Report Finds 'Support Gap' Present in Mobile Projects
Embracing Mobility Means Aligning IT and Employee Demands and Constructing a Unified Strategy
The ongoing development of smartphones and tablets is driving the use of those platforms in the workplace. In the past, companies often saw these gadgets as the death of the business phone system, though the same mentalities are not necessarily shared today. Instead, enterprises recognize that allowing individuals to use personal devices in and outside of the office can be a major efficiency boon, as the tools let employees conduct mission-critical operations from virtually anywhere at any time.
However, the benefits of enterprise mobility only go as far as the management strategies that reinforce those projects. Unfortunately, many people in the workplace believe there is a "support gap" between the IT department and the individuals actually using smartphones and tablets for business. This chasm was recently highlighted in a CDW study that polled 1,200 IT professionals and 1,200 business employees who actually use mobile devices for work. The findings suggested that mobility will continue to have an impact on the business world as a whole, which will force companies to develop more comprehensive policies and management strategies.
The survey revealed that only 41 percent of individuals who use smartphone and tablets graded the IT policies and support in their organization with an A or a B. Conversely, IT professionals were more optimistic, as 64 percent of these respondents gave their firms a similar grade, though only 18 percent believed they actually deserved such high scores.
"Mobility has edged its way into the workplace, increasing and complicating IT's workload and often leading to frustration on all fronts. Securing devices, along with the data and networks they use, will always be a significant concern, but protecting users and employers is only one of five key aspects of mobility management at work," said Andrea Bradshaw, senior director and general manager for mobility solutions at CDW.
Mobility's Meteoric Impact
While the use of smartphones and tablets is bound to have an impact on the office phone system and enterprise communications in general, these tools will also affect other aspects of business operations. Corporate IT infrastructure in particular will feel the weight of the mobile landscape, as many experts believe the use of these innovative platforms will create heavy traffic loads.
CDW highlighted this belief, noting that 63 percent of IT professionals believe mobility will impact network bandwidth requirements, while 39 percent think it will lead to increased latency. Other experts think the use of smartphones and tablets will drive server and storage demands, as 39 percent of respondents asserted they have already seen overall network performance suffer.
"The network impacts confirm that IT needs a systems strategy to accommodate mobility. Our research also shows that users and IT alike see room for improvement in the level and quality of support that IT provides for mobility today," Bradshaw said.
Fortunately, these new burdens will not necessarily overpower the benefits of using mobile devices for work-related purposes.
Turning Challenge Into Purpose
Despite the difficulties that may be associated with building management policies for letting individuals use mobile gadgets in the workplace, bring your own device (BYOD) will continue to transform the business world. In fact, Gartner estimates that 38 percent of companies will require employees to supply their own smartphones or tablets for work by 2016. This number is also expected to jump to half by 2017, suggesting that the mobile momentum is continually shifting into high gear.
"BYOD strategies are the most radical change to the economics and the culture of client computing in business in decades. The benefits of BYOD include creating new mobile workforce opportunities, increasing employee satisfaction and reducing or avoiding costs," said David Willis, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.
At the same time, Willis encouraged enterprise executives to evaluate their specific case for BYOD instead of just jumping in and hoping for the best. Every business is different and, as a result, has various operations or assets that it needs to look out for and protect. If organizations do not build a strong management and support plan, they will not be able to embrace enterprise mobility without challenges that may thwart progress altogether.
Bradshaw said that implementing mobile device management and other technologies will likely aid in an enterprise's mobile endeavors, but the best way is to take a step back and ensure that business and IT needs are met during a BYOD deployment. By aligning all corporate responsibilities and capabilities, organizations will likely be able to deploy a more holistic strategy.
As the proliferation of smartphones and tablets occur in the workplace, enterprise decision-makers need to plan ahead and develop policies that support both employee and technical demands. In doing so, enterprises will find it easier to navigate the mobile landscape without encountering problems.