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Building a Solid Platform For Enterprise Mobility

Chris Silva

One of the major themes in our research this year is Adaptive Organization. As we think about what makes organizations adaptive, it's not just the tools and services that they embrace but also their ability to adapt to change to stay in touch internally and to reach customers and prospects proactively. A key ingredient to making companies more adaptive is the use of mobile technology, but many organization are not yet in a position to truly capitalize on mobile due to their lack of proper mobility management strategy.

I've been talking quite a bit recently about the need for enterprises to get serious about mobile. It's not that companies are unaware of the rapid growth in demand for devices like iPhone - that's a story that's hard to miss these days - or Android devices, but they still seem willing to send their teams into the field with less than ideal tools or simply not support the growing number of mobile users they have. Why? It's because they've not yet figured out the proper way to manage mobility. Many focus on the device, and as a side-effect keep their users toting the equivalent of graphing calculators, others feel there are not yet market-ready tools to mitigate the risk from devices, their apps and the many different user types inside their organizations.

It's Time For A Comprehensive Approach, The Mobile Control Plane

What's lacking isn't the technology to manage mobile users and their devices, it's an understanding of how it should be applied. Over the past two years, as we've seen mobile penetration double in the US mobile phone owning population, the market for mobility management solutions has been awash in promises of cure-alls.

Figure 2: The Mobile Control Plane

Many of the tools at the root of said claims are mobile device management suites. These are great tools, but they cannot stand alone as the control point for all of mobile management. Enterprises need a deep backplane of policy and technology to manage mobile a stack of governance and technology we're unveiling in our most recent research report, Building A Solid Platform For Enterprise Mobility: Introducing The Mobile Control Plane

The idea behind the control plane is that it is a mix of both technology and governance. With the latter leading the former in its deployment inside of organizations. To-date, we've looked at managing mobile as a technology problem. This approach leads us to solutions like mobile device management, that provide a potential false sense of security by giving IT access to protect devices but usually not taking into account varying user types, the myriad apps they use or providing the ability for dynamic policy enforcement. These three elements are critical as we move from a world of a single type of device, provisioned only by IT, for simple tasks like on the go access to email, contacts and calendars.

Mobile Programs Have Matured Past A Single Control Point

Figure 1: Mobile Device Penetration & Use Case Maturity

We Need An Holistic Control Plane More Than Ever In creating this research, we spoke with both solution providers and those using their tools what's possible with today's tools and how best to take on managing mobility as an organization. Many organizations were well underway with displacing their first wave of mobile devices with iOS and Android devices. In addition to the general growth and growing diversity of the mobile devices themselves was the drive to bring more apps into play for users. We call this "the Dropbox problem," where users take on consumer applications to drive business process, for example using a personal Dropbox account to take business documents on the road.

This is a common use case and one that illustrates the shortcomings of "modern" mobile management as we now know it:

  • Users demand support for the devices they choose, and will find a way to get them: There are a number of consumer grade applications, whether Dropbox for file syncing or TouchDown for Exchange email access, applications abound to replicate tools that users have had in the past on devices like BlackBerries on the Android and iOS devices they use today. Users are no longer willing to carry a separate work and personal device and nearly a quarter of workers admit to using workarounds to get acces to corporate data on a personal smartphone, over 10% on tablets. (source; iPass 2012 Mobile Workforce Report) The upshot of this trend is that lacking a multi-device, application and data-aware control solution, the company is in the dark and at risk.
  • Visibility is critical, and largely absent: Device management often looks at devices as a contiguous block of data, and in an era of apps, this is simply not the case. If any data that the user in the example above stores on their Dropbox is subject to compliance, there's a breach on the company's hands and, that's only if the company is aware such data exists outside of the traditional email, contact and calendar construct of company "owned" data conduits. Application management, and hooks into tools like digital loss prevention are critical to ensure that visibility into who is doing what with data is tracked and, when built, can be blocked by policy as appropriate. Failing the implementation of data segmentation and use policy and the tools to track data usage and block it where needed mobile is, put simply, unmanaged.
  • We're past one device per person: Estimates range on the nuber of device per person we're carrying today - surely we've seen a departure from the smartphone-only user to at least a smartphone-and-tablet-toting user - but the growth in data-aware end points goes beyond just what we're carrying with us in a connected future.

The full report is available below, it's open research and I urge you to download, share, post and discuss. What's the state of your mobile control plane? What are you missing?

Building a Solid Platform for Enterprise Mobility: Introducing the Mobile Control Plane from Altimeter Group Network on SlideShare

This research report was 100% funded by Altimeter Group and published under the principle of Open Research. The report and survey data are intended for you to read, utilize, and share with others. We ask that you provide attribution to Altimeter Group.