Editor’s Note: Welcome to our weekly Reality Check column. We’ve gathered a group of visionaries and veterans in the mobile industry to give their insights into the marketplace.
The onward march of mobile devices and apps is a strong indicator of the increasing maturity of the mobile market. But with that maturity comes an ever greater need for better management and security of devices and systems. A new report from IDC forecasts that this year, smartphone shipments will exceed one billion worldwide for the first time, a 40% rise compared to 2012 and double the half-billion units shipped just two years ago. Many of those smartphones will likely be used in the workplace as part of the bring-your-own-device trend that has helped turn mobility into a core component of enterprise IT infrastructure.
The fact that enterprise mobility is reaching maturity is reflected by the expectation from employees and customers that they can use mobile devices as transparently and readily as they would any strategic enterprise client-server desktop application.
“Enterprise mobile is fast maturing from a niche tool to become a core business platform,” said Kevin Noonan, public sector technology research director at Ovum, in a new release. “As organizations become increasingly mobile, there is a growing need for secure business systems.”
At the heart of the enterprise, however, there are considerable challenges as IT departments strive to put in place mobile software applications that go far beyond support for email. One such challenge is how to adapt existing enterprise applications to work seamlessly and securely with a wide range of different and evolving mobile operating systems, platforms and devices—something that many software and service companies are working to address. By 2016, for example, Gartner expects many collaboration applications will be equally available on desktops, mobile phones, tablets and browsers.
Mobility is an easily adaptable personal productivity tool that enables employees and customers to manage workflow, human interactions and data access in ways, and at times, that suit them. In that respect it is a double-edged sword: Employees can adapt consumer applications to improve productivity at work, but they are just as likely to use their mobile devices interchangeably for work and personal applications with little regard for security. Indeed, there is no guarantee that they will follow, and comply with, company policies and procedures.
As a result, enterprises need to be flexible. They need to act now to put in place a coherent, end-to-end mobile device management and security strategy. And they need to implement the application and content management skills that will enable them to adapt swiftly and securely to change in IT usage, as enterprise mobility approaches maturity.