Don’t Come Last in a Mobile-First Future

Written by: Adele Beachley, Director, Sales – APAC for SOTI

Business mobility is changing fast. Not too long-ago companies only equipped workers in select departments with mobile devices. Even then, the market saw equal sales of mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) and personal computers (desktops and laptops). But now, with more workers on the road and away from their desk, companies are deploying more smartphones and tablets. It is even predicted that by 2020, mobile devices will outsell PC’s by a factor of ten.

What is driving this revolution in business mobility? Smart companies are doubling down on mobile technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) to reinvent their business and crush the competition. They are embracing the concept of ‘mobile-first’ beyond its legacy consumer focus into a core business strategy. It is simple; they see mobile technology as critical to the success of their business.

At a high level, it doesn’t really matter what a company’s mobility strategy is, or how they intend to execute it. The more mobile users, devices, applications and content they adopt, the more challenges they will have to deal with.

The mobility management challenge 

The explosive growth of smartphones and tablets has made business mobility more complicated. There are many more makes and models of mobile devices: smartphones, tablets, and special-purposes devices. They run on different operating systems, and offer a broad range of capabilities and features. However, these new devices have one thing in common, they are all powerful computing platforms that let companies empower their remote workers with mobile applications and content. All of these new variables, feature diversity, operating systems, applications and content, have increased the mobility management challenge exponentially.

The new technology challenge 

Securing and managing the multitude of devices that companies are deploying can be difficult, but the IoT is only going to make it worse. Experts predict that the global installed base of IoT devices will grow to 30 billion in 2020, and over 75 billion by 2025. Companies that are managing hundreds of smartphones and tablets could soon be managing thousands, or tens of thousands of endpoints. But, the challenge is not just about the numbers — the IoT will introduce billions of ‘things’ with a diverse range of capabilities. Simple endpoints like sensors for temperature and motion; more complicated devices like digital signs, as well as health and wellness wearables; all the way up to expensive, complex systems such as robots, connected cars and smart machines. The IoT presents businesses with many management challenges, but a few of the most significant are; the raw number of endpoints, their functional diversity and how they can connect, communicate and collaborate to create complex systems.

The remote support challenge 

Another rapidly growing challenge for mobile-first companies is dealing with remote worker device and application issues. These companies are often supporting more smartphones and tablets than desktops or laptops, and device issues are serious. Malfunctioning mobile devices have an immediate impact on employee downtime and business productivity, but can have an indirect effect on customer satisfaction, market perception and/or even create legal problems.

The mobile business data and analytics challenge 

The growth of business mobility and the arrival of the IoT are creating massive amounts of new data — both structured and unstructured data as well as all its metadata. Companies are hoping to tap into this wealth of data and learn from it to improve their customer’s experience and streamline strategic workflows. Not just the core data from mobile LOB solutions, but also the metadata about the user, their mobile device or an IoT endpoint (sensors and actuators). Having access to all relevant metadata makes analysis easier and improves your chances of successfully changing your mobile LOB workflows.

Meeting mobility challenges head-on

Each of these challenges is easy to deal with on its own — enterprise mobility management and help desk solutions have been around years. But, dealing with all of them simultaneously, is much more difficult. If you don’t address all the challenges, you compromise the benefits of the ones you do. A business mobility strategy is only as strong as its weakest link. For example, any advantage to building mobile LOB apps quickly is mitigated by remote workers suffering from frequent, extensive periods of downtime. Today’s mobile-first companies need a full complement of mobile-first solutions.

 Future-proof mobility management   

Mobility management is evolving. A few years ago companies wanted mobile device management (MDM) solutions to secure and manage devices. Then, as device capabilities grew, and mobile applications and content became more important, the focus expanded to enterprise mobility management (EMM). Now with the arrival of IoT, the market is changing yet again. In a few years, we can expect to see billions of new, connected devices, “things” and endpoints. There may be dozens of new categories of endpoints, but they all need to be secured and managed from a single, unified mobility management solution.

Mobile optimised help desk 

Keeping your workforce working is important for any mobility strategy. A key aspect of this is fixing mobile device and application problems quickly, and reducing worker downtime. Unfortunately, a lack of ‘mobile optimised’ solutions has made the remote support of mobile devices much more difficult than traditional IT support. To date, help desk technicians have not had the tools to expedite support – no remote view, remote control, file-sync and forced updates/restart. A purpose-built mobile help desk solution will solve mobile device problems faster, often on the first contact.

Security is more important than ever 

Empowering employees with powerful, mobile computers and applications delivered amazing productivity benefits, but it also created a lot of risk. The risks include: the costs and inconvenience of physically losing a device, the legal liability of compromised corporate data, and the potential exposure due to unauthorised network access. Now take that legacy risk, multiply it by ten or a hundred based on the raw numbers of devices and endpoints you are deploying. Then consider the fact that many of these new IoT devices and endpoints were never designed with security in mind. What does this all add up to? A potential mess. In the mobile-first world end-to-end security is more important than ever. It needs to be designed and built into your business mobility from the beginning, not bolted on at the end.

The future is mobile

The era of desktop computing has ended. Smart companies know that business mobility is critical to their long-term success. They are accelerating their investment in mobile technology — more devices, apps, content and back-end systems. They are turning into ‘mobile-first’ companies. However, this new philosophy does not come without challenges. Dealing with scale, diversity, interoperability and remote support for all the new devices and endpoints are just a few of them. Mobile-first companies are looking for mobile-first solutions to help them address these new challenges.

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