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Taking Your Company to the Mobility New Age

A Daunting Trend Full of Benefits

BYOD is definitely one of the most significant trends affecting the enterprise; it is not only that the employees want to use their Smartphone and tablets at work, but the applications they are running in the corporate network and the information that is flowing within it.

The employees are using their devices and running their apps in the corporate network with or without the IT area consent. Even though some companies are ignoring the trend for a while they definitely won't be able to escape the BYOD tsunami. It is true that BYOD brings a lot of challenges for the ITs and the enterprise in general; however, what may even be more interesting is that it also brings many opportunities to increase both, the employees and the organization's productivity.

Embracing BYOD has the potential of changing the complete organization's nature, giving the working teams, an arsenal of new tools to improve the costumer experience and service levels, turning these companies into "New Age Enterprises". Meaning, an enterprise transformed by a mobile strategy, from HR to sales, operations, marketing, and internal communications. This enables the whole company to become much more agile and productive; driving innovation and turning the entire company into a fast moving customer satisfaction monster.

Where BYOD Stands
BYOD is everywhere, in theory; the reality is that few companies have truly embraced a BYOD strategy. Few CIOs have a real budget and authorized plan to move forward with the creation of such strategy and the definition of BYOD and mobility policies within the organization's areas. Very few, have evaluated the kind of tools needed, to perform an effective mobile device management. Most CIOs are still struggling to show the decision makers the value and growing opportunities that embracing a complete mobility strategy could bring to the company.

The personal mobile devices started invading the enterprises quite a while ago. Consumers select their devices according to the style, status, trend, processing power, and features they want. They personalize them and load them with applications. They establish a deep emotional bond with them; they keep their devices by their sides 24/7, and understand their value. They are actually an extension of their personalities and lifestyles. They keep connected with friends and family, so why not leverage them at work also? Why carrying the typically less sexy set of devices given by their employers?

According to the November 2012 iPass Mobile Workforce Report results based in more than 1,678 surveys to mobile workers at over 1,100 enterprises worldwide, the shift to this trend is clearly growing as the percentage of mobile workers who own their Smartphone went from 42% to 46%, and the employees using a corporate device decreased from 58% to 33%. The report concludes that “Mobile workers know what they want and are publicizing their preferences more than ever.”

According to Gartner, by 2014, 90% of organizations will support corporate applications on consumer devices and 80% of the professionals will use at least two personal devices to access corporate data. Gartner also predicts that in 2016 more than 1.6 billion smart mobile devices will be purchased globally; two-thirds of the mobile workforce will own a Smartphone; 40% of the workforce will be mobile; and half of all non-PC devices will be purchased by employees.

Gregg Lalle, Worldwide Sales Director in LabTech Software added. “The BYOD trend is not confined to one or even two particular countries; it is truly a global trend. While specific numbers from different organizations and analyst groups vary slightly, the trend is clear – Smartphone and tablets are coming into the enterprise so you might as well make the most of them...”

A Sea of Opportunities…

We already said that BYOD is one of the most significant trends affecting enterprises. It brings many new challenges but it also comes with a bunch of opportunities, and a lot of advanced tools to help the IT people embracing it having efficient implementations today.

This is not about making the company more social, it is that BYOD has the potential to change the nature of the companies for the better giving them the ability to offer a variety of mobile apps to ALL employees, regardless of their position, OS, and device that would enhance, accelerate an make them more productive. This would be the environment where an IT manager would be running a “New Age Company”.

This kind of company, transformed by the mobile applications, changes from every angle and in every area. Even the perpetually busy teams usually not fond of social technologies like the legal ones would use the mobile apps and become more productive.

When they realize the possibilities, all these departments will be coming to IT. Then, You, the IT leader, will stand out for your ability to initiate innovation within the organization. By enabling all departments to connect more closely with employees and customers, IT will be the team driving increased productivity, as well as improved customer and employee experience.

Today we will explore different apps scenarios in several departments, this may provide you with some Tips & Tricks that you may apply in your own working environment. This may be especially important because despite the fact that employees started the BYOD trend, some have mixed feelings about their being connected with their teams and bosses 24/7. Mobile capabilities let the managers have more control over the work force, so it becomes important to come to a work-life balance.

Let's analyze the BYOD performance, benefits, and issues in some of the key areas in enterprises.

Human Resources: A lot has been said about using mobile apps to streamline processes, increase productivity and enhance the client experience. But what about improving the working environment making employees feel connected, supported and empowered. Using applications such as short surveys, it is possible to measure the employee’s sentiment; and some others to help automating and accelerating the processes. A New Age Enterprise enables HR to create a strong connection with employees, empowering their communication and performance even if they are remote or home office workers. HR can easily interact with employees and manage the relationship with them, this creates loyalty bonds. Loyal satisfied employees make a more productive team that also attracts other high quality possible employees.

Marketing: Marketing is already one of the biggest consumer of technology in the organizations, also is the one of the areas with a stronger BYOD activity. According to a recent article in Information Week US, Marketing is the area that is using a self IT budget. Marketing has already jumped to mobile and their success depends on the company's ability to help them operating and moving key corporate information in a secure mobile environment. They will be grateful when there are guidelines procedures to allow this New Age Company to move full steam ahead.

"Marketing is a peculiar area where the creativity temperance and the pragmatically business parameters mixed together towards competitiveness. Amongst many other things marketing wants employees to identify with the brand and products, so a set of apps may be developed to create brand awareness both inside and outside the company. Moreover marketing managers want whole access to important company data in dashboards and reports; as well a full access to social media. That could be a dangerous combination if not subject to policies and procedures." Stated Gregg Lalle, Worldwide Sales Director in LabTech Software.

Finance: CFOs are also finding that apps make their lives easier according to the article entitled Apps Make Everyday Life Easier for CFOs in CFO-Insight Magazine. CFOs want apps to get the latest news from the financial world, compare interest rates and view the financial figures of their company – and perhaps compare them to competitors, quickly, before they even get to the office. It's true that financial apps started to procure information; however they have become way to optimize financial processes. For example, a "New Age Company" may have apps for finance to make it easier to managers to analyze data and take quicker decisions. There could be also apps for clients, so they can easily apply for loans, or credit cards. With the help of IT, the "New Age Companies"  can create secure access to corporate back-end corporate systems from anywhere in the world allowing them to give continuity to the financial processes that sometime stops when the manager to authorize is not present.

Sales: Sales can become more productive and efficient when they have mobile access to integrated back-end applications like CRMs and ERPs that give them a 360 degree view of the products' and services' performance and the clients' purchase trends and cycles; as well as their credit and payment  history.

BYOD gives IT a springboard to lead the New Age Companies revolution. Once the managers and all departments understand the possibilities, they will go to the ITs to develop and deploy multiple applications, big and small.

IT’s the Moment to Shine - Success... Here We Go!
This is IT's area's time to shine, this is when the CIO becomes the genius; his department is now a team of innovators, they are able to drive your enterprise into the New Age.

BYOD gives IT a springboard to lead the New Age Company revolution, because once the management and all departments have understood the possibilities, they will come to the CIO and the IT area to develop and deploy multiple applications, big and small; as well as policies to become mobile. So the IT management needs to be prepared with a comprehensive mobility strategy and policy proposal, as well as an easy-to-use multi-platform enterprise application and integration tools, as well as the security, monitoring and management, and enforcement systems.

We had a talk with three experts in the networks and mobiles management, Gregg Lalle, Worldwide Sales Director in LabTech Software (US), Luis Enrique Guillen, Director in GUIAR, (Latin America) and Mark Charleton, Director in Blue Solutions, (UK); the three of them agreed that to be able to succeed in creating a New Age Company the CIO should always remember to take on account the following key considerations:

•    Start working on that mobile policy at once. The IT area may need to evaluate different software tools and even some new providers; it's about time to move forward.

•    The CIO should generate cross-functional buy-in and work groups among the IT team.

•    The tasks should be broken down into small chunks that may be worked on simultaneously by the work groups.

•    Always prioritize, prioritize... Prioritize!

•    Some Multi-platform Enterprise Application Development solutions should be evaluated, to then choose the one that will enable the team to easily develop and deploy many applications to many different devices and operating systems.

•    An integration solution that easily connects with the Multi-platform Enterprise Application Development solution will be needed. One that provides certified connectors to the leading enterprise systems, there are several in the market including the  SAP, Oracle, or IBM ones for your team to be able to create secure, accurate and scalable mobile applications based on integrated systems.

•    It's about time to start, build up a small but very visible app. One the team can deliver fast. I should look sexy and tempting for users. This is a 'must', applications must look nice always! The users will feel comfortable and even happy using them.

•    Your applications should have at least partial native functionality so that they are intuitive to use and make the best use of embedded device capabilities such as the camera, the address book, and geo-location to avoid IT being hammered by complaints and support calls.

Start evaluating and choosing your Remote Monitoring and Mobile Device Management solution in parallel with your mobile policy discussions to help determine what capabilities you require.

Research virtualization and sandbox features that let you segregate enterprise and personal data so that they can be managed separately. Remember that employees are also concerned that their personal privacy is respected when devices are shared.

Take a look at mobile policy templates, such as those provided by "The Enterprise Mobility Foundation". They can be a good place to start and customize.

Carpe Diem...
Seize the Day if you don’t get started today, your company is going to fall behind – and then where will you be career-wise – working for a stodgy old-school company with nothing exciting to highlight on your resume or CV? While IT has traditionally been a service organization in the enterprise, BYOD gives you the opportunity to build new leadership skills, learn how to create consensus, and dive into new technologies.

Creating a Mobile Strategy...
The actual technologies together with a sea of opportunities make of BYOD a challenge and a flood of tasks to CIOs and IT Managers. They not only must make sure that the enterprise network runs fluently but the data must be safe and accessible only to authorized employees. They must also remember that the mobile devices belong to the employees whose freedom and privacy must be respected.

Thereof they need to have a consensus regarding the needs of both enterprise's and individual. Along with all these challenges, BYOD enables companies to reap plenty of benefits, like the reduced expenses in mobile devices, not to forget the employee's productivity and satisfaction.

So the sooner IT gets a Mobile Strategy, the more secure and the better prepared they will be to excel in the increasingly competitive 7/24 business environment; while mobility is not new to the companies, many of them still don't have a strategy and policies in place. Instead the go ad hoc as the demands pop up, but this is not the best idea. Same as with most issues, having clear rules make things simple for everyone, like they say "Things clear and long friendships".

While CIOs and IT Managers may agree BYOD affect their companies, experts like Gregg Lalle, Worldwide Sales Director in LabTech Software, Luis Enrique Guillen, Director in GUIAR and Mark Charleton, Director in Blue Solutions agree that developing a mobile strategy is still the big bottle neck at enterprises. These experts facing challenges in three different world regions, gave us their hints and best practices to come to the correct mobile strategy for each enterprise, considering that each one is a unique case to be taken in a particular way; so the first advice is to take the templates and best practices suggested and adapt them to each CIOs' and organization's particular needs.

Some CIOs and IT Managers find the creation of a mobile strategy a daunting task; but breaking it down into chunks than can be undertaken in a parallel way by small teams, makes it much manageable.  Actually CIOs must not do it alone; a good mobile strategy and policy needs input from the different areas in the organization including finance, sales, marketing, HR, legal, operations, etc. Having some surveys regarding their needs and priorities would help realizing the status of each department.

Once this input is collected, the suggestion is to determine priorities based on needs, budget, effort, and return of investment. In addition CIOs and IT Managers need to consider performance issues, scalability, and security at every decision making level.  Employees may suggest applications they are already using; so another task would be to evaluate these suggested solutions; this may help them to set up faster the mobile strategy; hence, not all the applications have to be developed internally. There are cloud solutions like 'HootSuite' for example, that may be used by marketing to manage the social media in a mobile secure and controlled environment.

Our experts agreed that additional key elements of a mobile strategy include:

  • Build up the list of supported applications, devices, and operating systems.
  • CIOs and IT Managers are the ones to decide which mission-critical applications are the priority as well as the development and deployment order.
  • The key users are typically the management executives, marketing and sales; so a list of applications for them to have the information and agile operation must prioritize.
  • CIOs and IT Managers should evaluate and approve external applications to be purchased or contracted as cloud, secure and compatible with the internal mobile strategy and policies
  • Typically email and calendar access on a variety of OS would satisfy the majority of employees; in addition, IT departments need to determine their own service level agreements (SLAs) for supporting different devices and events.
  • CIOs together with the company's management would need to set up policies in orchestra with the HR and legal managers; always considering the agreement with the BYOD devices owners

These considerations and decisions are specific to each organization and while there may be generic guidelines available which are a good place to start, each organization needs to tailor them to its specific needs and circumstances.

Application Development and Deployment Technologies and Considerations
While in the past IT managers could decide and control which applications would run on what devices – that is no longer the case. IT departments must develop and deploy applications to run on a variety of platforms and formats including iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile, in combination with others used by some employees and the personal ones in the BYOD format, they all must live in these unique environments.

However, native development for each operating system is an expensive use of resources – requiring expensive skill sets and separate development, debugging and deployment time for each OS and device format.  IT managers must find the best way to create applications for a variety of platforms efficiently and economically.  It is clear that “develops once, deploys on many" is the Holy Grail.

Development Effort to Deploy to a Wide Variety of Devices, and Operating Systems.
A  Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP) is a development and deployment framework that simplifies cross-platform development by providing tools and middleware for developing and deploying corporate applications on mobile devices. A MEAP enables a company to optimize its application investment by enabling it to develop one single mobile application that may be deployed to a wide variety of mobile devices without changing the underlying business logic.

Without a MEAP, the development effort grows exponentially. Many enterprises have wasted millions of dollars only to discover how difficult and expensive it is to develop for multiple, changing target mobile platforms. A good Mobile Enterprise Application Platform solution takes a meta-data approach that lets application developers easily create mobile applications using drag-and-drop interfaces without any coding.

Users expect iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry apps to conform to the look and feel standards of their platform. Good design is also about more than attractive graphics, good application design means getting relevant integrated information to users in their current context with the least amount of screen navigation. By selecting a good multi-platform application development solution that supports native, web/ HTML5 and hybrid applications, CIOs get the best of all worlds.

Remote Monitoring and Mobile Application Management
When CIOs and IT Managers plan to go mobile, the devices monitoring and management becomes a key mission-critical activity. The correct remote monitoring and management (RMM) and Mobile Device Management (MDM) platforms will help the CIO to significantly improve the operational productivity and efficiency by leveraging the power of IT automation. With so many different applications and key information flowing in the network, the only way to control it and make sure the Mobile Strategy and Policies are ongoing is being able to monitor the whole network and automate tasks 7/24.

When evaluating the right RMM and MDM tool, it would be nice to remember to always make it simple, our experts suggested making sure your RMM/MDM tools have preconfigured functionalities that may give the IT team a good experience in RMM right out-of-the-box.

I best RMM/MDM solution is the one that can give the CIOs and IT Manager the best option to choose between on-premise and cloud. Its functionalities may be ready take care of any repetitive IT maintenance task or process, monitor mission critical network components and automatically run auto-remediation programs and applications in every device connected to the network, servers, desktop computers, laptops, and mobile devices; it should automate every task the IT team may think about.

These automation functionalities will help saving time and budget that the IT team can spend in developing new mobile applications, enhancing the systems, developing new projects, managing the mobile policies, and other key activities to turn the organization into a New Age Company.

Define the Mobile Policies for the Company's Mobiles and the BYODs

To define the Mobile Policies is certainly another daunting step to the CIOs and IT Managers; therefore to get the knowledge of the environment, performing professional remote monitoring and management as well as mobile device management (RMM/MDM) activities is a must.

Certainly companies with defined mobility policies have higher returns on their mobility investments in terms of workforce flexibility, employee responsiveness to customer needs, as well revenues and profitability that can be attributed either to their investments and the employees’ satisfaction.

In their ‘Enterprise Mobility Guidebook’ -The Enterprise Mobility Foundation- offers some good ideas to establish a Mobility Policy. Analyzing some of these best practices in order to get to the best way to incorporate them to the daily activities in companies would be a great idea and starting point to come to a profitable New Age Mobile Company. Again a RMM/MDM tool would become a must to be able to manage all the mobile operation.

Below we quote some of the principles suggested by the ‘Enterprise Mobility Guidebook’:

“The companies’ mobility principles are to equip the work force with the most appropriate mobile devices, plans, and applications to enhance their productivity and performance in the role they play in the company.”

“The Company (does not) allow(s) the workforce to use company provisioned mobile devices for personal use as long as usage is not "excessive" and budgets are met.”

“Any rules or regulations regarding device features/functionality or carrier value added services that are not explicitly listed in this policy guide should (not) be considered prohibited.”

“The Company Mobility Policy Guidebook and the policies within it will be reviewed/updated every XX months.”

“It is expected that employees will accept any updated terms and agreement within YY weeks.”

“Failure to accept any updated terms may result in disciplinary action with your supervisor and/or group manager which could result in (but not limited to) losing mobility privileges or termination from employment within the Company.”

These are just the main guidelines and principles; however this “Guidebook” provides very useful and valuable ideas to set up a Mobile Policy, including the policies surrounding mobility management that includes: Mobile Inventory / Asset Management, Wireless Expense Management, Mobile Operations Management, Mobile Application Management, Mobile Security, and Mobile Help Desk.

The guidelines are simple, a lot of common sense involved:

“The Company reserves the right to track the corporate liable devices at all times”

“To access PIM functionality, employees agree to allow Company to be able to manage the device – regardless of ownership”

“Employees are (not) required to download an IT department provided device management tool on their personal Smartphone”

“Employee will (not) be able to receive support from the IT department for their (none) managed Smartphone”

According to “The Enterprise Mobility Foundation” details like devices’ models, operating systems, plans, and carriers should be considered when designing each company particular policy to make sure they will be able to properly manage them; this will reinforce their security in every mean.

“Defining this policy involves the participation of several areas in the companies, including the general management, Human Resources, Legal, and of course the IT area that will be responsible of the management and the reporting of the mobiles performance whether they are provided by the organization or BYOD.” Explained Gregg Lalle, Worldwide Sales Director LabTech Software.

Luis Guillen, Director in GUIAR added that the same way, it is the IT area’s responsibility to evaluate and choose the RMM/MDM tool that best suit their needs hence this kind of solutions are the definitely the best option to perform the management tasks.”

Mark Charleton advised that those smaller companies that does not have the resources to perform some of the tasks internally, like development, or even the monitoring and management; can always work with MSPs, specialized outsourcers that may help them developing the apps and performing the remote monitoring and mobile device management.

Taking the company to the Mobility New Age is certainly a daunting task full of challenges and new ways to perform the everyday activities. However, all these changes certainly lead to important benefits that help the enterprise achieve a higher competitiveness and profitability. The optimized processes make the organization run smooth and achieve a seamless pace towards it goals. Of course all this takes the CIOs to a leader position and the IT area becomes an important backbone of the daily operation.

It is time for CIOs to take their leadership position in their enterprises, taking them to the mobility era and turning them into New Age Companies.

More Stories By Monica Paul

Monica Paul is a marketer with 20 years experience in local, regional, and global marketing strategies. In 2001, after 8 years working as an employee for several IT companies such as Micrografx and Visio; Monica founded Marcomtec, marketing firm giving services initially to the IT industry that then diversified to other industries. In 2013 Monica launched, Magic MasterMinds (www.magicmasterminds.com), a marketing platform to help writers all over the world to market their books leveraging this way reading as a daily activity.

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