Mobile First: The Risks & Rewards
Over the past decade, we have seen mobile device usage continue to grow, both for personal and business use. In 2014 we rounded out the year with a massive 1.2 billion devices sold, up over 28% from 2013. With statistics like that, it has become clear that mobile is here to stay and the way of the future. Because of this, it’s time to start thinking about scalability and “mobile first” or “cloud first” before adopting new technology.
For many businesses out there, mobility is changing the work environment in a positive way. Mobile computing not only creates a very agile work environment, but allows employees to be more productive. Employees who have access to their data when they need it are more efficient and less likely to get distracted. Let’s take a step back and remember how painful it was to provide mobile users with a similar experience to being on premise. A sales force, for example, has high requirements for remote connectivity back to the home office. Most often fulfilled via VPN and/or remote application/desktop technology, these users would fight to find Internet connectivity and hope connections persisted long enough to complete their work. Luckily we have seen things such as bandwidth get better, cheaper, and generally more available. For mobile users, the 4G cellular technology itself has become reliable and in many cases provides the sole medium for conducting business.
With better connectivity comes better applications and methods for interfacing with data. Application vendors have been hard at work over the last several years honing their SaaS (Software as a Service) offerings and enabling product use through cloud. Applications are increasingly device agnostic and provide the same feel and similar functionality whether accessed via desktop, laptop, mobile phone, or tablet. This is a good thing considering the average employee is using 3-4 devices during the work week to access data and perform their job. Hosted applications such as Salesforce, SAP, Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync are now providing mobile users with a robust platform to conduct business. This can all be configured directly to the hosted cloud resource without the high overhead of past technologies. In many cases, end users now have access to their data anytime, anywhere.
Of course, as with any good thing, there are also risks. In the case of mobility and general cloud computing, security is always a great concern. Company data is no longer locked down in the server room and your IT folks are no longer controlling core pieces of the application. In order to maintain control and adhere to various compliances it is best to understand what applications exist to manage the myriad of mobile devices accessing data in your enterprise. Mobile device management (MDM) technology has seen tremendous advancements over the last few years and the market is flooded with options. While MDM should be part of any mobile business plan, be sure to do your homework before settling on a solution or consult a trusted partner prior to engaging.