Report Describes Growing Enterprise Use of Employee-Supplied Smartphones

A new report from Aberdeen Group suggests that enterprises are considering the incorporation of employee-procured devices as a way to press mobility forward during a time of budget cuts. Over-the-air mobile device management tools, Aberdeen says, can help achieve this securely.

Aberdeen Group has released a new report regarding the trend of employee-purchased devices being brought into the enterprise. While IT managers have long fought the practice, for reasons of security, Aberdeen shows how these devices can be a "lower-cost path" to broader mobility.
In the report, "More Mobility-Less Budget: Enterprise Strategies in the Current Economic Downturn," analyst Andrew Borg states that despite the poor economy, or perhaps partly because of it, the enterprise need for mobility has remained steady or increased, but mobility budgets have been "cut dramatically."
The answer, Borg writes, is, "Do more with less, and work smarter."
Borg reports how the top 20 percent of companies studied are managing to maintain or increase mobility levels, even while budgets are cut.
These top-performing companies, he writes, "have found additional efficiencies through consolidated central device management and security; judicious and selective outsourcing of some support functions; and [by] driving compliance to IT standards for mobile devices, whether enterprise- or employee-procured."
The burden of additional support costs created by new types of devices-the iPhone platform is becoming more prevalent, as are those using Android and Palm WebOS-can be partially mitigated through the use of MDM (mobile device management) tools to enforce device and software compliance.
"In the long term, however, this expediency does introduce new risk with regard to corporate liability for Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) issues," Borg writes, going on to say that technology provides a partial solution.
Borg divides the companies in the report into three categories-Best-in-Class, Average and Laggard-based on performance criteria. Best-in-Class companies, he reports, insist on using VPNs (virtual private networks) for all transactions over public wireless networks and securing their network, data and devices, preferably through on-device encryption of data and all removable media.
(On-device encryption was also a recommendation of the Ponemon Institute in security studies recently commissioned by Dell and Intel. Lenovo, also stating the importance of hardware-based encryption, announced it will be offering a remote management solution for fully encrypted hard drives in May.)
While Best-in-Class enterprises reported an increased total TCO (cost of ownership) of 19 percent over a span of 24 months-compared with the 4 percent TCO of Average enterprises and the 2 percent of Laggards-performance gains were significant.
Best-in-Class companies increased the number of employees in their mobility initiatives by 44 percent; increased employee productivity by 36 percent; and increased the number of mobile devices in full compliance with IT by 33 percent.
Four steps enterprises can take to improve their mobility performance, according Borg, are:
- Deploy a centralized MDM solution with OTA (over-the-air) capabilities. "OTA MDM is essential to ensure that all mobile devices are up-to-date and fully compliant with IT requirements for access to corporate assets, and provides the ideal mechanism to enforce security and encryption protocols, as well as provide a lock, wipe and or -kill pill' capability ..."
- Secure all mobile platforms. Begin with a mobile security assessment program and follow the entire data or message flow from creation to distribution, viewing and storage, ensuring each step and hand-off are secured and encrypted.
- Improve the skill sets of mobile support staff; whether in-house or outsourced, this can offer big productivity gains.
- Pilot technology before enterprisewide deployments. Test the new technology in an isolated environment, quantify its performance, establish best practices and deploy it enterprisewide only once support resources are properly trained and in place.
Best-in-Class organizations are working smarter in the face of economic challenges, Borg reports. They're responding proactively to new mobile devices and mitigating the risk they pose by requiring them to comply with IT standards for security, authentication and access, and accomplishing this largely through OTA MDM solutions.
A complimentary copy of the full report is available here.