Aberdeen Group’s April 2012 study Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) 2012: the SoMoClo Edge supports prior research findings because the CIO must consider enterprise mobility as essential IT infrastructure, and manage it like other core IT assets such as networks, storage, and desktops.

However, the recent convergence of social, mobile, and cloud infrastructure in consumer domains, which Aberdeen has termed SoMoClo, is a driving force in mobile technology adoption, bringing accelerated change to enterprise mobility as well.

Consumer vs. Enterprise SoMoClo
Consumer SoMoClo presumes ubiquitous access to wireless connectivity, collaboration and communication tools, and remote or cloud storage. In this context, enterprise mobility is not a standalone technical ecosystem, but part of a larger continuum of data access and services. 

SoMoClo’s converged technology construct subsumes both consumer and enterprise technical platforms, with the primary differentiator in enterprise SoMoClo being its requirement for security, compliance, risk management, and manageability. 

If IT could adapt and adopt converged technology only when it was truly enterprise-grade, this transition would be non-disruptive.

Image source: Aberdeen Group March 2012

However, this has not been the experience of many CIOs. Because employees bring direct experience self-provisioning consumer SoMoClo as private citizens, they demand the same degree of advanced technology and services integration in the workplace that they experience in their personal life.

The pressure on IT is intense because of the implied threat from employees, who will say: "give me what I know exists, or I'll self-provision."

Aberdeen calls this self-provisioning of advanced technology the IT-isation of the consumer (versus consumerisation of IT).

An early example of this is the influx of employee smartphones (and eventually tablets) into the workplace that Aberdeen has tracked since 2008, now popularly referred to as the Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD phenomenon (see sidebar).

Impact of BYOD
The increasing power of smart devices and the ability to seamlessly serve both personal and business needs are central to their adoption.

Their rapid rate of evolution, with six-to-twelve month product lifecycles, exceeds the ability of enterprise capital budgets to keep pace, accelerating the self-provisioning trend.

The impact of BYOD goes beyond capital budget relief; its effect on already-limited IT support resources, corporate compliance policy, security and data-loss prevention solutions are widespread.

Aberdeen’s EMM report offers guidelines and best practices for IT to effectively manage these disruptive and potentially transformative forces.

Figure 1 indicates the top strategies identified in response to those pain points.

Almost half of respondents intend to ensure that all mobile devices are compliant with corporate standards; indicating the rising influence of process-oriented IT practices it sets the direction for a well-implemented and compliant BYOD strategy, and counters the anything-goes approach to poor BYOD policy

EMM is the only efficient and effective way to enforce device compliance. Supporting a heterogeneous mobile device mix is, for better or worse, required to address the reality of today’s mixed device environment.

Controlling the mobile software application ecosystem was not a top strategy in 2011, and its appearance is both an indicator of the high level of interest in mobile apps generally, and its drive to control apps specifically.

Securing the device and network from misuse or malicious intent are two core capabilities of modern EMM solutions. In other words, the use of EMM is the most optimal way to apply these strategies.

Figure 2 indicates nearly three-quarters of top performers across multiple business metrics (the Best-in-Class) have a process to safely decommission mobile devices when lost, stolen, or reach the end of their useful life, supporting the 'cradle-to-grave' approach among the Best-in-Class in the 2011 study.

They are also 50 per cent more likely to have established policies for employee use of personal mobile devices in the workplace (BYOD).

This correlates with another 2012 finding; whereas in 2011 the Best-in-Class trailed behind Industry Average and Laggards in terms of BYOD adoption, this year they lead with 78 per cent BYOD support, compared to 71 per cent among Industry Average and 68 per cent among Laggard respondents.

That two-thirds of the Best-in-Class have a security policy in place for compliant devices corroborates their full-lifecycle approach to mobility management.

It's not just about security of devices, data, applications, users, or networks - it's about the security and compliance of all of them.

Image source: Aberdeen Group March 2012

The emergence of mobile Data Loss Prevention (DLP) in Figure 3 as a Best-in-Class capability is a relatively new and encouraging sign.

DLP refers to technology solutions and/or processes that avoid or minimise the unintentional loss of company confidential information residing on mobile devices, a particularly sensitive issue with BYOD.

Moreover, Best-in-Class are almost twice as likely as Industry Average and Laggards to address this vulnerability.

Avoiding BYOD’s Hidden Costs
To set realistic expectations amongst their peers, the CIO should communicate that the true benefit and purpose of supporting BYOD in the SoMoClo era is not primarily to reduce capital expenditures, but to foster increased productivity and engagement by securely propagating enterprise mobility and its benefits across a range of job functions.

The often used capital reduction justification on its own merit may remain an elusive goal.

Aberdeen research indicates that implementing a BYOD strategy without strong EMM can cost an average of 33 percent more per mobile user per year than a company-liable approach.

While BYOD will grow regardless of official sanction, steps can be taken to avoid the hidden costs of BYOD that include disaggregated carrier billing, growth in untrackable expense reimbursement, increased support burdens, and the aforementioned security and compliance concerns.

Aberdeen recommends a best-practices application of EMM technologies to avoid the anything-goes approach, which can quickly derail the organisational benefits derived from widespread enterprise mobility adoption and BYOD initiatives.

 Andrew Borg is Research Director, Mobility Centre of Excellence at Aberdeen Group

Pic: cameronneylon cc2.0