One of the challenges when it comes to mobility is too much choice. The solution is a strategy that defines:

■ How, when and where to deploy mobility.
■ Which user groups need specific mobile devices, services and applications.
■ How mobile devices and services will be secured and managed.

Fewer than 40 per cent of the companies I work with actually have such a mobility strategy. That’s a problem, because mobility is an expensive budget line item – and it’s about to get even more so.
If you’re one of the firms lacking a mobility strategy, start by assessing your current state. How many carriers do you have? If you’re typical, it’s two or more.

Fast facts

■ Almost two in three companies
state that mobile devices and wireless
devices for remote connectivity are
being used increasingly within
organisations, replacing devices that
do not have wireless connectivity.

■ The biggest challenge in
mobilising a business process is
justifying the operational cost.

■ The number one stated barrier to
increased mobile adoption is the
inability to prove the business case.

It’s particularly important to compile your user profile. Which categories of users currently use mobile technology and which would like to?
Which applications do they have access to and which do they need?
Don’t forget to assess the level of security and management. For example, are all mobile devices password-protected by default? Can they be automatically wiped in the event of loss or theft to protect sensitive information?
Do you have an asset-tracking system in place so you can tell exactly how many devices you have?

"Mobility is an expensive budget line item – and it’s about to get even more so "

Don’t worry if the answers to the last few questions are no, no and no. Understanding your starting point is the first step in remedying the situation.
Your next step should be to figure out your goals. Are you aiming primarily to reduce costs and complexity? Increase productivity? Improve performance? Improve functionality? Or maximise scalability?
Of course, in most organisations the answer is ‘all of the above’ – but typically they’re in some sort of priority order.
For example, if the plan is to increase your current 100-person rollout to 10,000 by the end of 2007, maximising scalability is probably a top goal.
Once you have the current state and future goals, you can begin to put in place the strategy. Some guidelines:
To reduce costs, buy in bulk. Have an explicit goal of reducing the number of carriers as low as possible – one or two is ideal. Limit the number of devices that users can deploy, and make it clear which users have the right to deploy specific devices. Finally, focus on the “soft costs” associated with asset configuration, deployment and management. Automate these as much as possible.
To improve performance and functionality, push vendors on their plans for capabilities, specifically integration with wireless and key applications.

Managing mobility

The problem is that you can’t really have a good security policy for mobile unless it is part of your overall strategy, says Philippe Winthrop, research director for wireless and mobility at Aberdeen Group. “There is a technology component, a legal component, and a human-factor component, and all three have their own share of risk,” Winthrop warns.
Of course, it’s a lot easier to manage mobile devices and policies if the gateway to adoption is the organisation, and not devices that came directly from beneath the Christmas tree to the office desktop. After all, as Winthrop says, you can’t manage what you can’t see.

Plan for investment. Mobility will be a critical business enabler for the next few years.
By 2009, companies that lack a mobility strategy will be as outdated as companies that lacked websites in 2000.