IT's Mobile Challenge


Samuel Greengard

Every technology solution soon becomes a problem.

Consider: In recent months, smartphones and tablets have washed across the enterprise like a tsunami. Meanwhile, conventional (if you want to call them that) technologies such as wireless cellular cards and WiFi hot spots have become ubiquitous.

The result? A mélange of operating systems to deal with, employee devices to manage, entirely new models for application software (which extend data beyond the firewall) and an array of things to oversee, including provisioning, performance, operations and support, security, expense management and decommissioning devices.

On the upside, mobility is a game changer for the enterprise. It also increases the odds you will have an IT job in the foreseeable future.

On the downside, you might experience heart palpitations as you watch employees lug their spiffy iPhones and Droids into the enterprise and load who knows what on them. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that supporting a tangle of systems and devices--sometimes adopted on an ad hoc basis across departments and divisions--spells trouble with a capital T.

Getting past this mess isn't impossible, however.

Step Number 1: Take (remote) control. Mobile Device Management (MDM) is the foundation for any enterprise mobility initiative. Find a vendor that offers a solution or services closely matching your requirements. Centralize over the air device management, along with remote lock and wipe.

Step Number 2: Put IT Back in Charge. Consolidate mobility initiatives under the IT umbrella. Apply IT service management (ITSM) principles to enterprise mobility management.

Step Number 3: Lock Down Systems. Remote monitoring and security on devices is critical. View data security as an end-to-end responsibility. This includes data encryption, device and user authentication, device security, malware protection, policy enforcement and patching.

For an in-depth look at enterprise mobility management strategies check out this Aberdeen report.

Amid the chaos, it's critical to recognize that IT isn't powerless. Instead of fighting employees about carrying their iPhones and Droids, support them -- but establish rules and dictate the applications and content employees can load on their device. Monitor smartphones and other gadgets and make sure they're configured to company requirements.

And while you're at it, automate service and support, track utilization and oversee everything from provisioning to decommissioning within IT.

You can either let chaos reign or you can reign in the chaos.