Mobility has risen to such a level of importance that many people believe it deserves its own C-level position to advance mobility strategy throughout the enterprise, writes David Akka, MD of Magic Software Enterprises.
One thing for sure is that organisations of all sizes can benefit from central coordination of development and deployment of mobile applications even if it is not feasible to have a single person with a title of CMOO.
Without a central focal point, organisations are exposed to cost inefficiencies and security risks. One organisation interviewed by Forrester confessed that its mobile apps supported over 100 versions of the BlackBerry operating system. Another organisation developed a ‘wonderful’ mobile app, without taking into account the necessary integration points with back office systems, making the application useless.
Without a comprehensive mobile strategy, organisations run the risk that sensitive data will be leaked, necessary integrations with back-end systems will take too long, not be easily adaptable or fail altogether, and secure mobile applications developed by IT will be abandoned for more user-friendly applications in the public domain.
Building a mobile infrastructure
In order to extend business processes intelligently to mobile devices, today’s enterprises can’t settle for just any app. They need apps that enable secure, reliable access to any enterprise data with high availability, a native user experience and support for working offline. They need to support user context across multiple platforms and devices, from a single development effort and with full back-end integration. Security and management functionality need to be built in, with encryption, mobile device management (MDM) support, and user authentication, enabling organisations to monitor and control who accesses data, where, and when.
Making mobile apps a business driver
In order to promote enterprise mobility, IT needs to elevate its position from a cost center to an enabler of new and more efficient ways of working. A key function of a CMOO is to show the business value these applications bring, demonstrating ROI from the costs of development and deployment. One way to do this is to introduce more customer-facing mobile apps which can accelerate sales and improve customer service, bridging the gap between back-end systems and customers.
IT management can leverage the fact that employees bring their own devices to the workplace by developing mobile applications that improve their productivity; transforming them into IT champions.
Context-based user experience
With the continuing rise of mobile devices in the enterprise, businesses get stuck between the rock of “one size fits all”, and the hard place of having to develop separately for each device and operating system.
Ensuring a good user experience is not just about customizing a web-page to fit the different dimensions of mobile device screens, but also takes context into account whether or not the user is on the move and if data input is done with the finger and thumb, or using a keyboard sitting comfortably at a PC. Information also needs to be displayed in a way that it is usable and actionable.
Comprehensive security approach
The chief mobility officer function is also needed to develop and implement a comprehensive security strategy. Enterprise security officers need visibility of their entire mobile ecosystem: the device, the app and most importantly the data. In not taking a holistic approach to security, an enterprise will likely choose point solutions that will not solve the whole security problem.
For example, mobile device management (MDM) solutions which are often used by enterprises as a security solution give control and visibility of the device, but they don’t secure the data or the app.
Similarly, containers create a secure area on the mobile device in which corporate data will be safe, but they can be compromised by surveillance tools on the device, just as with keyloggers in desktop malware. Containers also run counter to the trend of integrating corporate applications by putting up barriers to integration.
Both solutions have the additional disadvantage that they can be quite intrusive to users, preventing them from being adopted; and neither solution is effective at securing data in the cloud.
Even those enterprises that do not hire a CMOO must have well-defined strategy and best practices for advancing mobility throughout their company. Mobile apps can open up an enterprise to risks if they are developed without having an enterprise-wide strategy.
A chief mobility officer function is the best way to develop the necessary infrastructure, application development guidelines and comprehensive security strategies to support safe and effective enterprise mobility.
By David Akka, Managing Director at Magic Software Enterprises UK.
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