A sea change is underway in how organisations tackle enterprise mobility in Australia. While mindful of the productivity and flexibility benefits of enterprise mobility, Australian organisations are still determined to achieve systems governance to ensure security and preserve privacy.
This has prompted a more holistic approach to enterprise mobility management, often resulting in companies selecting service-based rather than point products.
According to research firm IDC, Australia is one of the most progressive markets for enterprise mobility in Asia-Pacific and Japan, with organisations having shifted “from a defensive posture to a proactive approach regarding their employees’ use of mobile technologies”.
Heralding that shift was the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which had sent out 33,000 officers to run the most recent census using a mobile app running on their own mobile devices rather than rely on paper forms. The app was deployed and secured by MobileIron, an enterprise mobility software supplier.
Sabharinath Bala, senior research manager at technology research company IDC, says until recently, the focus with enterprise mobility management had been on device security, so if a smartphone was lost or stolen, its content could be wiped, and the device locked.
However, enterprises today are now adopting all-encompassing methods to secure all content and applications accessed beyond the walls of their organisations. “That is the prime concern for larger enterprises and large mid-sized companies,” he says.
Bala noted that industry players like MobileIron, VMware and Microsoft had already acknowledged that protecting content was far more important than just securing devices. That content also includes data transmitted over communications networks, including unsecured wireless hotspots.
Exponential growth in adoption
Michelle Bendschneider, executive director for Telstra Global Products, says there is currently evidence of “exponential growth in adoption of enterprise mobility solutions”.
“Five years ago, it was very softly controlled adoption,” she says, adding that with disruptive technologies such as cloud-based apps and services, companies of all sizes – from small businesses to large government departments – are now exploring new ways of working.
However, enterprise mobility is more than just putting mobile apps into the hands of workers. A range of technologies to support mobile users is necessary to realise the full potential of enterprise mobility – especially given the experience gulf between enterprise and consumer apps.
Forrester Research, another technology research firm, recommends a more comprehensive approach that involves the use of mobile management software from the likes of AirWatch, Citrix and MobileIron, in concert with team messaging platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Slack.
It also advises organisations to adopt “progressive” web apps, which are essentially websites disguised as applications, and enhanced push notifications to spur employees into action.
Adopting enterprise mobility
In Australia, the most enthusiastic adopters of enterprise mobility are organisations in financial services, local and state governments, and law enforcement agencies, according to IDC’s Bala.
The Queensland Police Service, for example, has equipped 3,000 frontline officers with tablet computers, allowing them to access information wherever and whenever they want.
“In split seconds, they can know who they are talking to, and whether that person has alerts against them,” says Queensland’s police commissioner Ian Stewart. “We have seen a huge increase in the number of checks done per shift.”
The police claim the mobility project, which was rolled out through a managed mobility service contract with Telstra, has saved 30 minutes per shift per officer – time which can be redirected to more proactive activities than administration.
Bendschneider says the time savings mean officers can perform 100 checks per shift, while “previously they might have done five”.
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Meanwhile, Motorola Solutions has signed a A$50m deal with Victoria Police to roll out a similar managed mobility service for 10,000 officers. Mobile devices, apps, round-the-clock service, device management and monitoring will be provided as part of the deal.
“Frontline officers will gain access to data when and where they need it most, helping them to manage their essential daily tasks with increased efficiency and safety,” says Motorola Solutions vice-president and managing director Steve Crutchfield.
“For example, it can alert officers about potentially dangerous suspects. Eventually, the application will free up officers’ time, enabling them to complete administrative tasks in the field instead of back at the station.”
In a separate sector, Telstra has delivered a managed mobile solution to the NSW Department of Family and Community services, replacing a manual and largely paper-based process of applying for community housing.
“It’s taken a 45-page application to a single online 15-minute process,” says Bendschneider, adding that security was also a key focus given the confidential nature of the information captured in that process.
The IoT dimension
The expected growth in adoption of enterprise-grade internet of things (IoT) networks and devices will add an extra dimension for enterprise mobility solutions, by demanding a more unified device management approach that manages sensors and smartphones alike through a single platform.
Indeed, Forrester forecasts that leading enterprise mobility management suppliers will extend their offerings with unified device management solutions, IoT management and analytics services that offer insights based on data collected from IoT devices.
“IoT was just a buzzword until a year back,” says IDC’s Bala. “It’s now being deployed to take advantage of the quantum of data,” he says, noting that Blackberry, MobileIron and VMware are all working in this area. He also predicts greater demand for unified device management within 18 months, predominantly from large enterprises.
Meanwhile, Telstra is seeing opportunities in the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) space. In 2018, the telco will deliver a new managed mobility service for SMEs that includes devices, apps, network carriage and mobile management services.
Bendschneider says the idea is for SMEs to open the box with the devices, connect them to the network and be automatically connected to the apps and mobile management service. The service is currently being tested as a minimum viable product (MVP) by some organisations.
“Our philosophy is to take the sting out of the tail. There’s no need to source for the device, set up the software or manage the logistics,” says Bendschneider. “Instead, Telstra’s service will handle that side of the house, leaving the business to unlock the potential productivity of mobile workers.”