Mobile operators should help with management: CIOs

Mobile management has become difficult for many CIOs. A new survey found that many wish mobile operators would offer more device management features.

CIOs are looking more and more at their mobile operators to handle mobile management duties, a recent study by Mformation discovered.

In the third phase of its three-part study, Mformation revealed that CIOs, when facing a growing influx of mobile devices and smartphones, want mobile operators to take on much of the device management.

The survey, which garnered results from CIOs from 500 enterprises, found those companies are looking to operator partners for the tools and services needed to help them control, secure and manage mobile devices, much as operators and service providers manage other IT assets.

According to Rob Dalgety, marketing director for Mformation, CIOs are facing a sort of Catch 22 when it comes to mobility. They are experiencing productivity gains and will continue to invest in mobility, but at the same time management has become a headache. According to the survey results, 45% of CIOs surveyed are looking to their mobile operators for device management assistance. In the U.S., 62% of CIOs indicated they would switch mobile operators if they were offered a comprehensive mobile device management solution by a competing operator.

The survey also found that 82% of CIOs in the U.S. noted that mobile device management has become difficult, while nearly all CIOs surveyed, 95%, are looking for a solution for managing and securing mobile devices and applications.

In a somewhat conflicting finding, the survey revealed that 88% of respondents expect their mobile operator to have a role in mobile device management, with nearly 60% indicating that they would prefer to make an arrangement with the operator that gives the IT department direct control over its mobile assets.

"We see a picture of devices starting to act more like computers," Dalgety said. "Most mobility projects are for specific applications, and with more applications going forward, you have to picture these devices becoming a more important thing for IT. Enterprises are going to want day-to-day control over the devices and … help from the operators when it comes to management. Operators have to rise to that challenge."

According to Matt Bancroft, Mformation's CMO, the survey results show there's a new opportunity for operators to differentiate themselves from the pack by offering more management services.

"Clearly, very real opportunities exist for mobile operators to provide value-added device management services for enterprise customers, increasing their competitive advantage," Bancroft said. "More than 90% of CIOs expected operators to play a role in the management of their mobile devices, with most preferring that their IT departments directly control the device with some support from the operator. There is a significant opportunity for operators to help enterprises with the challenges and complexities associated with mobile device management."

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Along with device management, Dalgety said, many organizations are now looking to their operators for assistance with device security, as found in Mformation's survey. The survey revealed that 74% of U.S. companies have increased their investment in data and system security, while 71% said they increased investment in staff training. In addition, 66% have upped their investments in monitoring and security systems.

A concern among many enterprises is the ability to provide device and network security while also supporting users so that device problems are identified and fixed quickly, the technology is kept updated and future-proof, and the support costs are controlled. CIOs surveyed said they expect some level of operator support in those areas.

Many enterprises believe, however, that the operator is not yet supporting those needs well enough, and 60% of U.S. survey respondents said they did not have a positive opinion of their operator's device management support.

"From a revenue perspective, enterprise customers are immensely important to operators," Bancroft said. "However, their needs are significantly different from those of consumers. Enterprises are looking for far more advanced device and application management services; they need the same levels of security and control as they have over other IT assets such as laptops and PCs. If mobile operators can't meet these needs, they risk losing their most profitable customers."

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