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Steps to Strategic Mobility

Though enterprise mobility is still in its adolescence, the business benefits of extending information and applications to mobile workers already are apparent. Payback comes in many forms, including higher productivity, increased sales, heightened customer satisfaction, and increased talent retention. In fact, according to Gartner Inc., workers who arent mobile are quickly becoming the minority, with almost half of the U.S. workforce today away from their primary work location for more than 20 percent of the time. Increasingly, a companys ability to compete depends on its ability to help its mobile workers be productive and successful wherever they are.

While the benefits of increased enterprise mobility are easily grasped, its much more difficult to develop and execute a mobility strategy that accounts for varying user needs while also allowing for sufficient security, usability, management and financial requirements.

The problem is exacerbated by the proliferation of consumer-friendly connectivity and devices for mobile workers, including home, office and public Wi-Fi, various flavors of 3G data and a smorgasbord of consumer and professional smartphones. All are being used for work, but usually without the companys knowledge, consent or control. Besides the obvious security, cost and productivity risks, these new work-style choices bring, companies must also deal with the expectations created by these technologies. Its widely understood that the incoming press of digital generation workers will consider the ability to work anywhere, anytime, anyhow an implicit part of their employment contract.

The steps outlined below provide guidelines for wireless dealers seeking to help their business customers strategically deliver and manage mobility as it expands beyond the road warrior and into the general population.

Step 1: Create profile-based policies


from firsthand research. A first and critical step is to understand your users practical needs in order to define a manageable number of mobile user profiles. In doing so, organizations can balance the competing need to standardize while addressing a variety of needs across the employee base. Its generally best to define mobile user profiles based on locations, applications and employees roles. Dont just guess at their needs, do some firsthand research. Use intelligence from your asset and connectivity management solutions and directly survey users through e-mail instruments and live or telephonic focus groups. You may be surprised by which locations and applications are broad-based and which are more specialized. The goal is to determine the natural work-style clusters that exist within the company, so that you can give the employees what they need while meeting business goals.

Step 2: Support multiple tiers of 

mobility solutions. Once these profiles have been established, companies should then map devices and connections to these profiles and identify any customization required to support application delivery. These may encompass the following

  • Mobile devices: smartphones, laptops or both
  • Platforms: BlackBerry vs. Windows Mobile
  • Connections: which types, primary vs. backup access method, use of free networks
  • Plans: flat rate vs. usage-based pricing
  • Security: two-factor authentication, SSL vs. IPSEC VPN, personal firewall, remote OS patching, quarantine and network access control

One useful tactic is to consider a two-tiered solution for each profile that includes a baseline solution as dictated by the results of the profiling exercise and a premium solution that addresses special cases and comes with an accounting tax to the requesting department.

For instance, it may be clear that the traveling manager profile does not need a companyissued handheld, it is smart to allow for departments to adopt these on a per-user basis and pay for the privilege. Some companies can create a bring your own tier that embraces popular user-purchased devices, albeit with highly limited access to corporate assets, and the right to terminate the privilege in the case of violations. These solution decisions must be made in the context of the companys riskmanagement philosophy regarding the use of information technology.

Step 3: Manage top- and bottom-line

needs. In order to support the different tiers, companies must have a management infrastructure that covers connections and devices to ensure that users are complying with their profile constraints, that costs are visible and containable, that usability issues are identified early and rectified, and that security problems are mitigated before they lead to breaches. Since a large organization usually will have multiple approved devices, connection types and applications to manage, it inevitably will need a management platform that integrates across best-of-breed technologies.

In the end, a mobility strategy is only effective if it meets both the top- and bottomline needs of the business. While soft-dollar benefits from technology are apparent often only years after implementation, frequent post-deployment surveying and creation of an ongoing panel of champion users for each profile will help to correct post-deployment issues and capture and quantify these benefits, such as faster and better decision making and more effective use of time. By adopting the right mobility strategy, companies can achieve higher end-user productivity, more effectively execute corporate policies, and reap the rewards of greater predictability and reduced costs.

Joel Wachtler is vice president of marketing and strategy for iPass Inc., a company that helps enterprises unify remote and mobile connectivity and devices.

It operates a global virtual network of wireless, broadband and dial-up providers in more than 175 countries.

 

Links
iPass Inc. www.iPass.com


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