First published: February 2007
By David Perry
Mobile access to business systems represents a new opportunity for business improvement, but often translates to a headache for IT. Working through the myriad of middleware and devices to develop a coherent platform strategy can be a challenge. This is further complicated by the personal nature of mobile devices which means that unlike other areas of IT, it is also necessary to deal with the strong and often very diverse views and opinions expressed by users. However, unravelling the dependencies has now become an important prerequisite for moving forward in a secure and cost-effective manner.
Users tell us mobile access is not just useful, it creates business advantage
Being “always connected”, is becoming indispensable to many business users. Instant response to key emails and technical support issues are significant benefits, as is participating in general email chatter.
The benefits have traditionally only been available to a privileged few, but this is changing
The benefits of mobile access have traditionally been restricted to a minority of workers, such as senior management and sales staff, but there is very clear evidence of broader use beginning to develop.
Deployment to those who have been given mobile access has been less than ideally controlled
Because of its early adoption by elite users, mobile data culture has developed in a haphazard fashion in many organisations, with little or no control over client devices, user training, or policy for the protection of sensitive company data.
Despite the requirement to tighten things up, outside advice is rarely sought
The research shows there is little use of outside experts in the development of policy in areas such as device strategy. This may slow down organisations as they seek to move activity onto a firmer footing.
The changing supplier landscape is opening up new options and opportunities
After bolstering the mobile capability of Exchange, Microsoft’s mindshare now matches RIM in the battle for strategic future platforms in the enterprise, and is already much higher among smaller organisations.
But handsets are still an issue, and business users want suppliers to listen to them more
Short product lifecycles frustrate companies that have a controlled policy of mobile application deployment. Manufacturers have an opportunity to create more loyalty through better engagement.
Meanwhile, business requirements continue to evolve
A trend towards the broadening of application access beyond mobile email places further emphasis on the need for properly managed device and server-side strategies that can scale to match the needs of the business while protecting corporate information and meeting compliance requirements.
The relatively uncontrolled nature of early deployments of mobile email has in many cases established a flawed foundation for enterprise application access into the future. Organisations must introduce more structure to mobile deployments so their full value to the business is unlocked in a sustainable fashion.
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