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What Price Are You Paying for Mobility?

Created: 27 Nov 2012 • Translations available: 日本語
Will Redfield's picture
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In today’s environment, most companies are looking for ways to improve the efficiency of their operations while keeping costs as low as possible. Technology is a great way to achieve that. However, some organizations make the mistake of introducing new technologies, without fully considering the effect they may have on the business. One potential risk is around mobility. Whether they are corporate- or employee-owned, letting employees work on smartphones and tablets can make them more productive. But we’re so busy looking at those benefits that we fail to notice what it’s costing us – and those costs are rising.

A survey by Osterman Research illustrates the problem. According to the survey, the annual IT labor cost to support mobile devices is expected to rise by 15 percent over the next year. That’s not a surprise, since more people are using these devices all the time. The number of employees using smartphones in medium and large organizations will jump from 41 to 50 percent in the same period. How then do we control these rising costs to make mobility work for the business? The key is to intelligently manage these devices, reducing support costs as well as potentially lowering the expenses that result from data breaches.

How do we do that? One of the most effective tools available today is mobile device management. MDM gives you as much control as you need over the devices. MDM simplifies resource delivery through tools such as a corporate apps store. It also lets IT implement and configure security controls to keep information safe after delivery. The enterprise can also remotely lock and wipe mobile devices that are lost or stolen, giving them total control over the lifecycle of the device.

But what about employee-owned smartphones? Lately we’re hearing all about BYOD, as employees use the same device for personal and business needs. Employees don’t want their IT department to have total control over devices that they own.  Many companies allow BYOD, but can then wipe the entire device—including the employee’s personal information—if they leave.  Not only that, many organizations don’t have the resources for total management of every employee’s device. In that case, mobile application management, or MAM, is another option. MAM gives administrators application-level access to the device, enclosing business apps within their own layer of security. They still have controls such as authentication, encryption and expiration, but they use them at the application level, without interfering with personal apps and data. MAM can also be combined with MDM as an additional layer of security on managed devices, to keep data from being sent from a trusted app to an untrusted one.

Even with these information protection solutions in place, threat protection is still a valuable tool for mobile devices. According to Symantec’s latest Internet Security Threat Report, mobile vulnerabilities increased by 93 percent in 2011. Mobile threat protection can keep devices safe from malware and spam, and these solutions offer another advantage by helping devices conform to regulatory requirements.

We have a simple goal as we use mobile devices for work: keep costs low and productivity high. And it shouldn’t matter whether the devices are employee- or corporate-owned. Adjust your focus to keep your information safe wherever it is stored and accessed. Then you can worry less about the infrastructure, which can give you peace of mind even as more information moves outside of the corporate firewall.