Posted onin IT Infrastructure and Operations
Oliver Bussman (Chief Information Officer, SAP AG) employs Apple’s iPad as the ideal tool for his mobile work force. The goal, of course, is ubiquitous connectivity. However, what must obtain behind the scenes, all invisibly to the customer, requires a herculean managerial task.
First, there needs be the engineering of a far-sighted infrastructure, one that can support the integration of numerous devices and that is most likely to most cost effectively support the devices of tomorrow. As surely as the end user’s needs will change, so will the devices best for a given organization’s purposes. According to Bussman, “You have to be thinking about new-use cases that you haven’t thought of before.” The successor to the iPad is waiting in the wings.
Second, security requirements must be met despite the desirability of a business intelligence dashboard accessible everywhere instantaneously. Third, strategy must be formulated and the right mobile platform procured. There is no royal road, no universally right-or-wrong path to enterprise mobility. Indeed what is required, as Eugene Signorini (VP, Yankee Group’s Anywhere Enterprise Research Group) has argued, is a new mindset appropriate to a real shift in the computing paradigm.
One has to go from the traditional PC to mobile connectivity, from a monochromatic to a kaleidoscopic computing environment. A successful transition will necessitate the abandonment of old ideas. Applications, to take just one example, must be entirely reconceived for mobility.
Foremost, says Signnorini, a company has to address central control. An infrastructure has to be put down to take advantage of the new diversity of options available and their corresponding technological responses while effectively supporting and managing the diversity. Bussman has said that the advice he would not fail to give others on the verge of enterprise mobility implementation is to exercise much more thoughtful patience on the subject of device lifecycle management systems. Mobility is not best adopted opportunistically.
However, the technological explosion of the last two years coupled with the consumerization of enterprise mobility technology has overwhelmed the strategic responsiveness of many companies. “This is time [pondering device lifecycle management systems] worth spending upfront,” Bussman observed recently.
Empirical evidence demonstrates that time invested in this way pays substantial dividends. According to Signorini, research has revealed a 30% increase in productivity for employees equipped with a tablet. For those with a Smartphone, the increase was about 20%. And this equipment in the field, says Bussman, changes profoundly how he, as an executive, operates.
Signorini sees five key elements to the successful management of mobility
- There is telecommunications expense management. There has to be monitoring on an ongoing basis to insure that the right network plan has been chosen.
- There is connectivity management. A company must be able to identify the right carrier for their needs and actively manage its relationship with this carrier.
- There is mobile device management. The company must be cognizant of how it is adopting and maintaining its inventory of mobile devices.
- There is security management. Are the right security policies being elaborated and enforced?
- There is application management.
A company has to think through how it designs, develops and employs applications. If these five elements are not addressed, thought should be given to outsourcing.
In Bussman’s view, the question of whether to outsource can only be answered according to a determination of the essentiality of mobility. However, even if mobility is essential and a company wants to keep as much of the infrastructure in-house as possible, there remain components that are best outsourced.
Telecommunications expense management is probably best with outside experts involved, firms that are indeed very effective. Yet mobile device, security and applications management are probably best within house. It is just the case that the right security policies have to be implemented, that application development has to be strictly controlled vis-à-vis a company’s intimate knowledge of its peculiar work requirements. Bussman and Signorini are largely in agreement on the criteria by which one ought to achieve a mix of out- and insourcing.