Enterprise IT in the Mobile Era

Back in the 80s we saw IBM change the world with desktop computers with more power than the older mainframes. During the 90s we saw the dot-com movement and a mass migration from the traditional systems to browsers and web-based applications. Now, more than a decade later, we are witnessing another paradigm shift in enterprise. The constant connectivity era of mobile is here and IT departments and CIOs are scrambling to adapt to the way this new era is changing business and the world.

Years ago, Blackberry earned popularity among corporate organizations largely because of its security capabilities. Additionally, the devices were easily managed, and the connectivity was controlled by IT administrators. But now with the advent of iPhones, iPads, and other smart devices, enterprises are learning that they can no longer limit their support to the Blackberry alone. We are seeing enterprises approaching mobile device management (MDM) with new hardware and software installations that help manage a variety of devices, all of which require connectivity to their network.

Apple and Google are aware of the challenges organizations are facing and in order to build their share of the enterprise market, they are finding ways to solve the security challenge. They are developing devices that integrate into an enterprise network and enable the IT team to manage the devices more effectively. If necessary, the devices could be shut down, erased or locked. This helps insulate the organization from potential security breaches caused by employees or external individuals because all information is secured and controlled by the IT team via the wireless network. With more security features and measures like this, CIOs are feeling more confident about supporting a growing list of mobile devices.

As these challenges are addressed, we will see laptops disappearing from the enterprise landscape in favor of smart phones and tablets. Sales teams are ideal for this paradigm of shift. With connectivity to their company network, they could present product and services information, answer questions, close sales and place orders on their mobile devices, without having to lug around their laptop. While this use of mobile devices may seem inevitable, it raises questions about the use of enterprise applications. Should employees be provided with a device running company applications, or should organizations simply deploy the enterprise application to the employees’ personal smartphones? The latter idea is gaining traction and has coined the term, “bring your own device.”

The IT team and CIOs are always going to feel pressure to support the newest device. With an ever-growing list of mobile products, enterprises will have to become flexible enough to support a wide range of devices. In this sense, “bring your own device” may make the most sense. It is more cost effective, because the enterprise is not buying and upgrading devices for all of their employees; and employees often prefer to use their personal device so they are not saddled with carrying multiple phones or tablets on the field. However, employees will also have to be comfortable with a loss of privacy on their personal device. With enterprise applications running on a phone or tablet, the IT team will ultimately be in control of that device.

This decade – 2010 and beyond – is the “Mobile Era.” With advancements in connectivity that far exceed the capability of yesterday’s Blackberry, IT teams and CIOs will have to expand their mobile device management strategy to meet the technological needs of their employees.

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