Techbeat: Mobilising the enterprise
13 October 2015 | 0
“The capacity may exist in house,” he said, “but the systems and policies also need to be put in place. That is where a mobile device management system can play a valuable role in identifying and implementing the necessary systems and policies. It can then be managed in house or outsourced if required.”
When asked about mobile device management (MDM) systems, a very worrying 58% said they did not use one. The popular MDM systems in use were Airwatch (13%), Citrix (10%) and Mobile Iron (8%), with Microsoft Intune at 3%.
Nicola Mortimer, head of business product, marketing and operations, Three Ireland, said that with 77% of respondents stating that security of mobile devices is a concern for them, it was surprising to see that 58% do not have a mobile management system.
“Whilst security and control is paramount,” said Mortimer, “it is also important that the benefits of mobility are not negated by the management system in place. We must not lose sight of the increases in flexibility and productivity that mobility allows so when we look to develop a MDM system for a customer, it’s about striking a balance between maintaining these benefits, whilst managing the security and operational requirements.
“For example, Cork City Council operates more than 200 smart devices, from smart phones to tablets, using a range of operating systems. The devices are loaned to Council staff for business purposes in the interests of the Cork public.
“The council was benefiting from the productivity created by these devices but they were experiencing business challenges in managing them. Firstly, the security risk if a device was lost or stolen, secondly, the management and control of each device with users having the ability to download personal apps that could pose a risk to the device and the reconfiguration of devices and roll out of new or updated apps or systems.
“The Council required an integrated approach that allowed their staff to be fully productive, while addressing these IT security and management concerns. The implementation of this system provided seamless integrated email, browser, data sharing and support apps and IT gains control over mobile devices with full configuration, security, provisioning and support capabilities.
“The MDM system,” said Mortimer, “has freed up a lot of IT time to focus on core business critical issues. The solution has not only reduced the cost, hassle and time of managing our device fleet but boosted data security and peace of mind.”
Perhaps most surprising of all was the issue of content restrictions on mobile devices. Nearly three quarters (72%) said there were no restrictions, while a further 16% did not know. Of those that had restrictions notable ones were app installation limitations, social media, streaming and other web site restrictions.
Mortimer said it was surprising that the levels of content restriction seen on business laptops and PCs were not extended to mobile devices.
“Organisations can no longer think of mobile devices as different to PCs and laptops,” warned Mortimer, “they now can hold and have access to the same sensitive data and so the same necessary steps need to be taken to protect them from viruses and malware.
“Some employees can often feel that, as this is the device they use for personal use, there should be no restriction to content. However, the risk cannot be underestimated. A solution that many of our customers are implementing is having a separate business and personal profile on their handset which allows more stringent restrictions to be applied to the business profile without affecting the personal use,” she said.
A final positive note was around IT budget expectations, with 57% expecting an increase next year, and just 7% expecting a decrease, with the rest expecting no change.
Despite the obvious benefits that Irish organisations enjoy with mobile technologies and working, it is clear that more needs to be done on the management and security aspects. The lack of device management systems, lack of content controls, or awareness of same, all point to a somewhat ad hoc approach that needs to be formalised into an enterprise mobility strategy to ensure that the benefits of these technologies do not end being overcome by the potential threat from lost or stolen devices and inappropriate use.
The genie is most certainly out of the bottle when it comes to mobility in enterprise, but we need to work to ensure it is bestowing good wishes, not threatening with the curses of data loss, leakage or entry points for hackers.