When it comes to addressing what CIOs need to know about mobility, Gartner distinguished analyst Phillip Redman has some hard truths to tell.
Mobility trends in the enterprise represent great opportunities for the CIO who embraces them, notes Redman. At the same time, it's essential that they approach the challenges and opportunities of enterprise mobility with eyes wide open.
Redman spoke with Enterprise Efficiency in advance of his presentation on Managing Mobile Devices in the Enterprise, due to take place during Gartner Symposium/ITXpo 2012, October 21 through October 25 in Orlando, Fla. I'll be at the event, along with E2 executive editor Curt Franklin, where we'll be providing daily, live blogging and Tweeting.
Meanwhile, here are some perspectives to ponder from Gartner's Redman:
- Mobility is now a priority at enterprises. It's no longer a toy, it's a tool. There are great opportunities that come with supporting mobility, but you need to address it (rather than ignoring it).
- When it comes to mobile devices, enterprises are second-class citizens. New devices are designed for the consumer first and the enterprise second. How you handle that is critical. There is a risk to the enterprise, not just in terms of security but in terms of efficiency and how your users are supported.
- Enterprises need to take control of the mobile program, whether by using mobile device management tools, or putting policies in place. You can't let users just drive it.
These are just some of the realities that CIOs and other IT leaders need to face when it comes to handling an increasingly heterogeneous mobility environment. As we recently heard from Kevin Baradet, CTO of the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University:
What you should really be looking at doing is you manage the data and not the device. You make them access it through Web portals and you design your systems so that the data never resides on the device; it's only consumed on the device.
Redman has his own list of guidelines. For starters, he says, CIOs and other IT leaders need to put a strategy in place that's aligned with an overall view of communications lifecycle management. "Mobility doesn't sit in one area" of the enterprise, he says. "It sits in many areas. It's not one-size-fits-all and so your approach has to be variable and customized for various users."
But how do you get such a strategy started? According to Redman, it begins by understanding that there is a spectrum of choices to any mobility strategy, involving different levels of security, different applications and different levels of users. "Understand how important mobility is to your enterprise, what the business case is, and what it is that your IT team is really trying to support," he says.
When it comes to applications, not everything needs to be wirelessly enabled, no matter how loudly your business executives scream for it. "A key thing to identify is what's based on real-time need versus what's based on a non-real-time need. That will help companies evaluate what their investment levels should be."
What's the No. 1 mistake that CIOs make when it comes to mobility in the enterprise? According to Redman, "They don't look at it strategically, they look at it on a short-term basis." By taking the strategic view, CIOs will be able to gain insight into what apps and data are really needed on mobile devices, as well as understanding how cloud solutions play into enterprise mobility plans, as well as how to manage mobility across the organization.
So, with all of the above in mind, is your enterprise mobility strategy up to snuff? What areas would you like to see improved within your organization, and why?