The Cloud – Gateway to Enterprise Mobility

This post is brought to you by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP’s Make It Matter.

cloud-diagramCan you remember what it was like to do your job ten years ago? For the most part, you were stuck to your desk and most likely using your large desktop computer with a very large CRT monitor. If you were lucky, you might have received a laptop that let you move around the office and/or travel for business and drag along your lightweight laptop. Of course, these lightweight laptops weren’t really that lightweight but they did let you know work away from the office whenever you needed to. Lastly, those that were really lucky might have a blackberry device to keep on top of their email.

The world of mobile ten years ago was one that was mobile, but wasn’t. Sure you could get away from your desk but you weren’t always able to do everything you needed to.   The security issues that existed were fairly minor. Companies setup virtual private networks (VPN’s) to allow access to the company systems from outside the firewall. Access via blackberry devices were fairly secure and straightforward. Access other than VPN or blackberry was generally unavailable outside the office. There was rarely thought given to other mobile devices other mobile access and very rarely the capability for employees to bring their own devices into the corporate environment and network.

Today, mobility is much different in most organizations. Laptops are more than ubiquitous and people are regularly working from inside and outside the organization’s firewall. In addition to laptops, tablets and smartphones are almost as ubiquitous throughout organizations today with many being personal devices brought into the organization from employees.

IT operations and security have their hands full with the various mobile devices and mobility requirements placed upon them by the wants and needs of the organization. Many organizations have mobility solutions and systems on their ‘to do’ list to ensure mobility is implemented in a way that allows the organization to meet their goals and objectives.

According to a recent report by IDG Research, 54% of organizations have a mobility strategy and have begun some form of implementation while 38% of companies are currently formulating a mobility strategy. Those are fairly good numbers that show most companies have identified mobility as a key issue for the future and are trying to address it head on. While these companies seem to have a strategy and implementation plans, both need to be flexible during and after implementation to incorporate new technologies and systems.

One of the main focus points for mobility strategies for organizations should be the cloud. The cloud is a game-changer when it comes to mobility strategy and implementations. The cloud can help off-load already over-burned data centers and IT systems as well as helping to make the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) paradigm a reality with very little overhead within the organization.

Enterprise mobility is a necessity for organizations today, tomorrow and into the future. Using the cloud to help facilitate mobility is a no-brainer today as it allows for mobility to exist from the very beginning of the system lifecycle.   With proper planning, the cloud can bring the ultimate mobility to an organization while still provide great data security and data access from anywhere in the world.

How well is your organization planning for mobility within your enterprise?

This post is brought to you by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP’s Make It Matter.

 

Reinventing a Small Business with Simple Technology

reinventLast year I helped a friend of mine reinvent his business. The funny thing about this “reinvention” is that we didn’t really do much more than change his approach to using technology.

My friend owns a plumbing company that has been in business since the 1940s and has been passed down to him from his father and grandfather. Needless to say, the company has been successful enough to stay in business for over 65 years.

By all measures, this “little” plumbing company, which is what my friend calls his business, is doing quite well. He has ten employees. and they have multiple generations of customers who continue to come to them for all of their plumbing needs. While profitable, the business had only seen single-digit growth in revenue over the past few years, and my friend was looking for ways to jump-start growth.

The only real complaint that anyone could ever make against my friend’s business was that it was stuck in “old” ways of doing business when it came to technology. Employees carried around their “order books” which contained their schedules, work logs, invoices, and payments for the day’s activities. These “order books” had been in use in one form or another since the founding of the company. There was no question that the approach worked, but by using pen and paper, the business was stuck in an outdated and inefficient approach to operations.

My buddy called me up one day and asked for help. He wanted to replace the order book with technology. I’m a fan of technology so I happily helped him kick off a project to replace his business’ pen and paper approach with a technology solution.

The solution was a fairly straightforward one. We built a custom app that connected the business’ Quickbooks accounting software with a custom scheduling application that allowed everyone in the company to have a complete view of each employee’s schedule and activity for each day. Using iPads and/or iPhones each technician could then access their order book via a custom-developed app.

The driving force behind the success of this approach was the ability of employees to access and use the order book application in real time, regardless of their location. For their hardware, wireless and data access needs, we turned to Verizon Wireless to provide the connection and the iPads/iPhones. My friend and I have both been long-time clients of Verizon and felt it was in the best position to help his business the most.

With this new order-book application, the technicians can see at a glance what their days look like, even as their days change due to customer cancellations or new appointments being set. The technicians no longer need to call into the office after each appointment, they can now just refresh their order books to see what the rest of their day looks like. Additionally, all technicians have the ability to enter payments into their iPads or iPhones while with clients rather than taking checks or asking clients to call into the office with credit card information.

The new order-book system has led to much more efficient service from each technician, more timely payments from clients, and much faster and effective service. The business has seen a rise in revenue from service calls that can be attributed to the more efficient use of technicians’ time while in the field.

My friend no longer has to worry about whether his technicians will get all their paperwork turned in at the end of their shifts. He no longer has to worry about making sure invoices and service calls are logged into the accounting system at the end of the day. He no longer has to worry that he’s missing out on clients because the business can’t respond to their needs fast enough.

Now my friend only has to worry about where he’s going to find another technician or two. His business has grown about 30% over the last year, and it looks like he’s going to need to expand fairly soon. It is amazing what some simple technology can do to help reinvent a business.

This is brought to you by Verizon – helping simplify the realities so you can keep dreaming big.

Real World Mobility – Filling the Gaps

Sponsored by Dimension Data.

gray-stone-advisors-man-jumping-over-gap-sunsetI just finished reading through the Dimension Data Secure Enterprise Mobility Report.The report is a nice report on how modern organizations are thinking about and approaching strategic planning with mobility, BYOD and security in mind.

A few highlights of the report where 1,622 IT decision makers were surveyed:

  • 27% said they have a well-defined network policy for mobility
  • 23% said that they allowed employees to download non-corporate applications to increase productivity.
  • Only 29% have ave tested how well their applications work on mobile devices
  • Only 32% have conducted a security audit of applications touched by mobile devices
  • 79% of IT leaders who classify mobility as a top priority
  • 71% named data security as their greatest mobility-related concern
  • 71% of respondents indicated that their business leaders view personal mobile devices as potentially dangerous, costly and not business critical

Some of those numbers (or…maybe all of them) are a bit frightening but they aren’t a surprise.

They tell me that organizations are still a bit confused about mobility.  The survey highlights that companies and IT groups still see a dichotomy between seamless mobility for their employees and rigid and robust security for the enterprise.  While I won’t argue that this dichotomy doesn’t exist, a well developed strategy for enterprise mobility (including BYOD) should be able to reduce the gap between security, mobility and productivity without undue challenges.

Developing an encompassing strategy for BYOD and mobility isn’t easy. There are many areas to consider before rolling out a mobility strategy that cover all areas from security, bandwidth, architecture, BYOD, data governance, backup and recovery and ownership of data/apps when employees leave.

Organizations need to identify whether mobility is business critical and whether personally owned mobile devices fit into their business and strategy.  Based on the survey results, many business leaders don’t see BYOD as business critical but they do see mobility as a top priority.  In today’s world, I do think BYOD and mobility are synonymous so it behooves organizations to build a plan for mobility to include personal mobile devices.

Building a policy for today’s mobile world must fill the gap between security, data ownership, mobility and personal devices.  How well is your organization’s mobility strategy filling these gaps?

Sponsored by Dimension Data.

Incorporating Mobility into your Technology Strategy

Sponsored by Dimension Data.

In Thinking about Robust Strategies for BYOD and Mobile, I wrote:

 A robust strategy for BYOD and mobility requires a re-thinking of the entire enterprise strategy. While re-thinking doesn’t equate to re-working, it does mean a complete end-to-end revisit of the enterprise strategy to ensure BYOD and mobile devices are well represented in everything from security to backup to accessibility.

17775709-a-word-cloud-of-mobility-related-itemsI wanted to follow that up with a real-world example of a company that did exactly what I suggested.

A colleague of mine is the CIO of a mid-sized organization. A few years ago, she’d been struggling with how to incorporate BYOD into the organization’s technology and mobility strategy. Initially, she and her team were trying to ‘add’ BYOD into the enterprise by adding band-aid solutions to try to make BYOD work.

These band-aid solutions allowed devices to come into the enterprise and gave the appearance that things were working for the organization. Very quickly, the IT group realized their ‘band-aid’ solutions weren’t delivering anything more than a way to get user-owned devices onto the corporate network.

For example, these solutions didn’t provide a robust method for backup and recovery of user’s devices. A backup solution for BYOD (and all mobile devices) needs to provide not only backup and recovery but also security and retention for the data itself.

After about six months trying to address the shortcomings of their solution, the CIO decided it was time to take a step back and revisit their approach to BYOD and mobility. She decided to re-think their entire enterprise strategy from the ground-up, much like I suggested to introduce mobility as a key cornerstone to their business technology strategy.

Within six months, the CIO had a viable technology strategy in place in which mobility was a key feature of the enterprise strategy. Rather than an ‘add-on’ or band-aid solution to try to make mobility and BYOD work, they are now incorporating mobility into all aspects of their business solutions.

Has your organization incorporated mobility into your business and technology strategies? If so, how?

Sponsored by Dimension Data.

The challenge of Mobility and Enterprise Security

First it was laptop computers, now its tablets. The enterprise is getting more mobile and IT groups have to find ways to ensure security can keep up.

This mobile world has always brought challenges to the IT group. While IT worries about security and management of these mobile devices, the business is concerned with productivity and efficiency. The IT group is looking for methods to make sure security isn’t comprised while the business is looking for ways to make sure the travel schedules of its employees don’t compromise their productivity.

While the IT group’s focus and the business’ focus may seem completely opposite, they really aren’t. Most organizations have some form of security suite in place that helps manage mobile device security and which covers everything from physical security to data security via anti-theft technologies to managing enterprise security with mobility in mind.

To address security in the mobile world, multiple aspects of security must be considered. Everything from physical security to data security must be planned for and managed. This planning starts at the machine level with the right technologies to help manage and protect computers using technologies like Intel® vPro™ Technology, which adds chip-level security and management technology to computers. Additionally, using management software like Dell’s Management Console, which is closely integrated with Intel® vPro™ Technology, IT groups can implement even more secure and manageable mobile devices.

If a device is lost or stolen, the first line of defense against data theft and improper access is ensuring proper authentication procedures exist on the stolen device. These could be as simple as proper password processes or as complex as physical security devices that randomly select tokens for employees to use to login to the system. These types of systems are well known and well used…but there are other approaches that are less well known.

Dell provides multiple authentication options on their business class laptops using technology like their ControlVault technology for authentication, laser etching on systems for identification and management systems that provide options of remote data deletion if a machine is lost or stolen. These help IT groups ensure proper security is in place on mobile devices.

Being more mobile doesn’t have to mean less secure. On the contrary actually. The move to a more mobile world has forced IT, vendors and suppliers, to find new and unique methods of ensuring security is front-and-center on mobile devices. This allows IT groups to keep their focus on security and allows the business to keep their focus on allowing employees to get their job done regardless of where they are.

Mobility and Security can go hand-in-hand if approached with proper planning, the right management applications/systems and the right partners in place like Dell and Intel®. Having partners like Dell and Intel® allow organizations to ensure security protocols and systems are as embedded as far down into the systems as possible using technology’s like Intel® vPro™ Technology and Dell’s ControlVault technology.

This is a paid post in conjunction with IDG, Dell and Intel®.

 

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