Accessibility has taken on new meaning in today’s fast-paced world where the time zones and borders that separate states, even counties, seem to diminish with every second.
For industries that necessitate that the workforce be continuously reachable, organizations are turning to mobility solutions to create a mobile enterprise that provides their on-the-go employees with the business-critical information they need anytime, anywhere.
No matter the size of the organization, companies large and small seek productivity software that provides the most basic functionality, from e-mailing to calendaring, yet also has the expandability to stay current with the latest advances, such as the viewing of streaming video for sales presentations.
Businesses that have already implemented enterprise-based software, such as Siebel, SAP or PeopleSoft, and even those in the beginning stages of creating a mobile strategy, all are looking to limit the number of devices that need to be deployed for each mobile worker. Fewer devices means lower asset costs, reduced maintenance and increased security.
Through many successes and failures, best practices have arisen that can be utilized to create a true mobile enterprise customized to meet the needs demanded by the industry and the requirements essential for an organization’s workforce.
Organizations worldwide are realizing that the creation of a true mobile enterprise begins and ends with security at the forefront. It is essential that the creation of a mobile enterprise include the implementation or extension of an identity management policy to govern how users are provisioned, ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and control access to business-critical information, regardless of where the employees are located.
Security concerns should also be weighed when selecting the technology that will provide the workforce with access to enterprise information, such as cellular and Wi-Fi technology.
Not only is the pervasiveness of the technology important, it should also be thoroughly evaluated to ensure it complies with corporate policies and standards, including an examination of the ease with which the technology can be breached by unauthorized users.
A key best practice to creating a true mobile enterprise is for organizations to unlock and leverage the financial investments they have already made within their enterprise network.
By Web-enabling applications, re-purposing existing hardware and software, and implementing a technology that supports varying operating systems and devices, organizations can create a mobile environment that connects the back-end infrastructure to any edge device, whether it is a laptop, PDA or smart cell phone.
As a best practice, an organization should aggregate all of its systems into one delivery mechanism so that regardless of what edge device is used, real-time enterprise access is granted in a secure and organized fashion. Utilizing a subscription-based or standards-based Web services platform can also reduce administration and asset costs.
The strategy around creating a mobile enterprise isn’t about picking favorites; the needs of one department should not trump the needs of another.
A proven approach is to coordinate efforts across all divisions and departments to develop a cohesive strategy that meets mobility needs today and in the future. Examining the mobility requirements of each employee, i.e., those who will be truly mobile versus those who require an office space but also the ability to pick up and go, enables devices to be provisioned accordingly so the workforce can be productive no matter their location.
The selection of devices is also a major aspect in creating a true mobile enterprise. Cost and functionally are certainly important factors, but security considerations should make the race between the many choices of mobile devices a tight one.
Those with security inherent in their technology, such as an encrypted tunnel from end-to-end, i.e., all the way from inside the enterprise out to the device, are ideal.
A trend that is quickly taking hold among vendors is the production of virtual private network (VPN) clients for devices that not only provides a more secure mobile enterprise, but also creates a more familiar “desktop-like” experience for the user.
In the rush to create a true mobile enterprise, planning and strategizing should not be overlooked. As with other types of initiatives, it is best to develop a detailed plan to work against, containing a written set of requirements that outlines goals and objectives, and provides the ability to measure results, including productivity gains and return on investment.
Whatever the mobile strategy, organizations should seek a solution that leverages existing assets, reduces administration, complies with regulation and security standards, and provides the scalability to meet future needs.
Ed Partenope is the vice president of Operations at Innovativ, a solutions integrator specializing in communications products and solutions. He leads Innovativ’s award-winning solutions practice, as well as its internal IT department. Partenope can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.innovativ.com.