Big mobile data: Hanging on the line

If you consider the amount of laptops, tablets & smartphones in any given company it makes sense to imagine the huge volumes of mobile data contained therein. There is an enormous amount  of business and operational data available to IT, including information on device and network performance, connectivity, security concerns -- all of which can be gleaned and used for better productivity. This literal treasure trove of data when used intelligently, allows businesses to make smarter decisions and ensures the best end user satisfaction.  

The rate of technology adoption by field service workers continues to accelerate and with it mobile data consumption. Between 2015 and 2021, mobile data usage is expected to grow nearly 9 times globally. Enterprises of all sizes are seeing the benefit that having a mobile workforce can deliver. The success of any mobile deployment, however, hinges on its reliability. Intermittent network connectivity or poor application stability can leave an employee cut off from the essential information that they need in order to do their jobs. This can lead to frustrated workers and an unsatisfactory customer engagement. Although employees who are introduced to mobile technology tend to adapt quickly, it only takes a couple of breakdowns at the application and network level to curb their willingness to continue using devices for work purposes.  

Mobile performance challenges can be disruptive and can contribute to a significant drain on internal support resources. In a recent survey by WBR Digital, commissioned by NetMotion Software, Enterprise IT leaders noted that their trouble ticket count frequently grew after a mobile rollout. And the single most common reason for ticket submission was issues surrounding connectivity.  

Aside from the challenge of maintaining device connectivity in the field, security remains a top priority in any conversation on mobile adoption. Protecting devices from misuse or theft and safeguarding access to networks and sensitive information are frequent concerns. As mobile devices continue bringing the full functionality of an office into the field, the need for dynamic security options only continues to grow.  

The WBR Digital survey discovered that nearly half of the senior level staff surveyed complained that they could not easily diagnose common mobile problems experienced by their field workers. The study also highlighted that 40% were experiencing hundreds of connectivity issues per month. The findings also indicated pressures on the organisations to expand  their mobile deployments - which only exacerbates current support problems they are experiencing.  

Companies need to take steps to fill network gaps in order to preserve user and application access across networks. In fact, the senior-level executive respondents ranked performance management technology as the most valuable component of their enterprise mobility strategy.   

The key points highlighted by those all those who responded can be summarised as follows: 

The need for remote connectivity is growing alongside mobile workforces - over half of respondents report that their mobile workforce number is set to
grow in 2017. As they grow, one of the main factors of success is the ability to
maintain real-time access to applications.

Respondents see room for improvement around connectivity, app reliability, and mobile security software - satisfaction with mobile solutions is at an average level for 71% of respondents. Keeping devices and apps online and running is the most consistently reported shortfall of their current mobility solutions, as well as a lack of security for physical devices, networks, and data.

Connectivity problems are the number one reason for mobile-related trouble ticket submissions, which limits support resources and drains valuable time on site - excessive time and energy is spent solving trouble tickets submitted due to dropped network connectivity each week. Compounded by a lack of diagnostic tools, this problem was highlighted as a major issue  

Ultimately, the survey helps to point to a number of common pitfalls which could be avoided if IT teams are to use mobile “big data” to improve upon their mobile IT operations and end-user support. Let us take a look at some of them here: 

Pitfall #1: The wrong tool?:    

Traditional business and operational intelligence tools are challenged to extract information from mobile devices. This information is able to provide very useful data on device health, application usage, security and connectivity issues. These BI tools were simply not built with mobile deployments in mind. 

An effective BI visualisation tool must be mobile operating system agnostic. Having a solution that works across all operating systems is necessary as organisations grow or mobile user needs change. The solution should offer detailed dashboards that keep you updated on users, networks, devices and applications inside and outside the corporate firewall.     

Pitfall #2: Trying to “get by” with another department’s tool:  

In a perfect world, every team would get the ideal solution for their needs. All kinds of factors come into play here. If budgets are tight then teams need to compromise. If another department ‘owns’ the tool then they will control when it can be used - perhaps leaving teams stuck in a holding pattern. It is very important therefore, that the IT team make those with purchasing power fully aware of what capabilities they require in order for a successful outcome. 

Pitfall #3: Making the wrong BI solution investment:  

Purpose-built mobile BI solutions offer an effective means for understanding connectivity challenges and mitigating security threats on mobile devices. It’s important to choose a solution that provides a visual analysis on networks, users, devices and applications inside and outside the corporate firewall. Any solution you choose needs to enable IT teams to perform real-time analysis and receive alerts on mobile connectivity, security, and performances so that they can make faster, more informed decisions.  

The vast majority of organisations simply have no idea how to analyse data for their mobile workers. We’re unlikely to see a good blend of mobile technology and actionable analysis of big data until organisations figure out how best to collect and visualise data. Purpose-built mobile business and operations intelligence solutions will enable IT to make better decisions and get the most value from their mobile deployments. 

As mobile utilization grows, the need for solutions that support workers with reliable, secure network connectivity will increase significantly. There’s a lot at stake in the race for mobile transformation; in a recent study 80% of organizations identified their mobility strategy as the key enabler for meeting business priorities over the coming years.  

Chris Walters, UK&I Country Manager at NetMotion Software 

Image Credit: Nito / Shutterstock