If you don’t have a mobile strategy, you don’t have a future strategy. (Eric Schmidt, Google, Executive Chairman)

Companies have opened their finance purses to mobility in hopes that it can be developed into a business-strengthening plan using time-tested policies already in place. At times this has had negative effects in the attempt to control, or force back, the wave of mobile devices flowing into their networks that are not prepared for the always on wireless connections.

Projections suggest that 72% of the planets 6.9 billion people will be mobile by 2016. (Forester 2012)

This attempt to incorrectly control or condemn this consumer-controlled wave has created environments with little regard for user needs or business goals. The employee reaction has been low return, low engagement and loss of the projected productivity the mobile plan was expected to deliver.

Mobility is no longer just a plan to develop and put in place like any other project. Mobility needs to become a complete company lifestyle that is supported and encouraged at all levels. If you haven’t started to embrace this sort of position then you are already behind.

In order to plan a successful mobile strategy you need to make sure you completely understand what you are trying to solve, match that to your business goals and partner those with the user needs. Notice I said user needs not user wants. There is a great difference here that must be understood in your strategy.

Today’s consumer driven environments change rapidly and can be an absolute minefield to support. It is no longer a concern on what device you are carrying but rather focusing on your employee’s capability to use the device, your ability to control the information flow and your IT staff’s ability to transform into a new role that they may not be comfortable taking on.

Here are a few points that will help guide your strategy planning:

Exercise Control – It has been impossible to ignore the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend. Many organizations will be clear on their BYOD policies and most likely have implemented some form of control in terms of a mobile device management solution. For those that have not and are considering the relative pros and cons, you must understand that it is not just a technology choice. Deploying the correct mix of HR policy, legal policy, technical control and security is key to the successful adoption of any BYOD initiative.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) – Implementing some form of traditional management of mobile device security policies is an obvious necessity and is easily provided by any of the mainstream MDM vendors. As mobile-focused vendors from all disciplines (not just MDM) begin to take a piece of the mobile application management (MAM) pie MDM is evolving and providing capabilities far beyond policy management.. This additional functionality typically supports tailored application personas, enterprise application stores, integration and control of document-sharing solutions and application wrappers that control encryption, access privileges and secure data transmission.

Security – The security risks posed by the implementation of mobile technology are indeed significant. Careful thought and planning are needed to make sure all loopholes are identified and secured. Mobile solution security comes in many forms, and organizations must give specific thought to:

  • Providing solutions for secure remote enterprise network access from a variety of operating system platforms. Moving beyond separate device-level IPSec VPN for secure mobile device communications and look into application level on demand SSL VPN.
  • On-device endpoint protection including antimalware, antivirus detection and on-device firewall (critical if you are dealing with Android).
  • Device and application containerization in terms of only providing access to corporate data from within secure containers installed on the mobile device to provide data protection.

If It Moves, It’s Mobile! – Many think mobility started with the smartphone boom. The fact is, laptops and desktops are still mobile devices and must be considered under the same guise as the iOS, Android and other “mobile” operating systems you manage. This convergence of your mobile and desktop strategy is an answer to the increasing user confidence when accessing internal systems on any device, anywhere, anytime with any device (within reason of course).

What’s New? – The answer to this question will probably introduce hundreds of new technologies and three-letter acronyms that we need to learn alongside additional operating system updates for iOS, Android, Blackberry 10 and Windows Phone. As an example, Blackberry 10 will bring a new user experience, containerization in an enhanced version of Blackberry Balance and the ability to manage multiple mobile operating systems from the Blackberry Enterprise Server.

See the Bigger Picture – Over the years it has been all too easy to only deliver solutions for mobile applications that silo data, and then to eventually require some kind of integration project to try to report on the separate data stores. Of course, as mobile applications continue to grow within the enterprise, so does the amount of data that needs to be vetted and reported. Enter big data analytics and the mobile application platform. These concepts are not just buzzwords; they represent opportunities for the enterprise to finally take control of its cross-platform mobile application development and data.

Once you have these points understood start moving forward with the 4 Ps:

Players – Identify all strategy stakeholders, leaders and end users

Plan – All initiatives have been vetted by the governance team and given correct priority based on company goals

Process – Make sure all processes such as requests from any level in the company are clearly defined and presented to the governance team for review, approval and assigned the correct priority

Partners – Its an overwhelming task to keep up with the flood of devices, develop a successful strategy, roll it all out and keep the sanity of all teams. Your partner resource, such as CDW, has groups of trained employees ready to move your business forward.

The choices are all yours and CDW is ready to stand by your side to educate and guide you with technical experts ready to help make your strategy, planning, rollouts and ongoing support successful.