challenges involved in managing and securing mobile technologies.

According to the study, only 15% of organizations feel "fully prepared" to support mobile requirements, despite the fact that 60% consider mobile management to be important or critical to their business. The survey also showed that there is a desire for a unified approach to endpoint management, with more than 50% indicating that they have a preference for a single solution that supports both mobile devices and PCs. 

Overall, roughly 60% of the organizations surveyed regarded enterprise mobility management (EMM) either as important or critical to their current business objectives. Two thirds of businesses with more than 500 employees reported elevated importance for EMM capabilities, while 48% of businesses with fewer than 500 employees considered EMM an essential practice. 

Maturing Enterprise Mobile Strategies

Mobile device technology has moved ahead rapidly in the 30 years since mobile devices first began showing up in the workplace. But it's taken longer for most companies to create an all-encompassing EMM strategy that protects company data while respecting employee privacy and device ownership.

Information Age recently wrote that many companies are now rebranding BYOD as "bring your own disaster", with IT departments desperately grappling for solutions that will allow them to take back some degree of control over the mobile environment. The article says that the BYOD era is dead, quoting Gartner as saying, "There is no way for IT to assume full responsibility of securing and managing devices without ownership."

One newer strategy is called COPE: corporate-owned, personally enabled devices. Instead of making corporate functions work on personal devices, COPE lets employees have both personal and professional use of company devices. It gives the employee a choice of device from a selection of models. They are allowed to access both work and personal information, but the device remains corporate-owned.

The EMA survey says that bring your own device (BYOD), choose your own device (CYOD), and business-only policies were each the strategy of choice for roughly a third of survey respondents, while bring your own applications (BYOA) was part of the company strategy at less than 2% of respondents. 71% of the companies that restrict mobile device usage to company-owned devices told EMA that they permit employees to use some or all of their devices for personal tasks.

That doesn't surprise Jared Hansen, CEO at Breezy, which makes secure mobile printing software. of secure mobile printing leader Breezy. "Companies can set policies all they want, but trying to block any employee from using a mobile device for some personal tasks is just as impossible as it was to restrict employees from occasionally using a company-owned PC or laptop to access a consumer-oriented website. More importantly, even if it is possible, it isn't good business."

Hansen says that employees are perfectly willing to spend personal time before or after work checking email and handling company tasks " and in exchange, they expect to be able to check a news headline or exchange an email with a child's teacher during business hours.

"What IT needs to do is segment business resources and personal resources, so that they can secure and manage the business side without affecting the employee's ability to manage their personal lives," Hansen says. "Savvy employees will strongly resist any EMM strategy that could result in their personal data being wiped, or would restrict their ability to share personal photos or information from their mobile devices. So it's important for IT to craft a strategy that protects company data without trampling on the employee's privacy or ownership rights."

One of the best strategies for doing that, Hansen says, is to remember that employees are the customers that IT serves. "When you think of employees as your customers, it subtly changes the way you think about your policies and that makes a huge difference in employee compliance and adoption rates for EMM solutions," he says.

Breezy's secure mobile printing solution is fully integrated with industry leading enterprise mobility management tools like AirWatch ,Citrix, Good Technology, IBM MaaS360, MobileIron and others. For more information on mobile device security and secure mobile printing, watch this video from Breezy, download The Definitive Guide to Mobile Printing, a free ebook, or click here to schedule a Breezy demo now.

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