Enterprise mobility - Not a packaged solution
have acquired mobility in the past 10 years, thanks to mobile telephony and
its phenomenal growth in India. Parijat Chakraborty, General Manager,
Research, IDC (India) explains how it has become the turn of the enterprises
and their activities to go mobile.
All commercial enterprises across verticals are facing the increasing pressure
of higher efficiency and better utilisation of resources. Both manpower and
infrastructural resources are being optimised across segments. Enterprises need
to get better returns, in terms of efficiency and productivity, from these resources.
Mobilising the work force and providing them with the option to stay in touch
with the enterprise system is the mantra of resource mobilisation and optimisation
No Standard Approaches
However, enterprise mobility is not a standard application. Every enterprise
faces a unique degree and dimension of challenges during the planning and implementation
of mobility in their environment. Sometimes it leads to inadvertent delays in
the implementation. In worse cases, it may lead to a complete setback to the
process. A logical and structured approach towards the enterprise mobility project
can reduce these surprises on the way.
As with any new technology/solution, it is important to match requirements with
the benefits and limitations of the solution. This is more important in the
case of an enterprise mobility project as it potentially transforms the organisations
established processes and the way it runs its business.
Focus On The Dimensions
IDC suggests focusing on eight dimensions of enterprise mobility. Thoroughly
comprehending these dimensions and doing your homework well in advance leads
to a successful implementation of a mobility project and ensures a smooth ride.
It also helps the CIO/CTO in deciding if mobility is right for an organisation
and if it is, how best to implement it to optimise returns. These dimensions
of enterprise mobility are infrastructure, applications, standards, security,
training, support, quality management and technology monitoring.
Time For A Detailed Look
Infrastructure: This is the first homework one needs
to do, starting with a complete assessment of the present infrastructure. Mobility
solutions usually require relatively better infrastructure. The initial infrastructure
must be compared with that required for the mobility project to understand the
investment, complexity and procurement plans.
Applications: This is one of the most crucial dimensions
for the optimum utilisation of enterprise mobility. One needs to study all the
applications and processes running in the organisation to decide what is to
be mobilised, for whom and when. There should not be a blanket approach towards
mobility, if one is serious about optimising the benefits. If one company is
mobilising a particular application/process, it does not necessarily mean that
everybody in the same segment needs to follow suit. One must take a call depending
on the specific requirements of the organisation.
The approach towards the applications and processes can be staggered, if need
be. With proper scalability built-in, a staggered approach significantly reduces
Standards: Selection of technology is another important
dimension to make it future-proof. Investment in enterprise mobility is seldom
short-term; hence, the CIO/CTO needs to study the solutions available in the
market. This is essentially to be done after taking feedback from the vendors,
either independently or with the help of independent consultants. The objective
of this exercise is to understand for each solution the availability in the
market, scalability, compatibility with current infrastructure, and suitability
to the applications planned. One cannot ignore the cost and credibility factors.
It has to be a judicial call after evaluating all pros and cons.
Security: This is another extremely important dimension
of enterprise mobility. With the opening up of applications and processes towards
mobility, the organisation invites manifold increase in the security threats.
A multi-layered security system is the basic platform in this premise. The security
system has to be robust enough to fight the challenges of remote access, guest
log-ins and so on.
Training: Proper training and education of all stakeholders
can make the implementation process smooth on various levels. It helps to manage
users expectations and ensures minimal misuse or abuse of the system.
The sensitised users are less likely to misuse or abuse the system, intentionally
or otherwise. Proper training and sharing of facts with the users also reduces
the resistance which generally comes from certain quarters of employees, especially
those whose regular way of working is hampered by the implementation.
Support: Mobility essentially means availability of
the service anytime and anywhere. A round-the-clock support system for troubleshooting
and assistance to the users is essential for proper return from the investments
towards mobility. Remember, not everybody in the organisation would be in favour
of the enterprise mobility concept and resistance from the affected people to
any such change is more of a norm than an exception. Absence of a proper support
system can only strengthen the groups opposing the drive.
Quality management: Quality management is an innate
part of any project implementation, more so for high value projects such as
enterprise mobility. Trials and piloting play a significant role in this context.
Proper documentation of the process of implementation, followed by reports on
usage and user experience, provides the opportunity to identify problems and
measure the benefits against expectations or initial goals. One needs to look
at minute details at this stage and plan for further improvement and modification.
Technology monitoring: The last, but not the least,
is regular monitoring of all technology aspects. A mobilised enterprise is generally
more heterogeneous and complex in its technology infrastructure. The heterogeneity
is due to its multi-mode, multi-standard and multi-technology characteristics
arising out of differences in client devices, applications, networks and so
on. Therefore, it demands a round-the-clock monitoring of these aspects to ensure
seamless operation across geographies.
At the end of the day, it is important to appreciate the benefits of enterprise
mobility but a smart person would also recognise the risks and challenges. The
success of an enterprise mobility project would depend on how smartly the organisation
addresses the challenges with proper homework and a methodical approach.
To address security challenges, the CIO/CTO needs
to act on five basic points:
Secure the device
- Enforce strong power-on password protection that users cant
bypass or turn off
- Remotely lock devices that are lost or stolen
- Proactively wipe data from devices when necessary
- Encrypt sensitive data
- Manage, distribute and install security patches transparently via
- Regularly back up key data from mobile devices to the corporate network
- Educate users about the importance and the means to protect their
Guard against malicious code
- Distribute and install anti-virus updates and software patches
- Monitor and enforce system and application settings each time a device
connects to the LAN, keeping track of who accesses information
Secure connections to corporate networks
- Authenticate users and devices during each connection to the corporate
- Automate an inspection that verifies compliance with security standards
for anti-virus software, patch levels and personal firewall settings
before allowing a connection
Block network-based intrusion
- Distribute, install and maintain personal firewalls transparently
via an administrator
- Enforce software settings
- Monitor intrusion attempts at every connection from the front lines
- Identify and correct weak network points to limit intrusion, with
systematic reporting and alerts via an administrator
Centralise control of policies
- Implement centrally managed security policies complete with established
written policies and corporate directories
- Audit security policies and ensure they are enforced with the use
of consistent reporting