One of the major trends we have seen in business in 2011 is how enterprises are coping with the movement of employees to bring their own mobile devices to work. There are a plethora of problems associated with the bring-your-own-device culture, from security to application and device management to employee reimbursements. This is an ongoing topic that is not going to go away any time soon.
Research firm Forrester has come out with a roadmap of how to “build an operations stairway to a mobile future.” The firm outlines seven key aspects that will help IT departments prioritize efforts in the mobile enterprise, from workforce segmentation to how to handle multi-platform development. Check out Forrester’s results below.
The main thrust of the Forrester report is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to building “an operations stairway to a mobile future,” as Forrester calls it. The key is to be organized, understand the various needs of your employees, clients and partners and learn how to do all of those things across mobile platforms like BlackBerry, iPhone, Android and maybe soon Windows Phone. Not every employee needs every new function, and some employees hardly need any. Here is a synopsis of the seven aspects of Forrester’s “operations stairway.”
- Segment employees – Not every employee has the same needs. Some need more security, some less. The accounting department needs different apps than the marketing department. By organizing employees into groups, IT departments can better make a roadmap for how to deal with those particular segments.
- Tier devices for management and security – A BlackBerry tied to a BES may not be equal to an Android that only needs a VPN or an iPhone that uses Good Technology. Different devices have different needs. Figure out what they are and how they fit in the employee segmentation map.
- Multi-technology approach for business apps – This means to buy or build the important stuff, use native functions within the platforms when it makes sense, or the mobile Web for lower-end projects. Virtualization software can be added to cement the layers between.
- Master multi-platform development – If you offer partners and customers functionality for iPhone, make sure to get it on Android and HTML5. Forrester points to how General Electric operates and says, “you can never spend enough time on experience design.”
- Fund the infrastructure – If a company truly wants to be a diverse mobile workplace, it is going to need to spend to do so. That means asking for “off-cycle” funding, as Forrester puts it.
- Adopt reasonable reimbursement policies – Who gets what kind of reimbursement for their mobile devices and data plans? Why?
- Plan for an enterprise app store – This is a recent trend that is starting to be filled with third-party solutions, most recently from Verizon but also Cisco, Zenprise and MobileIron. An enterprise app store helps get the right software to the right devices in the right department at the right time. All the other reasons listed above are glued together through the hub of an enterprise app store.
Taking a look at those steps, it is actually quite complicated to organize and manage a mobile workforce. There is no easy solution, but rather a complex pattern of interweaving tasks to be performed. The trick is to make sure to keep the structure as orderly as possible and communication between the IT department and employees open. Employees should know what their expectations are and act accordingly so as to put less stress on the IT department.
Does your enterprise organize its mobile policies? How do they differ from what Forrester suggests? Let us know in the comments.