Mobile explosion drives ICT strategy
The rise of mobility and the increasing consumerisation of IT are driving ICT strategy in many organisations, though the hype around cloud computing tends to obscure this development.
So says William Hardie, executive head of enterprise mobility at the Vox Telecom Group, who believes that the growth in mobile device use and cloud computing are related. “It's precisely because of cloud architectures that consumer devices such as smartphones and tablets have become so powerful, and so rapidly ubiquitous.”
Garth Hayward, regional manager Africa for Kaseya, says there are three main contributors driving the use of mobile devices in organisations.
“Firstly, the devices offer ease of access and integration to mail and corporate systems; secondly, the increase in productivity and coverage afforded by 3G data networks, so as not having to be in a set location such as an office to access information; and thirdly, the cost savings in travel and time.”
A Managing Mobile Connections Survey, carried out by ITWeb in partnership with Kaseya last month, discovered that, in the majority of organisations (43.27%), more than 81% of the workforce use mobile devices such as cellphones, tablets and laptops for business use other than basic calling and SMSing.
Hardie says enterprise users have reacted with enthusiasm to the fact that there is now an app for almost everything, as evidenced by the staggering growth in mobile data usage.
“The 500MB per month data bundle that sufficed even two years ago now barely lasts a few days. By 2015, Cisco predicts that the average smartphone will generate 1.3GB of traffic a month.”
However, Hardie points out that while all this is good news for users, it's a nightmare for the corporate IT managers charged with protecting the integrity of company systems and data.
“To take just one example, as devices get smaller and easier to carry around, they also get easier to lose. When a director leaves his iPad with its copy of the latest board pack on a plane, the data might as well as be posted directly on the company's Web site.”
A recent study found that 96% of people who picked up 'lost' smartphones tried to access personal or business data, and 45% tried to access corporate e-mail clients, he adds.
The Managing Mobile Connections Survey also established that local companies are leaving themselves exposed to major vulnerabilities, as almost half of the respondents (49.75%) revealed they do not have control over data flow between mobile devices and local data. Only 23.86% said they have control, while 26.4% were unsure.
Hardie says mobile data security and device management need to be front and centre of corporate IT strategies.
“The first challenge is to integrate the wide variety of mobile operating systems - from iOS and Android through to BlackBerry and Windows Mobile - into corporate environments, despite the fact that all are proprietary and very different.”
Regarding mobile device security, Hayward says companies need to have a set policy and procedure in place should a device be mislaid. “Locating, tracking and wiping the data remotely are functions that are critical.”
He also points out that the security of a company's information is of paramount importance and there should be strict policies that govern this. “This extends to access, virus and malware protection, provisioning and recovering data on these devices.”