Democratizing Mobility

By  Susan Nunziata — April 29, 2010

What is really going on in the enterprise is as much about the democratization of mobility as it is about the consumerization of IT.

The increase in smartphone adoption by consumers is fostering what many call "the consumerization of IT," creating a whole host of challenges as employees look to connect personal devices to company networks and applications.

Even as this demand bubbles up from the rank-and-file, some corporate leaders are making strategic decisions to change the way they handle mobility in their organizations, with the goals of saving money and increasing productivity.

One of the recurring questions we've heard this year is: Who pays for the smartphones in your enterprise?

To find out, we fielded an online survey to Mobile Enterprise readers in hopes that a clear consensus would emerge. Instead, what the survey results and follow-up interviews with respondents reveal is that enterprises are all over the map about who pays for smartphones (see page 14).

Mobile devices deployed for specific lines of business -- field service, delivery or transportation, for example -- are generally corporate-liable, particularly since many require rugged or specialized form factors.

It's a free-for-all in the rest of the organization, though. Senior executives, IT teams, sales people and others who are already eligible to receive a company-provided smartphone are calling for the freedom to choose their own devices as they're exposed to a constant barrage of "the next cool thing."

Meanwhile, as overall smartphone penetration grows, a worker who may not be eligible for a corporate-provided device has already purchased a personal smartphone. Now, he or she is eager to use it for business.

What is really going on, then, is as much about the democratization of mobility in the enterprise as it is about the consumerization of IT. By no means should the inherent challenges -- including serious security and policy management issues -- be minimized. Yet, surely it behooves a business to encourage employees to use the tools at their disposal to increase effectiveness and productivity.

That sounds to me like a win-win for everybody.


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