If you step back and approach enterprise mobility with fresh eyes, you'll eventually hit an impasse between vision for the enterprise and the practical requirements of mobility. At the core of that impasse is mobile device management. Call it tactical thinking. Call it lack of vision. Call it what you will, but mobile device management is the primary tool necessary to take a mobile device and turn it into an enterprise computing resource.
Whether the application is mobile or fixed, on campus or out in the field, chances are that it requires some form of computing. And regardless of whether that computing resource is owned by the enterprise, the user, or a third party, the corporate IT department needs a way to create an enterprise presence on that device and to manage specific aspects of the device to provide a secure, reliable and supportable user experience.
Because the point of workforce mobility is productivity, improved or more efficient worker output is a result of mobile tools. And users who spend time playing with technology are, as a matter of course, less productive. The same goes for users who cannot be supported.
So while it makes sense to say that we can abstract out the device and deliver applications to everyone on the planet, the mechanics of delivery will soon dominate and we must ask:
- Which device?
- Who provisions the software?
- Who provisions the device? How much does it cost?
- How secure is it? What level of application is the optimal to deliver?
- What is the connection?
- How do we maintain application state?
- How do we provide connectivity to off-network users?
- Who's in charge of the UI and user experience?
- Who tests it?
- Who supports it when it breaks?
Those are the questions of IT management, and those are the issues that we – as an industry – need to resolve. Some of the solutions will come from within IT. Others will come from user groups, committees and other internal organizations. And finally, a third set of solutions will come from the vendor and mobile operator communities.
This is the first in a series of articles on corporate mobility management. The purpose of the series is to lay out the key issues for enterprise management, mobility management, and device management. Various parties claim to have solutions for some or all of the aforementioned challenges, and we will investigate the gaps between these approaches. For now, there is no such thing as "one stop shopping" for enterprise management that also includes management for mobility, including mobile devices.
The challenge as it exists today is to create the standards, technologies, policies, processes and best practices necessary for IT departments to manage mobility as just another part of enterprise management. We are not at that point now. The articles in this series address these topics:
Mobility and enterprise management
A crisis of architecture and process
Mobile-specific management solutions
Carrier mobile device management approaches in the enterprise
Security, certificates and authentication
Policy and process
Best practices for corporate mobile device management
About the author: Daniel Taylor is managing director for the Mobile Enterprise Alliance, Inc. (MEA), and he is responsible for global alliance development, programs, marketing and member relations. He brings over fourteen years of high technology experience and is well known as a subject matter expert on many of the aspects of mobility, including wireless data networking, security, enterprise applications and communications services. Prior to the MEA, Dan held a number of product marketing and development positions in the communications industry.