IDC analysts who spoke at the Computerworld IT Roadmap event, held across the three cities of Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi unequivocally emphasized the importance of enterprise mobility and the benefits an organization can hope to derive from it.
"The debate is no longer around whether to enable a mobile workforce. It's more about deciding which devices to support, who gets access to what, and how to develop the infrastructure that is needed to support these devices," said Venu Reddy, Research Director, IDC India.
According to IDC, the major factors influencing the uptake of enterprise mobility solutions are productivity gains and job satisfaction; a not so major inhibitor is the infrastructure costs associated with having to support the mobility solutions. "The mobile workforce is becoming a norm," said Shalil Gupta, Consulting and Insights Director, IDC India.
IDC believes that the influx of the wide variety of devices and platforms, along with the more recent concept of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD), is adding another interesting spin to mobility.
Pointing out that it is not about enabling a single device or allowing a senior employee on a one-off basis, Reddy says, "It is about proactively designing IT to function seamlessly across multiple platforms and devices. Mobility is a disruptive innovation."
As pointed out by the analysts, IT departments are not very enthused by this trend because they have to ensure that information accessed on these personal devices adheres to corporate policy and meets the infrastructure demands which would consequently need an overhaul to accommodate the new age devices. Gupta says, "But organizations should look at BYOD as trigger to enable flexibility."
As IDC says, there are CIOs who hate this wave because it forces them to rethink their infrastructure and the way they are supporting it. "It is an opportunity to take these solutions and leap ahead of the competition," added Reddy.
Viewed in isolation, enabling enterprise mobility could seem like a daunting task, "but in the context of cloud, mobility becomes a more realistic solution rather than either of them in isolation," said Reddy. As the IDC analysts put it, being cognizant of the risks involved, organizations need to take steps to mitigate those concerns and drive the business benefits out of the initiatives.
But mobility is not a one-time fix, as pointed out by Gupta who says, "It is a continuous process of making sure that the infrastructure and the policies are kept to up to date so that the employees and the partners can continue to benefit from it."
IDC believes that employee satisfaction brought about by the flexibility provided by mobility will help the enterprises. Organizations, IDC cautioned, however need to avoid the trap of being caught up in how the solutions were rolled out at other organizations. "Focus on the business value and the needs that drive you to adoption and try and facilitate those areas," suggested Reddy.
Any implementation, from IDC's viewpoint, no matter how thought-through, will inevitably fail if the top brass wasn't tuned into it from the very start. As Gupta put it, "Getting the right stakeholders at the early stages to support the initiative is very important."
IDC feels that enterprises need to look at enterprise mobility from a solutions perspective and not just as a product issue. "The integration of the application and devices is complex and needs to be understood in detail," added Reddy.
Vulnerabilities, IDC feels, creep in because security has generally been an afterthought and is patched up on top of the solution after it has been designed. Recently, IDC has noticed that people have started including security as an aspect in the initial design of the infrastructure. "Making security a process is a mindset that can be achieved when solution has a good backing of the top management, business users and vendor partners," said Reddy.
The issues around loss of device and the consequent threat to the data that resides on it are a thing of the past, as Gupta states, "Security is being taken care of."
In conclusion the analysts believe that once all that is said and done, it will depend on the organizations to decide who they need to enable with these facilities. As Reddy suggests, "If it doesn't make sense to thrust BYOD policies on all your 25,000 employees, then take it with only the top 1000 executives where it makes the most business sense."