Security and device management hinder mobile business

Analyst warns firms of ned to put in place robust mobile device management and security strategies

Even though it believes that the rate of adoption of mobile technology is advancing at a recession-defying rate, market analyst Forrester is warning firms that they need to put in place robust device management and mobile security strategies so that they can reap any potential benefits of the flexibility mobility could bring.

Obtaining the views of IT and telecom/network decision makers in North American and Western European companies, Forrester found that nearly 93% of firms are anticipating having to support and increase the number of mobile devices over the next 12-18 months despite the global recession. However, even though firms recognise that mobile devices need to be managed and secured in the same ways that their PCs and other traditional IT platforms are, at present the majority of firms concede that they have not achieved this objective yet.

Making this need more pressing is the trend of firms wanting to support a wide range of devices running an equally diverse range of operating systems such as iPhones, BlackBerry and other smart phones running on the Apple operating system and Windows CE and Symbian operating systems. The drivers for this trend can be sourced from senior management and lines of business (LOB) managers who expect themselves and employees to be able to use non-standard or consumer grade devices and mobile applications.

The shift to LOB applications says Forrester will mean that increased amounts of data residing on devices and removable storage that are more susceptible to loss and theft than PCs. Again, even though all managers believe that security should be tightened the research found that this universal wish was not universally applied.

Forrester says that robust security and device management are an absolute necessity and that firms simply have to recognise their critical role in the construction of a successful mobile strategies.

By doing this, suggests the analyst, businesses will be well positioned for the next phase of mobility which will driven by LOB applications with mobility shifting right down the management pyramid to include significantly more knowledge workers. It adds such management solutions should also include asset management and reporting, device provisioning and settings management and applications management in order to be truly effective.

Commenting on how she saw the mobile management scenario, Alison Henderson, North Europe and UK Operations Manager of device management solutions supplier Sybase iAnywhere said that her company faced an increasingly complex landscape that made device management and security an increasing challenge. She added, “The whole point of device management is that the there are no implications for the end user and that [device management] does not interrupt working. It is a major challenge for organisations. Even in large enterprises, people plan applications and think about the management later, leaving people to [have to] change settings in the field. [You have to] negate problems happening in the first place”

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