The Enterprise Mobility journey

By Cat Yong

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.

The application roadmap
The hard decisions include deciding the enterprise-level apps that workers can have. A few like email are no-brainers; the ROI for employees spending 30 minutes every day on email while out in the field, could be realized within days.

Manik opined, “A lot of tablets today are showing the wave of the future – dock it in at work, and undock it to take it home. Apps could potentially be documents, workflows, some analytics, news, social media with collaboration and CRM.”

Organizations like SAP, use a mix of their own applications as well, and Manik added, “The question of one or more app (for one function) is a journey towards maturity that enterprises have to discover. But to get traction, pick use cases that resonate most with users and LOBs and get their feedback. Then build the next app and evolve the roadmap as you go along.”

Sometime point solutions have tremendous benefits of responsiveness, for example budget approvals. With an applications roadmap in place, there would be understanding of what the apps to be built in the long run are, and there is potential for a bigger, consolidated ‘suite’ of all these point solutions, later on.

HCL’s Naresh pointed out that apps need to be checked and certified as compliant with policies before deployment.

“Many people miss the fact that refresh cycle for apps and devices is less than 90 days. There has to be a dedicated department to rapidly refresh because customer requirements can keep changing.”

Having the option of managed mobility as an operating expense instead of only as one big huge sunken cost, is something that finance departments can welcome.

Manik said that enterprise app stores are also turning out to be one of best ways to deploy apps, and with the required security parameters too. He added, “Application developers need to think about different devices and operating systems, If an organization is of sufficient size to have internal enterprise store, it helps the organization manage and get feedback in consistent way about what works… this can help steer the enterprise mobility in the right direction.”

More non-tech than anything
Manik opined BYOD is more of a non-IT issue than most may like to think.

“The same infrastructure is used to manage BYOD, and BYOD involves legal, HR and finance departments.

“It is a consent form where employees accept the terms and conditions set by SAP and SAP holds the right to wipe the devices regardless of what is on it.”

Different countries have different legal and privacy laws, that HR and legal have to make provisions for in order to protect the organization’s intellectual property, and be regulatory-compliant. Finance and HR also have to have clear procedures about how to reimburse employees who take up mobile data plans, or plan for potential downtime costs when devices are sent back to vendors for servicing.

From an SI point of view, Naresh shared, “A lot of organizations miss out Governance, Regulation and Compliance (GRC). Any new roll out has to sync up with the legal team, especially in regulated industries like banking, healthcare and telcos. Intellectual laws are so fluid that a slight misstep could result in criminal arrests!”

Vertical domain expertise becomes a must.

The first step toward enterprise mobility: Buy in and best practices
In any case BYOD will never work if there is no buy in from the CIO, the business and key people in the organization, opined Manik.

For SAP, enterprise mobility is a phased gradual roadmap with 3 year plan of milestones to be achieved, including device, infrastructure and applications. Manik shared, “It is not a one-off project and needs a sustainable budget every year.”

But, when the use case for mobility isn’t as obvious as it may seem for SAP, how do organizations get the buy in they need from the relevant stakeholders?

Naresh recommended taking a business pain point and building a small-contained Proof of Concept (PoC) for a use case with defined model on how it could be taken to ROI. “Assemble a cross model team with a business user as a steering member, a solution architect in there and program manage it.”

While there have been a lot of examples and case studies about the potential cost savings or the potential revenues that come from enterprise mobility, the cost of NOT having an enterprise mobility plan is usually overlooked.

Manik rightly pointed out, “A lot business cases miss the cost of not having enterprise mobility. And it’s hard to calculate.

“But a lot of young talent still in universities at the moment, would balk at working for companies that do not enable technologies and trends like mobility for its workforce.”

Enterprise mobility becomes an important factor to future-proof an organization from missing out on the best and brightest minds that later become available in the job market.

(This article first appeared on Network World Asia)

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