Mobile Enterprise Executive Summit: Day One

— November 04, 2010

Mobility is pervasive in the enterprise, and nowhere else is that more evident than at the Mobile Enterprise Executive Summit being held this week in Sarasota, FL. Executives from industries far and wide have gathered here to learn about mobile strategies for growth and innovation as well as discuss with their peers mobility solutions they have implemented and what challenges they continue to face.
 
The summit was kicked off with the opening keynote, Outlook on Mobility 2011, presented by Gene Signorini of Yankee Group. Sigmorini shared the results of a Yankee Group survey that frames the entire summit itself. His research showed that the top reasons enterprises adopt mobile solutions are improving responsiveness to customers, improving worker productivity, and transforming business processes to improve operational efficiencies. Mobile professionals themselves are driving mobility forward, he notes, and individual liable purchases in particular will continue to influence wireless device decision-making.
 
Individual liable devices are a burgeoning trend in enterprises, which was the subject of the second session's panel discussion: Consumer Wireless Devices and the Enterprise. Moderated by Stephen Drake of IDC, the executive panel discussed their enterprises' approach to consumerization in their companies today and what they foresee for the future.
 
The panel consisted of Luis Oliveira of Ignite Restaurant Group, Brendan O'Malley of Tasty Baking Co., and Ken Poinsette of Rollins, the parent company of Orkin. Each had a different take on consumer wireless devices in the enterprise and concerns that are unique to their particular industries.
 
Drake framed the discussion with an overview of consumer devices in the enterprise. He forecasts that by 2014, more than 62% of devices in the enterprise will be individually liable.
 
Luis sees iPads entering the scene at his company, and they are both employee- and corporate-owned. He believes that enterprises need to prepare their infrastructures now for the inevitable influx of consumer devices rather than try to play catch-up after they've already crept into the workplace. His main issues are around security of the devices and data, as well as policies regarding what can and cannot be wiped from an employee-owned device if it becomes compromised. He believes that this will evolve with the devices and management software as more features are enabled by device manufacturers and software vendors.
 
O'Malley had a slightly different take on consumer devices, as he previously served as the company's CIO. In that role, he wanted complete control over employee devices and what the employees could do with their devices. With the rise of consumer devices, he feels that security is essential. As such, his solution is to move to cloud-based data so that the devices themselves don't hold sensitive information in the case that they are lost, stolen, or otherwise compromised. That's his solution for fragmentation as well: hosting the applications in the cloud makes the applications themselves device- and OS-agnostic, and that way the company doesn't have to create native apps in house on multiple OSes.
 
Poinsette has a combination of field technicians using rugged devices as well as other users with smartphones. He works with a mix of employee- and corporate-liable, with a likely shift toward more employee-liable devices in the future. This evolution towards employee-liable devices likely will be pushed by cost considerations. As well, the more expectations change within his company, the more likely this move will take place. He compares field technicians with employee-liable rugged devices to carpenters who bring their own tools to a job site: as long as the tools get the job done, it won't matter who makes the tool. When it comes to deciding which information on an employee's own device to wipe if something becomes compromised, right now it's all or nothing: everything is wiped. Moving forward, his company will look to segment personal and work-related data on the user's device so that they have the ability to wipe only the work-related data.
 
After a short break, the general session continued with a presentation on Transforming Workforce Processes with Mobility. In this session, David O'Berry of the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services spoke about what he calls S.A.U.C.E.: Secure Access to a Ubiquitous Computing Environment. The real-world challenges that he faced in implementing this were the steadily multiplying number of devices, increasingly complex threats and new tools to deliver them, and users that were resistant to change. After running several pilot programs, there was a complete redevelopment of two entire running business systems, which happened in fits and starts. The transformation in business processes was a result of what he described as M=FARS: Mobility Equals Flexibility, Agility, Reliability, and Sustainability.
 
Day 1 of the summit was brought to a close with a final presentation by industry guru Andrew Seybold. In his presentation Where to Spend Your Mobility Dollars in 2011 and Beyond, Seybold gave an overview of the growing trends in mobility and what will be happening in the next five years. 4G will be on the rise, and LTE networks will offer better speed with lower latency. However, because LTE will be rolled out incrementally, users' devices will be switching back and forth from 3G to 4G, so all applications that enterprises develop should work equally well on the two networks (and arguably over 2G as well). Seybold believes that tablets are the next new "thing" for enterprises and questioned whether they would replace netbooks and notebooks for some users. He suggests that enterprises closely evaluate whether this is the time for them to upgrade their voice and data plans, adopt new devices, and roll out any new applications that they are considering.
 
In all, day 1 of the summit was a great overview of where mobility stands right now in the enterprise and where it is headed. It is an exciting time indeed to be making wireless decisions that benefit business processes. 

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