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How enterprise mobility will shift in 2016

Despite high hopes, the “bring-your-own-device” (BYOD) movement has become IT’s living hell. No one expected the Pandora’s box of bad user experiences, privacy disputes, security failures, shadow IT, and jaw-dropping costs.

The first generation of mobility solutions – mobile device management (MDM), enterprise mobile management (EMM), and mobile application management (MAM) – have failed.

The second generation of enterprise mobility technology will be a reaction to the first. To understand the future, we must examine the shortcoming of current BYOD solutions and consider how future technology could overcome these weaknesses.

Vice of the Device

Today, mobility solutions assume that you must control and manage physical devices to secure them for enterprise use. This approach is intuitive if you also assume that users must store names, emails, conversations, and proprietary data on the device. IT saddles a mobile phone with MDM so they can lock and wipe that data remotely, should the need arise. But now that almost all apps depend on an internet connection, and data can live happily in the cloud, the device-based approach has become a ball and chain.

With MDM, EMM, and MAM, employees cannot use the native mobile apps they prefer. We’ve all become conditioned to intuitive user experiences, like those you find with Facebook, Airbnb, and Pandora. But off-the-shelf business apps, let alone consumer apps, fail to meet the security and compliance standards of enterprises. So, their IT departments audit, customise, and deploy applications for email, calendars, contacts, and so on. This “app wrapping” requires tons of work, yet no one likes using these apps. They sacrifice usability for security.

This creates a second problem: avoidance. Employees try to use devices that circumvent the company’s enterprise mobility tool. And, in response to IT’s laborious audit and approval process, shadow IT emerges.

The research on shadow IT is still gloomy. 60 per cent of CIOs reported that shadow IT spending was an estimated €13 million (~$14.5 million USD) in their organisation in 2014, according to a study (opens in new tab) commissioned by Canopy and Atos. In the U.S., shadow IT cost €26 million ($29.1 million USD) per company, far worse than in Europe.

The study predicted that shadow IT spending would grow 20 per cent in 2015. Notably, 37 per cent of surveyed CIOs, CFOs, and decision makers in companies with shadow IT issues “predicted that improved mobility would be a big influencer of shadow IT spend moving forwards.” Allow me to translate the business-speak: employees are going to spend more on mobile apps and devices, with or without IT’s approval.

Enterprise mobility effectively shoots itself in the foot, yet the enterprise spends heavily on licenses, support, management, security policy enforcement, and staff to keep the patient limping forward. Considering that 2016 IT budgets and headcount “are largely flat,” according to a research review (opens in new tab) by ZDNet, this is a senseless waste of budgets.

The Revolutionaries

Reactions tend to balance. When (smart) revolutionaries overthrow a dictator, they try to establish a democracy – otherwise, they’ll perpetuate the problem they fought against in the first place. Likewise, the next generation of mobility tech needs to solve the problems that the first generation created.

New mobility solutions must give employees the freedom to deploy any mobile app, without audits, reviews, and the usual bureaucratic obstacle course. IT could accomplish this using virtual mobile infrastructure (VMI). With VMI, apps live in a private data centre or the cloud, and employees access them via a remote client app.

Apps that contain sensitive data pose a security risk on physical devices, but they aren’t as vulnerable in a data centre controlled by IT. If employees have the freedom to use any app on demand, shadow IT should stop – the incentives for doing it disappear. And instead of wrapping apps, IT can tap into its strength: securing data centres.

Future mobility solutions must also reduce the burden of maintenance and support. You should not have to hire a team of security experts just to make BYOD possible. IT should not have to manage a fleet of devices it doesn’t even own. Again, taking data off physical devices can go a long way towards eliminating this burden.

The Next Generation of Enterprise Mobility

IT departments have invested a lot in MDM, EMM, and MAM, but these solutions have failed to reconcile business needs with IT’s commitment to security and compliance. They’ve given enterprise mobility a bad reputation.

Different types of virtual mobile infrastructure will appear in the next generation of enterprise mobility, but that’s not the only viable approach. Mobile virtualisation, mobile firewalls, and other technologies might offer alternatives, or at least complement VMI.

The winners in the next generation will give employees choice, simplify security, and put money back into IT budgets.

Israel Lifshitz, founder and CEO of Nubo (opens in new tab)

Image Credit: Max Griboedov/Shutterstock