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Mastering the top enterprise mobility challenges

From compliance to security to app development, mobility adds a new layer of challenge for admins to deal with. Find out how to handle five of the most common issues.

Enterprise mobility challenges have changed the game for IT administrators, forcing them to stay on their toes as they look for the next curveball to come their way.

Mobility introduces concerns that never existed when desktops were the only game in town. Desktops didn't move. Desktops didn't access corporate data from different locations around the globe all day every day. Desktops didn't have multiple operating systems and versions fragmenting their market. Simply put, desktops were easier to control.

Today, admins must figure out how to protect their data and stay compliant while developers work to build mobile apps that employees want to use.

Creating an effective mobile app strategy

IT admins need a mobile strategy that ensures apps bring value to the business. The process starts with creating a portfolio that consists of apps that meet the goals of every mobile initiative as well as the company's overall business objectives. This way admins can decide which app initiatives can add the most value.

Mobility introduces concerns that never existed when desktops were the only game in town.

Next, if developers plan to build mobile apps in house, they must find the right universal development tools to fit their needs and make sure all of the tools involved are standardized. That way support, training and updates are much easier because everyone only needs to learn things once. If they don't feel they have enough staff to build all the necessary mobile apps they can hire more developers or turn to third-party developers.

Finally, developers must establish governance and standards so there are consistent rules for mobile app development and usage across the organization. With a set of standards, developers can more consistently deliver secure apps and measure app performance.

Simplifying mobile app development

Developing mobile apps is no simple task, and some organizations lack the in-house talent to get it done efficiently. One of the top enterprise mobility trends for app development is mobile application development platforms (MADPs), which make the entire process simpler so less experienced developers can still build mobile apps. MADPs are low-code tools that often include templates and drag and drop capabilities to make mobile app development straightforward.

There are a few considerations developers should keep in mind before they pick a MADP provider. First, developers must make sure the MADP they choose has common development standards and access to third-party app script libraries to ensure users have consistent experience across all apps and operating systems (OSes). Developers should also make sure they have complete control over the app lifecycle. From a security perspective, they must know if the MADP supports identity management, what type of encryption it has, where it stores the encryption keys and how it integrates app security with any existing systems.

Keeping mobile data safe no matter what

Secure containers can go a long way toward preventing data loss by encrypting all enterprise data and separating it from any personal assets on a mobile device. IT admins also get granular control over the data so they can limit users' ability to forward, print or copy and paste data. They can also make sure data users cannot transfer data outside the container.

Secure containers cannot do the job alone, however. IT admins should take steps to make sure a user's OS is not compromised.

Protecting against device loss and malware

A user could forget a phone or tablet somewhere, and a hacker could easily get into a company's data. To combat this threat, Android includes stored data encryption on its devices, and iOS has a kill switch so admins can prevent devices from being activated.

Some mobile apps even collect data they don't really need. Adware in some apps captures device IDs, locations, contacts and more. It can also make a device Web request that leaks personal data. Apps with auto-sync features can send private data into a public cloud without the user or IT ever knowing it. The best way to fight back is to prevent devices from downloading apps from unauthorized app stores. Admins can also research apps to see if other organizations have run into problems.

Mobile malware applies to every OS, not just Android. Threats such as surveillanceware, which bypasses the App Store, are common on iPhones and iPads. Admins should not allow users to have jailbroken devices because users can install apps on them from anywhere they want.

Ensuring constant compliance

To ensure organizations are not in violation of any state or federal regulations, IT admins must secure their data storage and processing.

personally identifiable information (PII), which includes passwords, addresses, Social Security numbers and more, is part of a lot of compliance regulations. Protecting PII is challenging on mobile devices, because it can be hard for IT to keep track of each and every device on the network -- as well as which devices are corporate owned versus personally owned. As a result, admins might not even know that certain devices have PII on them. Admins can mitigate this problem by requiring passwords, keeping patches up to date, and opening the lines of communication between IT and compliance officers and internal auditors.

Next Steps

Mobile compliance best practices

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Get the right results from a mobile app strategy

Enterprise mobility explained. 

Dig Deeper on Enterprise mobility strategy and policy

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What are the most common enterprise mobility challenges you run into?

Very interesting topic. I have read the article from where the discussion has started, and could identify some of the problems we are having. 
We are an app developer company in Europe, and the struggle we are facing on a daily basis is how to prove the ROI on a mobile app, or frankly a complete mobile strategy. We have created a lot of value throughout the years, came up with a lot of ideas for internal communication also utilizing beacons, bluetooth usage, VLC and started working with wearables now.
The challenge for still there, we show people how they have a new communication channel and a way to improve certain business processes, still the proof of ROI is missing, that would be essential.
Wondering what do you think?
My 2 cents on the challenges. Mobility challenges can differ substantially from one enterprise to another. For some, it is a question of bulk procuring and locking down devices, and for others, it is all about corporate data within apps, and for yet others, it could be sharing of kiosk-style devices between different corporate users. There are companies that struggle with getting the right apps built to truly be able to exploit mobility capabilities. The list is long, but fairly well-understood overall, I think.

The five issues you have listed are very pertinent for mobility solution providers to address through device management, or app management, content management, security, compliance and so on. The key is for the vendors to provide these capabilities in the most un-intrusive and seamless fashion for IT to integrate into everyday work they already do (e.g. PC Management), and not have to run around learning new things, and managing more devices separately, etc. That is where the real difference lies between the various vendors and their solutions.
This article raises excellent points, highlighting some of the challenges we see the enterprise grappling with. First and foremost, the demand for mobile apps at the enterprise level has shot up. Finding in-house resources to meet this demand is the number one compliant we’re hearing. MADPs have filled a gaping hole here and enterprises are quickly spotting the benefits of RMAD, low-code platforms to take back control of enterprise mobilization. The second issue we see bubbling in the enterprise realm: how to control app quality every time to ensure a true mobile app experience (not just a souped-up desktop app).

For an enterprise app to be truly mobile, it needs to meet a number of criteria: offline capabilities; cross-platform functionality; the ability to use videos, images and other visuals.

To meet these new challenges head on, developers and end users should sync up their “must have” criteria for successful enterprise mobility, and make sure they are finding the right tools that will allow them to customize the final product to fit their business needs. A RMAD platform is a highly efficient tool that includes all of these criteria, as well as the security needs that were mentioned throughout this piece.