The enterprise mobility journey

An enterprise mobility future state seems inevitable, said Frost & Sullivan’s Industry Principal Shailendra Soni as he opened the Malaysian leg of Questex’s Enterprise Mobility Forum.

Internet traffic by mobile devices surpassed desktop traffic last year in April, not to mention there are other emerging trends that add their weight behind the argument for enterprise mobility like machine-2-machine, cloud computing, BYOD and BYOA, he explained.

According to Soni, the smartphone is not just employees’ preferred companion, but their preferred productivity tool as well. He explained, “They would find ways to make that mobile device work with third-party apps and cloud services.”

End-to-end mobile enablement

And yet, there are potholes along the way to this enterprise mobility nirvana.

One of its drivers, BYOD, only had 34% of surveyed IT heads saying they have a policy in place, and even then not necessarily for the whole organization. Business-critical apps like CRM and BI are also still being accessed predominantly on desktops, even though there are mobile versions.

More significantly, there are still unresolved challenges of having to manage various mobile platforms, the thousands of apps downloaded on it and security of each and every device.

There is also a huge disconnect between how employees see themselves using mobiles in the workplace and organizations viewing mobiles as just an add-on to what is already in place.

SAP’s Regional CIO for Asia Pacific and Japan, Manik Narayan Saha drew from SAP’s own mobility journey, “(The organization) has to have a mobile first mindset.” He explained that this meant not allowing themselves to be locked into any platform by being device-agnostic.

For system integrators like Naresh Nagarajan, Senior Vice President & Head of Customer Experience Management, Enterprise Transformation Services at HCL Technologies, mobility was just a means to an end. “Irrespective of channel, mobile does not matter if you do have a single view of your customer and what delights him/her,” he added.

SAP’s view is that a mobile security policy has to go hand-in-hand with an organization’s corporate policy. “Have profiles and parameters around the device itself,” Manik said, “The businesses should also think about device APIs for mobile device management solutions to potentially hook into, besides also encryption level of each device, and access permissions to data.”

An end-to-end approach means also services to help IT departments manage security, for example data wipes when devices are lost or stolen.

SAP’s internal mobility experience saw them needing 2.5 times more bandwidth compared to five years ago, as a result of more information coming through the pipe.

But, Manik added, mobile enablement doesn’t mean a free for all.

SAP went down the Choose-Your-Own-Device (CYOD) road whereby employees could select only from a list of tested and qualified devices and mobile platforms. “You have to take hard decisions sometimes. We can’t compromise standards of data protection, and it’s a balance that has to be struck,” explained Manik.