IT Brief NZ - Mobilising your workforce

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Mobilising your workforce

Navigating the waters of workforce mobility can be hard going. Heather Wright gets the lowdown on the role of EMM and some pointers on how to mobilise your workforce.

Just as our ancient forebears used mobility to gain wealth through plundering other villages and claiming far flung lands, so too mobility is helping New Zealand businesses – no pillaging required.

This time around, however, the benefits are coming in the form of increased efficiency and productivity, cost reductions and happier staff.
And while our ancestors had plenty to worry about in their mobile endeavours, the security risks of BYOD, issues of multi-faceted mobility policies, authentication, customised mobile apps and mobile device management, weren’t on the list.

According to Gartner, mobile device management isn’t high on IT manager’s lists anymore – having been superseded by enterprise mobility management.

In a June 2014 report, the industry analysts noted that as organisations have broadened their requirements to support enterprise mobility, IT leaders are replacing mobile device management (MDM) with enterprise mobility management (EMM).

“Additional devices and applications, as well as the requirement to make data available on mobile devices securely, continues to impel the market forward,” the Critical Capabilities for Enterprise Mobility Management Suites report says.

“EMM suites become broader and more complex every year. They support more device platforms, applications and back-end content repositories, and they provide richer policy management functionality.

“Nonetheless, most of the organisation’s Gartner encounters use only a small percentage of the EMM’s capabilities, and far fewer of the functions they thought they would need.

“This underscored the importance of fully understanding the organisation’s requirements before considering vendors and their products,” the report says.

The report says because mobile devices operate on a sandboxed architecture, management capabilities enabled by OS platforms have a greater impact on a company’s EMM strategy than the capabilities of the tools.

“Platform providers (such as Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft) are increasing the management and security capabilities of their platforms, because they want users to have a native experience on their platforms, and they are willing to build in the requisite security and management to preserve the native experience.

“Organisations will increasingly leverage the management functionality in the OS, rather than rely on containerisation to meet their security requirements. This means that, in the long term, technologies such as secure PIM and mobile application management (MAM) will become less critical. However, in the short term, these technologies remain crucial to meeting today's security and management requirements for many organisations.”

Gartner says vendors will increasingly position EMM as part of a broader offering, with diverse products depending on a vendor’s strengths in areas such as desktop virtualisation, collaboration, security and mobile applications.

“Although vendors will position EMM alongside other products, EMM technology must remain agnostic to the devices and applications that organisations use. The organisation's requirements for collaboration, productivity, business apps and security may evolve, and it's the EMM's role to manage whatever apps and devices best suit the organisation.

The practical side to mobilising your workforce
Ian Curnow, Citrix senior manager of enterprise and mobility says mobilising your workforce is one of the ‘most important and far-reaching projects a business can undertake’.

“Get it right and your business can improve productivity and performance while becoming an ‘employer of choice’ for talented people.

“Get it wrong and you can damage employee morale while losing ground to your competitors.”

Curnow says there are seven key steps companies can take to get their mobility strategy right, starting with aligning the objectives of the mobility project to those of the broader business.

“Doing this ensures the project contributes to a business’ productivity, culture and customers service goals, and helps secure the support of executives whose performance is measured on improvements in these areas. This in turn helps secure project funding and buy-in from 
affected employees. 

“If the objectives of the project are unclear or not properly aligned with those of the business, the chances of its success are dramatically reduced,” he adds.

Curnow also advocates implementing a mobility ‘centre of excellence’ with the IT department to maximise benefits.

“With these projects impacting on most IT functions, including networking, application development and security, these centres of excellence should include representatives from each affected area. These representatives then gain opportunities to discuss mobility in the context of their broader IT programs, overcome barriers to adoption and account for new technology developments.”

Involving business and executive stakeholders in overseeing mobility projects is also critical, Curnow says. Capturing each group’s mobility use cases and accounting for them in project planning and execution is essential, he notes and suggests having project teams report to a committee of representatives of each area of the business. 

“This system of oversight, with project teams reporting as frequently as weekly or fortnightly, is also likely to ensure mobility projects proceed on schedule and meet all their milestones and objectives.

A rigorous oversight process is particularly important for mobility projects spanning multiple countries, he says, with differences in language, culture and technological maturity, having a role to play.

Curnow is also clear that it’s important not to skimp on change management and education.

“Mobility is much more than issuing a few tablets or smartphones to employees. 

“Implemented properly, it transforms where, when and how people work. To maximise the value of mobility, businesses need to obtain buy-in from their workers, particularly older employees who may be less comfortable with change.

“In addition, companies need to educate employees about how to be productive when working outside the office, including when to switch off and devote time to personal activities.”

He says the education programme should also cover policies governing data security, including processes for informing IT of a lost or stolen device to enable them to activate remote wiping procedures.

Selecting the right channel partner and the right vendor is also crucial, Curnow says, along with measuring outcomes and adapting mobility to changing circumstances.

“Expansion into new markets, mergers and acquisitions and new technologies are just some of the factors that can impact on mobility projects.

“Businesses need to be flexible enough to adapt these projects to changing circumstances. In addition, regular or constant measurement of a mobility deployment enables businesses to quickly identify gaps or shortfalls and move to address them.”. 

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