Dave Schuette, Evp & President Enterprise Business, Synchronoss Technologies [Nasdaq:Sncr]
To the outsider, enterprise mobility seems to be one of the easiest objectives for an IT team. Provide or equip devices with access to the network and suitable tools, and individual productivity increases. Simple. But productivity is nothing if it is not secure, especially given the modern threat landscape and 2016 being littered with reports of high profile breaches, cyber attacks, and misplaced data. And then what about the data that employees generate simply from using the device? Insights born from how, where and when individuals use their devices are extremely powerful for making efficiency decisions—and such context can even be used to support security. Synchronoss therefore considers mobility in enterprise maturity to be comprised of three pillars: Productivity, Security, and Contextuality.
Security incorporates a range of separate ingredients and should be the foundation upon which an organization builds its mobility strategy. After all, any improvements in productivity and business performance from better use of mobility are worthless if your devices and data are vulnerable to theft or malicious internal or external attacks.
Security levels in organizations vary from no device protection at all, to relying on native OS-based security functionality, such as a password, PIN number or biometric reader (for fingerprints or similar) on the device. Some will require a username and password to access selected apps or on-device containers.
More advanced organizations will roll out multi-factor authentication to their staff’s devices that require an extra level of authentication such as a token. This additional requirement of course risks being an obstacle for the user, so even more advanced is to compare current usage of the device against the context of how, when, and where the device is usually used to identify whether the additional requirement is necessary.
Finally, the ultimate aspiration is to have sufficiently robust device security in place that staff can use their device itself to authenticate their identity to access external assets or data sources —everything from an encrypted LAN or VPN to actual physical premises.
Improved productivity is the key objective of mobility, therefore measuring the degree and variety of benefits delivered is a crucial part of assessing an organization’s maturity.
The ultimate aspiration is to have sufficiently robust device security in place
The most basic deployments will hinge on providing simple mobility productivity, using remote email, calendar, and other PIM tools. Integration with each other and with other apps will be limited (if at all), and so tangible productivity gains will be minimal.
To boost productivity, organizations will look to provide mobility tools that enable secure information-sharing plus internal business process functionality. These range from approval requests to access management and adding comments to documents.
Advanced versions of these tools will integrate firstly with standard mobile apps like email and PIM, and also with the business’s own proprietary apps, whether they have been designed for a certain department or line of business, or for the entire organization.
The most advanced productivity solutions within mobility allow employees to share information beyond simple email processes—not only within the organization, among discrete teams and departments but also externally, with partners, suppliers, and customers.
Ideally, these advanced productivity solutions also extend to freelancers and other contract workers that are part of the “gig economy”, but do so in a way that doesn’t compromise data security or wider productivity.
Most enterprise mobility solutions are limited in their scope and they offer little visibility into how mobile devices are being used—and by extension, how or even if employees are benefiting from mobility.
Rather than focusing on TEM data—which is where many enterprises believe mobility begins and ends—enterprises should shift their focus to gathering information on device usage. Where and when devices are used, which apps are most popular or useful, and how data is shared.
This is not a case of ‘big brother’ type workforce monitoring to keep tabs on staff. Instead, it’s about gathering and analyzing contextual data to measure progress—perhaps against departmental KPIs—and to also improve internal processes and ways of working.
By analyzing how workers use their mobile device—when they use it, what apps and features they use, what data and files they access—organizations can examine the results and compare them with the scores of high-performing departments, teams or individuals.
In this way, they can hopefully identify best practices that might otherwise have been overlooked. They can replicate the practices across the wider organization as a means to improve its overall effectiveness.
Forward-thinking organizations will take this process a step further. Along with mobility data taken from the device, they’ll also incorporate data from other sources, such as line of business datasets and even connected IoT sensors in their analysis.
Striking the balance
Organizations need to carefully align all three elements of enterprise mobility—security, productivity, and contextuality—in order to deliver the most advanced and beneficial enterprise mobility strategy. Any strategy that an organization adopts must be capable of delivering the security enterprises need without compromising on the productivity employees want, and using contextuality to achieve the highest levels of both.