Enterprises are continuing to struggle with issues around their increasingly mobile environments, from the number of new smartphones and tablets that are hitting the market—and finding their way into the corporate scene—to the challenges of managing the devices and data that lies within them, according to Sean Wisdom, global director of mobility solutions at Dell.
IT staffs are wrestling with concerns ranging from security and complexity to bring-your-own-device (BYOD) deployments and tablets, and the result has been hesitancy in many businesses to bring BYOD policies into their environments despite demand from employees and evidence that such programs increase worker productivity, Wisdom told eWEEK in a recent interview.
Dell recently has been on a global marketing campaign to dispel some myths enterprises have about mobility and convince them that adopting good mobile technologies and practices can bring significant benefits to both the businesses and their workers, he said.
Not surprisingly, the campaign also is aimed at highlighting Dell’s growing mobile technology portfolio, part of the now-private company’s larger push to become a top-tier IT solutions and services provider. The vendor’s mobile solutions are designed to give businesses the tools to implement policies that can meet the demands for ease of use, security and productivity.
“Our customers really believe in mobility and want to [deploy] mobility solutions,” Wisdom said, adding that they’re hindered by concerns over cost, complexity and security.
Despite those concerns, most indicators are showing that businesses and their workforces will only become more mobile in the coming years, and spending on mobile solutions will grow. Oracle earlier this month released a survey that found mobile-related IT expenses will grow by more than 50 percent in the next two years, security is the top concern related to BYOD deployments (93 percent of respondents cited worries about data loss and other security problems when talking about mobility in the enterprise), and that organizations are turning more to centralized management rather than relying on users for security in BYOD environments.
“Mobility has been ubiquitous for a while, but only 10 percent of enterprises have an enterprisewide deployment of mobile,” Suhas Uliyar, vice president of mobile strategy and product management at Oracle, said in a statement when the survey results were released. “Its impact and adoption are gaining importance today. This survey is reassuring in that enterprises see potential for great payoff from making a strong mobile commitment.”
Dell’s Wisdom said the mobile world is evolving quickly, and that some enterprises are “still holding on to viewpoints of mobility that are kind of outdated.” For example, many IT staffs believe that traditional mobile device management (MDM) is enough for BYOD deployments. What Dell officials tell businesses is that while such MDM solutions can handle some issues—like when a device has been stolen or lost, the data can be wiped—but they don’t tend to address what happens to the data once it’s on the device. Solutions like Dell’s Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) offering give IT staffs a single offering that can address the security of the data—encrypting the data on corporate-owned devices and creating a secure virtualized container on employee-owned devices that is controlled by the IT department and keeps the company’s information separate from the rest of the data on the device.
Dell Exec: Enterprise Mobility Doesn’t Need to Be Difficult
It also addresses the concern among employees about corporate IT gaining access to the personal information on the device, Wisdom said.
Other vendors also are pushing business mobile manage solutions. For example, Microsoft in March introduced its Enterprise Mobility Suite, which officials said comprises the company’s offerings around MDM, mobile application management (MAM), security and identity management for devices running Windows, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.
Tablets are another topic in mobility that businesses are not taking full advantage of, he said. Most enterprises view tablets as complementary to notebooks and desktop PCs, and most are not being used in customer-facing roles. Instead of being put in the hands of the sales staffs, most tablets in the enterprise are being used by executives or in-office workers, keeping the devices from those who could most benefit from them and limiting the amount of productivity a corporation can get out of the tablet.
“It’s a powerful device,” Wisdom said. “The mobile investment strategy [around tablets] is upside down.”
Frost & Sullivan analysts in July said that a survey found that while 74 percent of businesses issued corporate-owned notebooks and 71 percent did the same for corporate-owned smartphones, only 47 percent issued company-owned tablets, though that gap was expected to narrow.
Businesses have been worried about managing tablets, and it hasn’t been easy for users to access applications on the devices, making them less practical, he said. In addition, enterprises many times have been using consumer devices, which don’t have the dependability and serviceability businesses expect from their systems.
Wisdom pointed to Dell’s Venue Pro devices as one of the business-class tablets that are on the market. The Dell business tablets offer 10.8-inch screens (on the Venue Pro 11), are optimized to run Windows 8.1 from Microsoft—though they also can run Windows 7—and can be used with a keyboard and stylus. It can be managed with Dell’s Kace software and comes with Dell security capabilities, including SonicWall solutions.
Other vendors also are building tablets aimed at the enterprise. For example, Hewlett-Packard in June unveiled the Pro x2 612 enterprise-class two-in-one system that can be used as a tablet as well as a notebook, while the same month Samsung introduced the Galaxy Tab S, also aimed at corporations.
Eventually businesses are going to have to fully embrace mobile solutions, Wisdom said.
“Mobility during my career has changed,” he said. “It has been a nice thing to have. … Mobility now has become so important in serving customers.”