Mobility strategies and solutions have recently become a common theme of my daily engagements with enterprise customers. “Successfully delivering an enterprise mobility strategy and associated solution set is often a difficult balancing act for any IT department, and never before has the battle been so pronounced, specifically across the old classic of security, versus convenience and usability” — Martin Carry, head of Enterprise for Evros Technology Group.
In my personal life, the applications available to me are weighted heavily on the side of usability. Cloud and mobile native applications perform across any device often with identity options anchored in Google or Facebook accounts.
At work I have a similar experience in leveraging Office 365, Skype for Business, and Virtual desktop. This is simple to achieve, given that most of the business applications I use are SaaS based.
However, in many enterprises applications from a variety of generations support various lines of business functions most commonly served from Active Directory.
These can provide critical business functions but present a challenge to serve to a mobile user. Add to this dynamic the expectations from both user and customers that in an always connected world location is no longer a barrier to information, access and productivity.
So how to move forward?
Develop an Enterprise Mobility Strategy:
The first step is to develop a strategy. Enterprise mobility incorporates elements across several technology areas, not all of which can be refreshed immediately to transform the IT capability. So a strategy is critical to allow point elements to be implemented and refreshed over a period of time to deliver an end-to-end mobility solution.
This is in essence aligning a technology roadmap with lifecycle management and IT procurement.
“The strategy must cover the business decision on how data is protected,” says Carry. What data is allowed on what devices, and what protection and governance needs to be in place. Getting buy-in for these business decisions is key to defining where the balance of security vs usability lies. It also allows IT to defend security controls that may prohibit some functionality in a more informed manner to the customer.
Next for the technology. There are hundreds of vendors and platforms that can come under consideration for mobility solutions. Broadly when sifting through options, I divide the them into four potential streams:
- Mobile Native Applications — be it to engage with customers or deliver back-office applications users are used to the experience of mobile applications and, broadly speaking, this is the bar for all corporate applications today.
- Enterprise Mobile applications — such as Office, CRM, Salesforce, Power-App.
- Published Applications — Citrix XenApp, VMware Horizon type published corporate applications through gateways devices and multi-device clients.
- Virtual Desktop — Full desktop presentation to the user with a full application set, but no data residing on the user device unless by agreed policy.
Get User Buy-In:
Enterprise mobility is not only directly user affecting, it is user demanded, so it is important when developing a mobility strategy to get user feedback on the technology, the security controls, and the overall effectiveness of the solution.
This is important because as technologist we can sometimes get caught up on what is happening in the back end and not what is directly user affecting.
Hacking the process:
Some tips that we, in Evros, can recommend to get you out of the blocks, and accelerate the delivery of mobile solutions.
Microsoft Power Apps — It’s worth downloading the Microsoft Power Apps mobile application and having a look at the demo apps that come with it. PowerApp allows you to present your files and data in a mobile app format without any coding. Some of the examples include Price Calculators, Budget tracking, Site inspection apps. It’s a good way to quickly develop point applications that leveraging pre-existing process that might currently be tethered to spreadsheets, word docs, or SharePoint folders. So, in essence, you can develop a corporate app for a mobile platform that leverages your corporate identity with no native mobile app development.
Apple Device Enrolment Program (DEP) — This is a free service from Apple that allows organisations to build standard device templates that are applied to new devices upon power on and can ensure mandatory enrolment in Mobile Device Management systems, Zero-touch configuration from IT including applying supervisor accounts, and customised setup assistant.
As an Apple DEP certified partner, we have worked with several global companies who leverage this technology. It is freely available to organisations of all sizes to use.
Desktop as a Service — Virtual Desktop and Application publishing allows companies to retain data within their highly secured environments only presenting user input/output access via any device type. Policies can be defined that prohibit data egress from the organisation based on the location, type, or credentials of a particular device.
“Where we have found interest in our digital planet desktop as a service variant of VDI is for organisations that want to achieve the benefits of VDI without the capital expenditure on hardware, and the cost and delay of an implementation project,” says Carry.
It is also easy to try out quickly on a small scale and scale up on demand when required.
These are just some potential quick wins, to reiterate, to achieve a comprehensive mobility solution requires, a strategy, roadmap, and agreed policies.