Here comes the young entrants knocking the door of the job market and they are not alone. Along with all their energy, talent and enthusiasm they are coming with their long time 24/7 companion to the work place. Guess what ….
Yeah….. got it right! ……….. Smartphone…
Initial reaction of the all the institutions wherever these “smartphoners” went, whether it was school, college or work-place, was on the expected lines i.e. “Just Ban It”. Oh So Scary!, “They keep on sliding this gadget all the time playing games, updating on social media, exchanging photos, videos and what not? When will they focus on study or work ?”. “What would happen to business confidentiality?”. But, all these “banning tactics” lead to equal and opposite reaction in the form of “innovation for neutralizing it”. Meanwhile, our intrigued business leaders became curious enough to try their phones for purposes other than talking and messaging. And whole new arena of “Apps” was in front of them. From the first reaction of “Not bad”, it has come to “Why don’t we use it for productivity from these youngtards?”. Based on this small idea, a whole new field of “enterprise mobility” is ready to unleash itself, challenging all the basic paradigms of existing work culture & ethics. It is no lesser in impact that was felt when current business leaders fought their own war from their own previous generation for moving to “paperless from paper”. In that sense, current managers/CTO’s are far more receptive and welcoming to the changes, if their doubts and concerns are met with care.
How will it increase productivity?
This is the first question naturally, comes to mind of any profit aspiring business leader. The iPhones, iPads, BlackBerrys, Androids and many other mobile devices in the hands of hundreds of millions of people around the planet are suitably placed to change the way of operating business as well as engaging with customers. Business leaders have to carefully think about innovative and intelligent use of this extraordinary opportunity of real-time collaboration anytime, anywhere. In other words, businesses will have to mirror the consumer world in order to effectively communicate & servicing them. Emerging enterprise mobility developers will have to meet the demand to build hundreds of simple, intuitive and even single-function apps and hoard them into a repository from which employees will locate and download apps that perfectly suit with their business roles.
How does it benefit?
Any company’s biggest asset is its human resource, but in fact, this is only true when these critical resources are fully engaged with their jobs and responsibilities. Moreover, success does not only depend on employees that deal directly with customers, but also every worker is responsible for the end customer experience. Research shows that employee engagement is strongly linked to commercial outcomes that are essential to a company’s monetary success. An engaged employee is most likely to be motivated to drive innovation, surpass their competition and increase revenues that their organizations desperately needs.
A study done by Aberdeen group (2012-13) found significantly improved commercial functional performance from the respondent companies with or without mobile software initiative (MSI). Organizations with an interactive mobile app demonstrate over 50% higher numbers in employee satisfaction, operational efficiency and worker’s yields.
Therefore, across a wide array of companies, commercial entities and industries are seriously considering to implement well-thought mobility programs, enabling more and more employees to access pre-conceived enterprise applications and data from a select range of devices. In most of the instances, organizations prepare a hybrid kind of mobility strategy of issuing corporate-owned mobile devices, or bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies and permitting employees to select from preapproved devices, all in an effort to enable “anytime, anywhere” code of standards productivity and boost employee satisfaction.
What are the issues?
Irrespective of the trade corporations promote, accept, or rule out the use of personal devices, mobility abundance inside the workplace generates specific issues and challenges for organizations, teams as well as individuals such as:
- Mitigating security as well as privacy threats e.g. malware and loss of business confidentiality plus IP.
- Optimizing resources required to get mobile devices onboard and enforcement of corporate access policies on any of the device.
- Monitoring & control the devices and data on the network.
- Providing a mobile experience equivalent to the wired experience.
Security is the biggest issue and it goes hand in hand with mobile computing. Businesses fear employees may lose their devices or may expose confidential commercial data related to business or customers. Related concern in allowing public-domain apps and enterprise apps at the same time on the employee’s device in BYOD model, can compromise official data further prone to security breaches. Moreover, as most enterprise apps require data sync capabilities to upload and download data at run time, the likelihood of diffusion of malware from employee devices to the back office IT system runs to a certain extent towering.
This is the point where Enterprise App Stores (EAS) come into scene. An EAS ensures pre-tested, secure, trusted and authentic app distribution and has significant returns:
- EAS provides a trusted one-stop app shop for employees to download and use all business and utility apps.
- It increases employee productivity by ensuring availability of apps anytime, anywhere on their mobile devices.
- Pre-tested and authenticated third-party apps may be made available to employees at a reasonable cost utilizing bulk licensing.
- Organizations can provide role-based downloading and usage access to the employees
- Companies may securely monitor the access and usage of mobile apps for data security.
- Companies may block the access and usage of mobile apps at any point of time to the specific employee in case of threat or resignation or lose of device for data security.
A recent Gartner report has predicted that 25% of enterprises will have their own Enterprise App Stores by 2017.
What are implementation challenges and are solutions available?
In current business environment, employees are using desktop-based enterprise business applications, some of which provide all of features to every single hand and make the whole application quite complicated and difficult to use. Moreover, not all features and functionalities are worthwhile for every role in a company. Role-based mobile apps gives solution to this problem. Different apps for different functional employees should be made available according to their scope of work e.g. sales and marketing app, apps in manufacturing, apps in people management, apps for R&D etc. Similarly, different specialized apps for specific industrial verticals and domains may be developed such as apps in healthcare, apps in education, apps in transport & logistics, apps in traffic control etc.
For many business entities, the various types of mobile strategies pose big challenges in determining “who owns?” and “who should initiate the mobility?”. As for initiating the mobile scheme is concerned, the answer lies in answering the question, “who is best placed to define the role of mobility for the company, as well as analyzing and determining the optimal applications for mobility?”. In most of the companies, mobility programs are headed by the IT organization, but the operational transformation requires a team comprising business SME and IT. Business managers take the lead in identifying and prioritizing the functionality of mobile apps and the art of possibilities with innovative approaches or strategies to monitor and control its access. The IT department sets up the “plumbing” — the mobile architecture, hardware/software, security and app distribution infrastructure, as well as puts in place the “supply chain” to drive app development, maintenance and support.
A cloud-based EAS with pre-configured business applications may help internal administration and management as well as external interaction for distribution that may led businesses to improve trade collaborations quickly in securely controlled environment. In a conventional commercial ecosystem, apart from the internal employees, distributors, stockiest, local wholesale outlets, and retailers may serve as the direct customers or business partners of a company. Cloud-based external as well as internal facing EAS serve as a controlled and monitored gateway to access critical enterprise applications for both kind of critical human resources. Some of these customers will require only a B2B portal to interact with the company to place orders and download product and price details, while many others may collaborate to participate in the supply chain architecture of the company. Since, a cloud based app may be configured not to store any corporate data on device, it will give trusted environment for organizational needs.
However, since different customers and partners use different nomenclature to define product hierarchies in their IT systems, master data mapping becomes extremely difficult. Integration requirements of IT systems intended by various trade partners and customers in the downstream supply chain obstruct the rollout of best practices. These challenges are amongst the biggest barriers faced by the companies seeking access to expand in emerging markets. Moreover, these challenges make it tricky and complex to get distributors or other business partners on board swiftly.
Future Trends & Opportunities?
Enterprise mobility is providing exciting opportunities in mobile device management MDM to another MDM i.e. mobile data management. Enormous necessity of efficient and innovative technical products, solutions and integrated platforms in big data, network security, wireless mobility, app user’s interactions domain are pushing demand for these skills. Mobility projects have also significantly flourished, with many government agencies planning to roll out citizen-facing apps to improve upon government information accessibility and convenience that is otherwise difficult to achieve in staff-heavy environments. Mobility will push higher accountability and deliver more representative government with greater transparency as well as accessibility to all parties and every agency. This will further enable real time and better decision-making policies and regulation by incumbent government with greater electorate satisfaction.
Pankaj Pathak, director (R&D) with Kadenza Infosolutions