Security is still the primary barrier to adopting mobile business applications, a study has found.
More than three-quarters of the 300 UK firms polled said they planned to adopt mobile business applications in the next 12 months.
But security, potential loss of data and compliance remain key concerns, according to the study commissioned by global security and risk management firm Integralis.
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The study found that the trend towards mobile devices within the workplace continues to grow, with 58% of companies polled expecting to adopt personal information management applications, such as email, calendars and contacts, in the next 12 months.
Communication apps, such as Webex, Skype and iCloud, are likely to be adopted by 44%, with 39% of respondents planning to offer access to internal apps for functions such as updating leave calendars. Collaboration tools, such as Dropbox and Sharepoint, will be deployed by just over a third (35%).
Embracing advances in mobile technology
According to the study, core mobile business applications offer the potential to transform the way businesses operate. In the coming 12 months, 30% of respondents expect to purchase core mobile business applications.
This is a trend that is likely to increase significantly, the report said, as organisations realise the benefits and are reassured of the security of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and mobile applications.
Employees under the age of 44 are much keener than those aged 45 and above to embrace the opportunities presented by mobile business applications.
“But this younger group will need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions,” said Neal Lillywhite, managing director UK at Integralis.
“It is important that we are educating and training the next generation of CIOs and CISOs, so that they have the skills and understanding to fully exploit the advances in mobile technology and to adopt new working practices securely,” he said.
Firms wary of mobile application security
Despite the potential gains in productivity, flexibility and efficiency offered by mobile business applications, 28% of organisations polled still do not allow them to be downloaded to mobile devices.
“This could be that the case has yet to be proven or that the organisation is still to implement a secure mobile device management strategy,” said Alastair Broom, product marketing director at Integralis.
“A surprising 13% of respondents have no policies in place or enforced around mobile business applications being downloaded and used by employees, leaving them vulnerable to breaches, data loss, cybercrime and regulatory admonishment,” he said.
Over half of respondents cite managing security and 44% highlight data protection and compliance as their key concerns around the increasing use of mobile business applications. IT decision-makers are also worried about how to finance these changes (34%) and also the potential strain on current IT resources (29%).
Contrary to the popular view of the CEO or senior executives wanting to use their iPads for work, the study found that they are not the driving force behind mobile business apps. IT is the IT department, according to 51% of respondents.
Developing secure next-gen mobile business apps
The research findings suggest that companies will be looking to third parties to develop the next generation of off-the-shelf (40%) and bespoke (37%) mobile business applications over the next 12 months.
Enable IT consumerisation and, ultimately, your business will benefit, with a more motivated and flexible workforce
Bob Tarzey, Quocirca
Nearly a third (32%) of organisations are planning to develop bespoke business apps internally. Given the priority placed on security and compliance, application developers will need to have the skills and expertise to build security into their applications, the report said.
“Our research findings demonstrate the continuing trend towards BYOD adoption and the demand for the development of mobile business applications, but it also highlights that security and compliance continue to be at the forefront of concerns about employee-owned/shared devices,” said Broom.
For companies to be able to exploit the potential benefits of collaborative and remote working, these concerns have to be addressed, he said.
Bob Tarzey, service director at industry analyst firm Quocirca, said consumerisation of IT cannot be ignored.
“Enable it and, ultimately, your business will benefit, with a more motivated and flexible workforce using devices they have chosen for themselves because of the productivity they enable,” he said.
According to Tarzey, providing employees with a simple, secure way to access the company network is a key factor which will enable employers to embrace mobile working and BYOD.