The real staying on top of new risks and threats, and giving IT the resources to properly monitor devices and networks.

Challenges from 'The Mobile Workplace'

Date: August 22nd, 2014
Author: Tyler Munn
Tags: mobility, challenges, communication, resources, security, management

The following is an excerpt from Powernet’s latest white paper, “The Mobile Workplace: How Businesses are Embracing Mobility to Improve Key Performance Indicators.” You can download the full white paper here.

The benefits [of mobile adoption] are clear and quantifiable, but reaching mobile enterprise maturity isn’t all roses. Businesses face several challenges on the path to mobile success. 

Security and Device Management
Mobile adoption definitely puts a strain on IT departments. With an ever-increasing number of devices to account for, it’s no surprise that 41% of IT professionals ranked mobility as one of their top three IT risks1. This makes device management one of the biggest barriers in building a mobile enterprise -- 59% of SMBs cite lost or stolen devices as their top mobile concern2, and only 27% of all companies believe their mobile security is adequate3.  Still, security solutions, systems and software exist to curb the risks associated with mobile adoption. The real challenge companies face is staying on top of new risks and threats, and giving IT the resources to properly monitor devices and networks.

Physical and geographic barriers will always present a challenge, regardless of the quality of the systems put in place to overcome them. At the end of the day, an out-of-office employee can’t simply walk over to a co-worker’s desk if they need something from that person. You can call or email all you want, but that doesn’t mean the person on the other end is going to answer quickly, if at all. 

Mobility leaves employees more free to communicate with co-workers on their own time, which can be a positive or negative depending on the urgency of the situation being communicated about and the responsiveness of the worker being communicated to. Technology provides people a means to connect; if and when they choose to connect is up to them.

Similar to security and device management, mobility can put a strain on resources, whether that’s in manpower, hours, hardware, software or cold, hard cash. IT staff are needed to secure and maintain the mobile infrastructure, limiting their ability to manage other aspects of the company’s technology systems. This is why hosted communication solutions are becoming increasingly popular among businesses with mobile ambitions -- they alleviate some of the burden on IT support staff.

If the company decides to provide mobile devices to employees, whether in addition to or in lieu of BYOD, that’s obviously going to cost money as well. Providing devices, however, can eliminate or minimize issues with device and network integration, in turn reducing demand on IT staff. It’s a balancing act businesses need to evaluate and manage on an individual basis in order to maximize the value of mobile adoption. 

Employee Management and Oversight
This is an issue that comes down to trust. Do you trust employees to get their work done and even be proactive in working ahead or taking on new projects without direct supervision? Mobile employees have great freedom, but as the saying goes, with great freedom comes great responsibility. Every business is under pressure to hire quality employees that fit the company and the role, but mobile enterprises may be under even more pressure to do so given the higher level of responsibility its employees are expected to demonstrate.

Want to read more about enterprise mobility? The full white paper is available here.

1 State of Mobility Survey. Symantec, 2012.
2“Mobilizing for Success: Boosting the Power of Business Applications with Mobile Solutions,” Laurie McCabe, Sanjeev Aggarwai and Dwight Davis. SMB Group, 2011.
3“CIO Attitudes Toward Consumerization of Mobile Devices and Applications,” Nick Jones. Gartner, 2011.