Enterprise mobility has become a centerpiece of modern business operations, with companies leveraging smartphones, tablets and portable computers to bolster the flexibility of their processes and boost employee engagement in the process. The fact remains, though, that too few organizations have optimized their mobility management strategies, leaving them susceptible to data breaches, poor user experiences, rogue IT and inefficiencies.
Gartner recently reported that the number of smartphones shipped in the fourth quarter of 2015 was 9.7 percent higher than in the final three months of 2014. What's more, the year-over-year growth recorded was 14.4 percent, with the world's smartphone manufacturers shipping 1.4 billion units over the 12-month period. Interestingly, the analysts pointed out that newer brands are beginning to gain some steam, specifically those coming from China.
"Low-cost smartphones in emerging markets, and strong demand for premium smartphones, continued to be the driving factors," Gartner Research Director Anshul Gupta stated. "An aggressive pricing from local and Chinese brands in the midrange and entry-level segments of emerging markets led to consumers upgrading more quickly to affordable smartphones."
Newer brands will mean novel demands from a management standpoint, as the operating systems of smartphones tend to be a major point of complexity when working to support, secure and serve these devices. This is why business leaders must focus on optimizing their management frameworks as soon as possible, allowing them to more seamlessly leverage newer devices - a capability that will be even more critical as the Internet of Things scales up.
If you would like a relatively thorough rundown of where the current enterprise mobility trend is heading, check out this video from Jon Reed on the matter:
A majority of small-business owners have been found to view enterprise mobility as a mission-critical capability in their organizations, and one that would leave a major gap in management and operational processes should it disappear. As such, entrepreneurs should be working toward stronger, more secure management of their mobility frameworks, as well as the devices, systems and users involved, to get the most out of this powerful technology.
Apple versus FBI
Small-business owners might not think that a major contest between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and smartphone manufacturing giant Apple would have much of an impact on their firms, but they should think again. One of the more common battles that has taken place in the past five years or so has been the fight between governments and IT companies regarding the disclosure of information stored on devices when a crime is committed.
Jack Madden, writing for the Brian Madden blog, recently explained some of the ways in which this current battle between the FBI and Apple is likely to impact how enterprise mobility management solutions are built and used. As some context, the author pointed out that the FBI has been demanding that Apple lift the encryption on a phone owned by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino attacks last year, but the manufacturer has refused to budge.
Despite the fact that public sentiment is behind the investigation of the shooters in question, Apple - and many other major IT companies like it - have strived to avoid disclosing private information of its clientele under any circumstances. In fact, other technology companies have since backed Apple in its decision to not oblige the FBI's demands, including Yahoo, which has had its own disputes with investigative branches of government in the past few years.
According to Madden, most enterprise mobility management solutions today will at least partially leverage the internal encryption capabilities of each phone, but this might not be enough. He argued that, should the FBI find a way to break the encryption on the device itself through some new technique, it will have an even greater impact on enterprise mobility management solutions.
Using this story as a pivot point, Madden argued that companies might want to look into solutions that will essentially encrypt each individual application on a phone, effectively reducing the risk of intrusions through modern methods of attack. He also pointed out that current MDM solutions could even be viewed as risky, as they can potentially be used to break into devices and break internal encryption therein to levy information.
Again, entrepreneurs might not feel as though this story is important, but following it is crucial given its place in the current mobility conversation. Additionally, they should take a lesson from the types of tactics the FBI is using to break into this device, as the techniques shed some light on how hackers and malicious threats will go about trying to break encryption on mobile devices.
"Personalization and specialized security are fueling modern mobility."
What comes next?
Daniel Kraft, writing for ITProPortal, recently explained some of the ways in which enterprise mobility is evolving, as well as how business leaders should be approaching the next generation of the technologies involved. Two trends that he felt to be critical looking forward are personalization and specialized security, one of which will fuel greater engagement among end-users and the other of which is based on better protecting corporate data.
The author explained that the mobility trend has long been moving in the direction of more personalized approaches to employee support and service delivery, specifically given the general attributes of the devices and apps themselves. Subsequently, organizations need to take a similar approach to the ways in which they manage mobility, focusing on the user as much as possible when selecting tools and creating policies.
This concept works for general management and security, in that user-centric strategies will tend to reduce the risk of rogue IT and other issues that could hinder engagement, efficiency or protection against threats. Because mobility has been around for more than five years now, and many small businesses have thus far struggled to get management right, leaders might want to consider expanding their use of managed services for these and other relevant needs.
Cloud-based services can help enable more effective management of mobile devices and apps, all the while ensuring long-term defense against breach.