Summary: For the modern IT leader, the rise of mobility offers advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, it opens the door to near limitless possibilities. On the other hand, it brings some significant challenges that must be addressed in order to capitalize on the advantages of mobility. In this article, we outline some of the biggest challenges, and offer some tips to address each one.
Mobility isn’t just a new trend or a buzzword. It’s the new reality. Everywhere you look, people are glued to their mobile devices. They’ve infiltrated not only our personal lives, but the business world as well.
The rise of mobility is both a blessing and a curse for the modern IT leader. On one hand, it offers incredible opportunities if properly harnessed. On the other hand, mobility comes with its own unique set of challenges.
The problem is, most businesses aren’t harnessing this power.
How can CIOs and IT leaders capitalize on the benefits that mobility offers? They must first address some common mobile challenges. Today, let’s explore a few of these challenges, and explain some ways to get around them.
Challenge #1: Reimagine security for a mobile world
If you’re struggling with the mobile security challenge, you’re not alone. A recent survey finds that over 95% of IT departments are struggling with security challenges in their bid to increase user mobility in their organization.
The fact is, mobility bypasses many of the internal security measures IT departments have already established. It requires a different approach to security.
“Many IT leaders have considerable experience with security but enterprise mobility tends to bring new challenges,” says Nic Grange, CTO of Retriever Communications. “Over the years, IT departments have developed control measures that mitigate security threats such as having a standard operating environment (SOE), firewalls to provide layers of network security as well as using software like antivirus. There are many well established solutions to these problems which aren’t necessarily foolproof but usually provide adequate security for most digital assets. In some cases, physical security also plays a part in providing protection. Enterprise Mobility challenges most of these established control measures. Physical security is no longer an option, SOEs are not that common and nor is it easy to fully control the entire network.”
Challenge #2: Bridge the skill shortage gap
What do CIOs say is the single largest barrier to success? Talent. As Gartner mentions in their CIO Agenda Report, “Talent has now been recognized globally as the single biggest issue standing in the way of CIOs achieving their objectives.”
To make matters worse, this problem is growing. As technology evolution accelerates, finding employees with modern skills becomes even more challenging.
This problem is especially critical in the mobility area. The rise of smartphones and tablets was the fastest growing trend in history. As explained below, it’s a problem on two different levels.
“I’d say that talent is the biggest mobility challenge facing CIOs,” says Rick Hurckes, Services Director at mrc. “Many IT leaders don’t even have the luxury of hiring a mobile developer. They’re already understaffed and working on a tight budget. They have to address the mobility challenges using their current team–a challenge that’s holding back mobile efforts in many organizations.”
Challenge #3: Balance security with mobile data access
On a similar note, delivering secure mobile access to business data is one of the biggest challenges facing the modern IT leader. How are others addressing this issue? In many cases…they’re not. The same survey mentioned above finds that 92% of IT departments still restrict some data access from mobile devices over data breach fears.
The problem with this approach: It often leads to users bypassing IT’s restrictions altogether. If they can’t get the data access they need from IT, many resort to risky workarounds.
Now, am I saying that you should open up your data to mobile devices without security? Not at all. But, mobile data access is quickly becoming essential. As explained below, mobile devices require a balancing act between security and accessibility.
“With mobility, you need to consider the implications of your security controls on the user experience of the apps and device,” says Grange. “While you want things to be secure, you still want your users to use the apps and device. So don’t give your users too many incentives to circumvent security like putting passwords on sticky notes on the back of devices.”
Challenge #4: Maintain collaboration across remote teams
The modern employee can work more hours and from more places than ever before. As a result, we’re seeing more businesses allow for remote work and telecommuting.
While that seems great on the surface, how will this remote work impact your business? How can you ensure that productivity and collaboration don’t suffer across these remote teams?
“As remote work arrangements become increasingly popular, managers are often concerned that camaraderie and collaboration could suffer due to lack of regular, in-person interaction,” said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology. “Even senior executives in a technology-forward department like IT can feel disconnected from remote teams because of limited face time with staff and lack of visibility into how work is being accomplished.”
Challenge #5: Be present everywhere
More and more, we live in an instant world–and mobile devices are driving this trend.
Think about it for a minute.
What do you do when you have a question? You look it up on your smartphone.
What happens when you’re hungry and need to find a restaurant? Look it up on your smartphone.
How do most people consume news these days? On their smartphone.
The rise of mobile changes the way we operate on a daily basis. We expect instant answers. We expect instant access to the data we need.
What does this mean from a business perspective? You must be present everywhere, or risk getting ignored. Here are a few examples:
Suppose one of your salespeople needs access to data while on the road. Can they get it, regardless of device or operating system? If not, you frustrate your employee and hurt your business.
Or, suppose your customers need to check their account information. Can they get to it from any device? If not, you’ll create angry customers.
Or, suppose you’re a local business. Can prospects easily find you when they’re nearby, and need products that you offer? As explained below, being present everywhere plays a larger role in local businesses going forward.
“When quality and quantity are of equal value, proximity plays a greater role in the customer’s decision process,” says Anthony Jullien, Director of IT at Dupray Inc. “The challenge is to be prevalent and persistent – always show up. Being present on every platform is an expensive and meticulous task that requires significant front-end work. One you shift to the management and oversight of the campaigns, it becomes enormously easier. My advice: tough it out and be persistent and gritty through the long lengths of set-up and front-end work.”
These are just 5 mobility challenges facing CIOs and IT leaders, but the list could certainly be much longer. If you would like to add anything to this list, I’d love to hear it. Feel free to share in the comments.
If you enjoyed this article, sign up for email updates
We value your privacy. We will not spam you or share your email address with anyone. You're free to unsubscribe at any time.