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The ever increasing demand for access to company data on the go has compelled companies to address the complexity of application deployment, device management, security management and user support. These factors will lead mobile device policy setting to become one of the most important decisions for IT departments.
The enormous increase of smartphones since 2008 has been mainly driven by consumers who used their electronic companion to communicate, play games, manage photos, listen to music etc. Business phones at that time have been mainly feature phones or email machines like BlackBerrys: No touchscreens, no apps, just pure communication devices.
Bring-you-own-device as a new corporate mobile strategy
Giving away company smartphones to employees as incentives had a rather short positive effect for companies. Incentivized employees did not appreciate an additional device since they were used to dozens of apps on their own private devices. Companies had no chance other than allowing their employees to bring in their own device (BYOD). As of today two thirds (67%) of companies pursue this strategy, both small and large companies alike.
Original questions: “Which mobile device policy for smartphones do you use in your company?”; “How will your mobile device policy for smartphones change within the next 3 years?”.
Source: research2guidance global survey Enterprise Mobile Apps: Reality Check, Q4 2011.
The openness to use a “private” computer (in fact smartphones are small computers) within the company environment to access databases, corporate email lists and newsfeeds is astonishing if compared to the openness to use private laptops or PCs for the same purposes.
BYOD as win-win for employees as well as companies
Current mobile device policies reflect the fact that smartphones used in enterprises are largely employee-owned and not company-owned. The speed at which companies have adapted their policies to accommodate employees’ willingness to use their 500+ US$ smartphone for business purposes is impressive, but not surprising. Many companies have encountered a near win-win situation by satisfying employee desires to use their own device for email, calendaring, etc. while saving on mobile device expenditures at the same time.
Consequences of BYOD not fully clear
Our hypothesis is that IT managers did not realize the full consequences of the BYOD strategy for their company. BYOD entails a list of actions companies must pursue in order to manage the risks and business potentials, given the increased mobile experience of their employees.
- Need for a mobile policy: It is a nightmare for every IT responsible to decide case by case what devices and operating systems, applications or access will be allowed. Each company with more than 100 employees following a BYOD strategy should have a mobile policy.
- Need for new tools: The consequences of a stolen or lost device, which allows access to critical company information or a malware app the spreads a virus within the company network, could be fatal. The more employees’ devices a company has to manage the more likely this scenario grows. Not surprisingly the market for MDM (Mobile Device Management) and MEAP (Mobile Enterprise Application Management) products surged over the last 1-2 years. It is a must-have for BYOD-companies to get those tools in order to protect their assets.
- Need for mobilizing company software and processes: With the increased possibilities to access company information on-the-go the demand for access to company information and mobilization of entire company processes will increase. This trend has started within the sales and service departments and spread to other company areas like HR, innovation and controlling to only name a few. It is a must for companies to at least start an analysis to identify the cost and benefits of mobilizing the core company processes.
- Need for becoming more permeable for outside mobile solutions: The support for mobile solutions will be always suboptimal if only the company’s resources, processes and ideas are taken into account. If that hypothesis is true, companies must open up and find ways to attract developers to bring in their concepts and solutions
For more information on the enterprise app market, tools, best practices, app sourcing strategies and much more please have a look at our latest “Enterprise Mobile App Market Status Report” (or the according PPT slide set of the report).
Our assumption is that most companies have only worked partly on those needs, if at all. What do you think? Feel free to share your views.