Cloud technologies and opportunities in mobile working will allow organisations to innovate in new ways. These trends can help business leaders to develop strategies to improve competitiveness, increase productivity and efficiency, and get closer to customers.
This HP whitepaper examines the new business strategies that the cloud and mobility can enable.
"Bring your own device (BYOD)" mobile strategies allow companies to make greater use of the cloud while at the same time satisfying employees' demand in being being able to use their own gadgets to do their work.
According to UK CIOs nearly half of office workers are now free to roam and work from home, with many being able to do it using their own smartphones, laptops and tablets.
Over 500 CIOs were questioned for recent research about their attitudes to remote and flexible working, which found that 48 percent of office workers can now work from home and on the go.
The CIO research revealed that 70 per cent of organisations believe offering more technology choices for staff "creates happier, more motivated employees and reduced absenteeism".
As well as using mobile devices for email, sharing files and communicating with others via IM (instant messaging) and social media, increasingly, many staff are also using mobile technology to access business applications like ERP, CRM and data analytics and business intelligence.
But the survey of CIOs, carried out by Virgin Media Business, also found that half of organisations had security concerns about widespread mobile working.
There are a number of cloud service providers who want to help organisations tap into the benefits of remote and flexible working while also addressing their concerns about security, including around BYOD.
Cloud-based mobile device management (MDM) systems allow administrators to remotely configure corporate email, allow access to business software applications and retain control of which data is securely stored in the cloud - more of this later.
The cloud and a changing mobile landscape
Gartner analyst Nick Jones says the "device era" was dominated by device manufacturers and characterised by iconic devices. This was followed by the "application era" which arrived with the iPhone, popularising application and media stores.
Going forward, says Jones, "the service and social era will build on the application era, but it will be characterised by cloud services and streaming media".
"Applications will survive, but often as a component of a more complex end-to-end experience involving the cloud," says Jones.
Traditional mobile strategies were designed to support well-defined requirements, with devices, applications and services provided and managed by IT departments.
Requirements of this type will persist, but they will not form the majority of corporate mobility by 2015, says Gartner, because of changes in user requirements, technology and the nature of work itself, including flexible working and BYOD.
Gartner advises enterprises to develop a mobile strategy based on technology-independent management goals and styles, rather than detailed device, platform or application policies.
An underlying requirement to support all these mobile technology changes outlined by Gartner will be the cloud.
Mobile cloud data storage
Although storage technology has allowed significant amounts of data to be kept on small cards, many users may still find them insufficient or inconvenient for storing the data they will need to take advantage of new services.
So why deal with storage cards when you can simply let a remote data solution do all the work via the cloud? Instead of keeping data locally on a limited capacity card inside a limited capacity mobile device, the data can be stored and accessed through the cloud.
As mobile users switch phones as new and improved devices become available, the use of cloud-based storage eliminates the need to move data from one phone to another, which can prove tricky for many users, particularly when they are using their own devices through BYOD policies.
A common scenario when using local storage systems is that a large chunk of data is simply left behind with the old device when moving to the new one. This can create productivity, operational and compliance issues for mobile business users, but these problems can be alleviated using automated configuration through the cloud.
Another factor to consider with the mobile cloud is device energy use, which is very important when devices have to be constantly charged. The intensive computations needed for new services and for accessing "heavy" business applications like ERP on the move can rapidly use up energy.
The cloud can be used to house the CPUs (central processing units) to do the computations and then send the results to the mobile device. This scenario would be ideal for trawling a large remote database for business information, for instance.
As BYOD is widely taken up by organisations, a number of suppliers are pushing the concept of mobile virtualisation as part of the mobile device management solutions mentioned earlier.
End users will benefit by being able to run multiple profiles, including one for personal use and one for work use. Mobile virtualisation is usually delivered around a thin layer of software that can be embedded on a mobile phone, which decouples the applications and data from the underlying hardware.
If IT organisations are able to remotely deploy a corporate phone "personality" on an employee's personal phone, they can deploy separate security rules and protection to guard the data within the corporate profile on that phone.
Such rules can prevent the BYOD user from transferring the corporate data to other unauthorised devices or sharing it with other unauthorised users. And if the device is lost or stolen the corporate data can be remotely deleted.
Again, the configuration for such working can be managed through the cloud, with rules and data security levels set for each individual employee. The automation that can be used to do this can save organisations substantial amounts of money through lower allocated management time - as well as delivering peace of mind about the security of their corporate data.