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MOBILITY TRENDS: Delivering mobility solutions to the workforce

MOBILITY TRENDS: Delivering mobility solutions to the workforce

Prediction: 80 per cent of organisations will support a workforce using tablets by 2013

The proliferation of consumer devices and a growing demand from employees are changing the ways in which organisations deliver mobility solutions to the workforce.

IT organisations are forced to create mobility programs to support corporate email and other applications on consumer products, such as the iPhone, iPad and Android devices. “Bring your own device” and employee-liable programs are common.

Gartner expects that 80 per cent of organisations will support a workforce using tablets by 2013. It also predicts that 90 per cent will support corporate applications on personal devices by 2014.

These deployments bring a range of new challenges, from security, compliance and management, to cost and human capital management. Organisations address these challenges by defining policies that regulate the usage of consumer and personal mobility for employees. They need the appropriate tools to enforce policies, regulate behaviours, contain costs and manage risks across multiple device platforms.

Multiple options are available – the enterprise mobile device management (MDM) market has more than 60 players globally. Gartner has identified a subset of 23 vendors that qualify as viable for investments.

As it is, IT organisations struggle to identify the right options for investment. On one hand, the rapid evolution of mobile devices and business requirements makes it difficult to identify a clear set of MDM requirements. On the other hand, the lack of differentiation confuses buyers and complicates investment decisions. One major area of differentiation among MDM offerings is the technical approach to management.

There are two options.

Lightweight approach: Server-side product or service offerings may have a small mobile agent running on the device, and/or call native APIs provided by the mobile OS platform, but do not have a complete mobile management client. They can enforce policies on the server side, but cannot control the device and mobile user behaviour in depth. They are used in combination with native mobile support in corporate email servers to enforce complementary policies to those provided by the server.

Heavyweight approach: Client-side management software is available for every relevant mobile OS platform. The management client can enforce strong IT control on the device.

Another important element of differentiation among these offerings is the delivery model – cloud services versus on-premises versus host.

Before entering MDM product selection analysis, organisations need to identify the risks and benefits of introducing support for corporate applications on personal devices. They then need to identify the IT policies required to control deployments, manage risks and support users. Finally, they need to choose the appropriate management approach and the products and services that can help to enforce those policies in a cost effective way.

- Gartner vice-president, Monica Basso


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