Security Concerns Are Biggest Barrier to Enterprise Mobility Deployments

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London — May 22
Apple’s iPhone has reignited the debate over “consumerization” — when new technologies are introduced into the consumer market and then brought into the enterprise market with employees determined to integrate their personal devices with their enterprise applications. However, IT managers are reluctant to take on the responsibility of managing these devices.

This is according to a new report by independent market analyst Datamonitor. The report, “Enterprise Mobility: Trend Analysis to 2012,” predicts global enterprise expenditure on mobile devices will grow from $6 billion today to an estimated $17 billion by 2012, which highlights the need for IT managers to begin to implement mobile device policies as ever more enterprises look to expand their mobile workforces.

“Enterprises are fighting a losing battle against employees when it comes to mobile devices, and they should consider supporting a limited selection of devices rather than banning them outright”, said Daniel Okubo, technology analyst with Datamonitor and the report's author. “Allowing a range of the most popular devices will improve employee satisfaction and encourage more of them to embrace mobile devices and improve their productivity when away from the office.”

Enterprises are understandably concerned about ensuring the security of their data. In a survey conducted by Datamonitor to establish issues preventing enterprises from investing in mobility solutions, the majority of the 467 respondents rated security as the greatest barrier to adoption of mobility solutions.

Traditionally, enterprises have allocated devices, such as the BlackBerry, to employees to enable them to check their e-mail and be responsive when they are away from the office. However, as other mobile devices such as the iPhone are increasingly popular among end users, enterprises are finding employees want to be able to integrate their personal device with their corporate e-mail account and other applications.

For many people, the mobile device is a personal thing they want to customize and keep on their person. They do not want one device for personal use and an IT-issued device for work.

IT Managers Need Policies in Place

So far very few IT departments have yielded to these requests and are refusing to be responsible for managing such a wide variety of mobile devices. However, the iPhone has set a new standard for device userability and the trend of consumerization will continue.

“There is an element of fear of the unknown,” said Okubo. “Enterprises question how security will be managed and whether mobility technologies will fit into their current IT infrastructure. Technology vendors have a role to play by properly addressing enterprise pain points. ”

The key issue is that regardless of device, IT managers need to ensure they have a clear policy on mobile devices and at least the basic security capabilities to lock devices remotely, wipe them back to their factory setting and block certain applications being loaded. Employees must be made aware that it is important to report lost or stolen devices immediately, and they should not use their mobile devices to transfer sensitive company data.

Carriers Offer Device-Management Solutions
Carriers such as Vodafone realize the problems many enterprises face in managing devices and have started offering hosted device-management solutions. This means if an employee loses a phone he or she can call an operator to wipe or lock it. Similarly, if their phone is “broken,” an employee can contact an operator who can remotely diagnose and fix it and install updates.

IT managers should ensure they have these capabilities either through traditional security vendors such as Sybase, or for smaller enterprises, a hosted solution from a carrier may be more efficient.

Okubo concluded: “As more enterprises look to expand their mobile workforces and equip their employees with mobile devices, the issue of device management is going to become increasingly important. The popularity of mobile devices in the consumer markets is forcing enterprises to consider how best to manage these devices in the workplace, and they need to ensure they have clear policies in place to manage employee expectations.” 

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