Editor's note: Jay Shutter is managing director in the Austin, Texas, office of research firm Illuminas.
Mobility and BYOD (bring your own device) are very real and very important to any business today – they are not just hype. For the less sophisticated business, mobility is fairly straightforward. Using a laptop and VPN to con-nect to a corporate network to access data (and e-mail) has been around for many years and is something even small companies can provide. Providing employees with anytime-anywhere access to e-mail and calendar on smart phones, tablets or through a browser has also become significantly easier because of the evolution of both e-mail and mobile platforms. However, as an organization grows and becomes more complex in terms of number of locations, employees and IT infrastructure, architecting and managing mobility and BYOD becomes more difficult and more critical. Business leaders and employees are demanding increased mobile access to applications and data and IT organizations must respond while at the same time keeping networks and data secure.
At its core, mobility and BYOD are ultimately about employee productivity and innovation and is being driven by the consumer-employee. Consumers, many of whom are enterprise employees, have embraced digital life-styles. They all have PCs at home; they all have smartphones and tablets; many of them use video messaging services to talk to family and friends; and certainly all of them use text-messaging or other messaging solutions to communicate. With all of these capabilities available to the average consumer (employee), it is no wonder that they would expect their employer to provide the same types of services for them to do their jobs. The consumerization of IT is a real and meaningful phenomenon.
In light of this evolving work environment, San Jose, Calif., networking technology firm Cisco commissioned Illuminas to conduct in-depth research to gain a better understanding of what is driving the need for enterprise mobility and BYOD and how IT organizations are delivering it. Do organizations have a mobility strategy or are they just reacting to employee and organizational demands without any coherent plan in place? How far are organizations pushing mobility and anytime-anywhere access? Are they developing applications or making current applications available via mobile devices?
To address these questions and more, we worked closely with Cisco to develop an online quantitative survey that was conducted first in the U.S. and subsequently in key international countries selected to represent the European and emerging markets regions. The U.S. survey was approximately 25 minutes and was conducted among 400 IT decision-makers from a variety of industries. Only senior-level IT employees who are actively involved in decision-making for mobile devices, solutions and services were allowed entry into the survey. Since the focus of the study was on enterprise mobility, the vast majority of IT decision-makers surveyed were required to work for a company with 1,000 or more employees and over half of the organizations surveyed indicated having offices or branches in multiple countries around the world.
The research findings compiled here represent the U.S. results only.
Clear impact on implementation
The study revealed that 51 percent of organizations have an enterprise-wide mobility strategy in place with clearly defined initiatives, while 49 percent do not. Having a formal strategy in place has a clear impact on implementation, as the vast majority (63 percent) of those with a strategy say integrating mobility solutions is easy and straightforward, while just 43 percent of those without a strategy in place can say the same.
The primary mobility initiatives in place among enterprise organizations today are mobile security (78 percent), followed closely by mobile device management (65 percent) and VPN access (64 percent). Given these specific initiatives, it is no surprise that the primary focus of mobility today is on supporting employees rather than cus-tomers; almost all organizations surveyed are focusing on providing mobility solutions to their workforce (97 per-cent), while only 38 percent have mobile initiatives that support customers. With such a clear focus on employee mobility, it makes sense then that the top perceived benefits of mobility are increased productivity (72 percent), increased business efficiencies (70 percent) and cost savings (59 percent).
Limited to basic applications
While it is clear that organizations are focused on driving employee mobility initiatives, the functionalities being extended to mobile devices are still relatively limited to basic applications such as e-mail, calendar, intranet and collaboration applications. Much of the more sophisticated functionality employees have access to in the office or on their laptops (file server access, custom business applications, enterprise applications, unified communications, virtualized desktops, etc.) is still only offered via smartphone or tablet by a small percentage of enterprise organizations.
The lack of mobile support across more sophisticated enterprise applications may be due to form factor, in that many of these applications simply haven’t been developed for mobile yet. While organizations surveyed indicated that 31 percent of their enterprise applications today have been adapted for mobile devices, this is expected to increase by over 30 percent in the next year as organization continue fueling their internal mobile initiatives.
Despite the evidence that many organizations are actively increasing their employee mobility solutions, these initiatives do not come without their challenges. By a wide margin, as shown in Figure 1, the chief concern of IT leaders across the country is managing security risks across mobile devices (64 percent). In fact, 44 percent of organizations say managing security risks is enough of a challenge to prevent them from moving forward with a mobility initiative. The other most-cited challenges of employee mobility include increased IT infrastructure costs (49 percent) and challenges associated with delivering a secure, consistent experience across devices (46 per-cent).
Include customers in future strategies
While only 38 percent of enterprise organizations are currently supporting customers with mobility initiatives, the benefits of doing so may compel more organizations to include customers in their future mobility strategies.
Today, those supporting customer mobility are primarily focused on building relationships: using mobile solu-tions to drive increased customer satisfaction (76 percent) and customer loyalty (73 percent) and to improve brand recognition (66 percent). Less than half (44 percent) of enterprise organizations who currently support customer mobility are doing so to encourage purchases but almost all (85 percent) plan to implement functionality that will enable sales in the future.
Just as security is the No. 1 challenge for employee mobility, 68 percent of those currently supporting customer mobility recognize that protecting and securing their customer data is their primary concern. Despite these security concerns, supporting customer-centric mobility initiatives is seen as key to business success as the majority of organizations with a customer mobile strategy believe supporting their customers’ devices and delivering mobile applications to customers is important (72 percent and 80 percent, respectively).
Provide the best tools
From the organizational perspective, collaboration and communication tools continue to evolve, as does the organizational approach to collaboration. More and more organizations will embrace video and messaging collaboration and in turn make those tools available to employees from any location and on any device. In order to attract and retain the best talent, organizations are recognizing the need to provide the best productivity and collaboration tools as well as the flexible work policies that are needed in today’s market. With all of these forces converging, the mobility of applications, data and resources (phone, video, etc.) will become more and more important to the organization and more and more complicated to manage and secure.
We believe that in five years’ time, the enterprise information worker will have a virtual office space (PC, phone, video, etc.) that will be available to them anytime, anywhere and on any device (device limitations not withstanding). Improvements in public infrastructure will significantly improve bandwidth and reduce latency issues for mobility. The net effect for businesses will be increased employee productivity and satisfaction and for those organizations that harness mobility and collaboration for innovation, increased growth, revenue and profitability.
Seamless and efficient connections
Five years on, enterprise mobility will of course impact customers in a more significant way. Whether on a mobile device in the retail location or on a mobile device anywhere, customers will have more seamless and efficient connections directly to enterprise organizations – connections that create a whole new level of relationship with the customer. Organizations (business, government, education, non-profit, etc.) will be able to not only deliver customer service at a whole new level (think video chat and mobile access to experts) but, through the power of big data and the Internet of Everything, will be able to anticipate customer needs. All of these abilities to strengthen and improve customer relationships will be driven by mobility, whether we are talking about data mobility, employee mobility or the ability to leverage mobile technology to connect directly to customers on their mobile devices.