Mobility, how are you moving my business?

Enterprise mobility is moving from in-office and occasional to holistic solutions that empower users and companies; but what technologies define it and how can companies optimise for it?
By Tamsin Oxford
Johannesburg, 17 May 2023
What is enterprise mobility?

On the one hand, it’s defined as a way of using mobile devices and management tools to empower employees to connect and collaborate more effectively regardless of location and within tightly managed security. On the other, it’s less a bunch of tools and technologies and more of an experience. As Forrester describes it, enterprise mobility is the ‘sum of all the perceptions that employees have about working with the technology they use to complete their daily work and manage their relationship(s)’. It is, says Forrester, a DEX – a digital employee experience.

Today, enterprise mobility is actually both. It has undergone a radical change in its capabilities and its relevance over the past three years and is now under pressure to provide holistic mobility that empowers users and allows for businesses to create ecosystems that span offices, homes, and anywhere in between. It’s also become far more attuned to the mobile connectivity needs of the user so it improves productivity, customer service and the overall business culture.

But what does that mean?

Enterprise mobility has traditionally been associated with terms like mobile device management (MDM), unified endpoint management (UEM) and telecom expense management (TEM) and has had services like 5G, 4G, edge compute, fixed wireless, and mobile private networks wrapped around it to ensure connectivity remains at its core. Organisations use smartphones, tablets and laptops on top of its regular technology stack to ensure that this connectivity infrastructure is accessible, and leverage apps and software to then enhance these technologies in ways that promote productivity and, of course, mobility.

In short, enterprise mobility is providing people with the tools they need to work with agility and providing the business with the visibility it needs to manage these tools.

What else can it do?

Hybrid and remote work. That’s really the point. While remote and hybrid working frameworks remain in flux, with many are still hammering out the digital and functional fine print, enterprise mobility underpins their ability to really take advantage of these frameworks.

In addition to ensuring that the business stays ahead of the digital curve and can provide both customers and employees with reliable connectivity and capability, enterprise mobility is all about talent retention and agility. Forrester found that 93% of employees who have a high experience score within the business are more likely to remain with the company while those with a low score are less likely to stay – the more dissatisfied employees believe that IT is not committed to helping them achieve their productivity goals with the right technology, training and tools. This translates directly to the idea of DEX – the more relevant and capable enterprise mobility investment happens to be, the more connected, productive and engaged employees are likely to be.

Enterprise mobility also hands the business a ton of data that can be used to drive customer engagement and retention. Mobility solutions give you the freedom to collect data across multiple touchpoints and then leverage analytics platforms that help you and your employees make better decisions. Plus, you get the mobility benefits of a hybrid and remote workforce across reduced office capex, improved collaboration, better productivity metrics, and smoother data sharing. IDC found that companies investing in digital transformation technologies saw 20% more productivity from their employees.

What are the key considerations?

There are several important considerations when it comes to enterprise mobility and, aside from the connectivity solutions and technologies, perhaps one of the most important is security. You’re going to need muscle on those endpoints and within those ecosystems to keep out the hackers and contain the risks and vulnerabilities. This is both a benefit and a challenge – you’re going to need enterprise-grade security, data management, endpoint protection and more. The benefit is that with all this in place, you’re compliant across multiple data protection regulations and requirements and you gain tighter control over your data.

You have to put experience at the heart of your investment and planning. Companies have gone through the wringer since 2020 and perhaps one of the biggest lessons learned is that people are important. This means that companies with superior mobility are going to snap up the talent. And have happier employees that equate to happier customers. IDC said 85% of businesses agree with this statement, and Accenture found that companies can ‘unlock up to 5x more human potential by paying attention to employees’ experiences’.

What else is cool?

UEM has become one of the key drivers of success for enterprise mobility solutions alongside security and, as GlobalData points out, has become integrated with wired security operations to become a foundational element of enterprise mobility. In addition to offering security and remaining a central part of any enterprise mobility strategy, UEM is proving invaluable to helping the organisation implement richer analytics and ticks the Forrester DEX box. Indeed, it is UEM’s ability to engage with employee experiences and its evolution into end-user experience management (EUEM) or digital employee experience management (DEEM) solutions that have made it increasingly relevant.

Where do I sign?

While enterprise mobility is hardly new, it has evolved. The technologies, the security mandates, the data and analytics potential, the connections with customer and employees have all shifted and changed to adapt to the fractures left behind by 2020. Successful enterprise mobility implementations leverage a comprehensive technology stack that spans cloud, security, data, devices and software to ensure that connectivity and collaboration underpin every part of the process. And don’t forget perhaps one of the most important success factors – strategy.

Enterprises need to understand that mobility technology is not a cure, it’s a means to an end and should ask what’s realistic and achievable, and how they can deploy their technology in a way that engages with their people. Find the right service provider, invest in the right technology mix, and spend time making sure that ‘right’, in this context, equals relevant to your business and secure.

Prashil Gareeb, BCX.
Prashil Gareeb, BCX.

Enterprise Mobility: What have you done?

Brainstorm: What enterprise mobility technology solutions are you using, and why did you opt for them?

Ian Jansen van Rensburg, solution engineering director, VMware Sub-Saharan Africa: We use Workspace One, which allows us to create an application store that manages and secures all our devices.

Yesh Surjoodeen, Southern Africa managing director, HP: HP Anywhere ensures our employees have secure access to their digital workspaces without the need for a VPN, and we use HP Wolf Security to protect sensitive data and manage risk without disrupting the user experience. This gives our employees more time for productivity and fewer hours of downtime due to IT checks and procedures.

Steven Pieterse, CEO, Metisware: Our business has moved from one where everyone is fully employed full-time in the office to a hybrid model. We have quite a few hot desks and so need to ensure connectivity for mobile users that would rival or be better than the traditional cable-point desk spots. WiFi6 has really helped with this as we find that we can connect more users to a single access point. On the 5G side, we’ve become totally reliant on this technology. In our experience, most conference venues have a lag in the mobile tech that they have deployed.

Brainstorm: Why do you believe the enterprise has to have a mobility strategy in place?

Louise Taute, managing director, Westcon-Comstor Southern Africa: A mobility strategy must factor in mobile devices, identity applications, information, content, and even mobile expense management. People need access to these digital assets, but access can’t be handed out flippantly; it needs to follow a strategy that centres on security and user-defined access.

Mandla Mbonambi, CEO, Africonology: Enterprise mobility can’t be implemented in a silo as it might breed undesired results for businesses such as weak security measures, and create cyber vulnerabilities. An enterprise mobility strategy will help minimise these risks and others.

Prashil Gareeb, ME: converged communications, BCX: Enterprise mobility in the form of W6 and 5G can be leveraged by enterprises to shift connectivity platforms and approaches to suit the demands of modern business, regardless of sector.

Brainstorm: What is one key enterprise mobility investment you have planned for 2023, and why?

Louise Taute, Westcon-Comstor Southern Africa: Everyone we speak to is concerned about security for their enterprise mobility plans, from the network to the device, the server, the cloud, and the application. It has layers and layers of security that need to be factored in.

Mandla Mbonambi, Africonology: One key enterprise mobility investment we planned for this year is moving our organisation into full-on end-to-end bespoke managed ICT solutions that will be business-centric. This will enable us to have full control of our IT services, communication platforms, and devices used, and enhance our data security.

Steven Pieterse, Metisware: As a start, we will be rethinking our security architecture, and rolling out WPA3. This protocol has many technical improvements over WPA2, making it a simple decision. Then we will be looking at an AI-based threat management gateway; fight AI with AI, they say. With the need to conserve power, our new office will feature smart-office functions using the Zigbee wireless protocol. This means no more, ‘Who left the lights on?’, or ,‘The air-con is too cold’ fights at the water-cooler.

Prashil Gareeb, BCX: Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) classifies connectivity to objects that are stationary or nomadic. Specifically, for enterprise connectivity, the case for FWA is met with fibre-lookalike features at a comparable or lower cost. The technical features of FWA have improved significantly over the last few years as techniques in propagation and modulation have matured, spectrum has been made available for mainstream pre-provisioned broadband networks and standards bodies push for investment and interoperability in access and transport wireless technologies.


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