A tech theory coming of age
by Jon Callas - CTO of Entrust - Tuesday, 25 October 2011.
As early as 2005, many industry analysts predicted “consumerization” — the introduction of consumer-owned/purchased devices into enterprise and business environments — would become one of the most important technology trends of the next 10 years (Gartner 2005).

Just six years later, that has already come to fruition. Employees now rely on personal smartphones, tablets or other mobile devices to send or receive corporate email, exchange sensitive information and intellectual property, and even access enterprise networks and applications.

Earlier this year, Gartner also surveyed today’s CIO to gain perspective on consumerization in the enterprise. Gartner vice president Nick Jones’ report, “CIO Attitudes towards Consumerization of Mobile Devices and Applications,” shows that U.S.-based respondents believe in two years approximately 38 percent of their employees will be using employee-purchased mobile devices in the enterprise.

This technology migration introduces several IT security challenges, including identity access management (IAM) obstacles, mobile security and authentication requirements, compliance enforcement and general security policy.

In fact, a late 2010 Morgan Stanley report, “Ten Questions Internet Execs Should Ask & Answer,” states the market will hit an inflection point in 2012 where, conservatively, shipments of mobile devices and smartphones will surpass those of PCs. Understanding this shift, technology vendors like Dell, Apple, HP and Microsoft are heavily investing in the mobile consumer space.

Explosive growth: Mobile devices take over

Any number of logical reasons serve as catalysts for the growth of mobile device use — price, expansion of Wi-Fi, faster cellular data speeds, always-on simplicity, or the ease of finding, installing and using mobile applications.

And as the mobile market share grows, so too have the challenges around mobility in the enterprise. The technology convergence of work and personal lives is real. But organizations shouldn’t shy away from this shift. It’s a permanent change in how people live, not a trend or fad.

As enterprise-specific applications are introduced — whether from the organization or third-party developers — efficiency will grow exponentially. In a 2010 Forrester study, “Insights for CIOs: Make Mobility Standard Business Practice,” senior advisor Tim Sheedy found that “around 75 percent of organizations deploy mobile applications to increase worker productivity, and 65 percent to increase employee responsiveness.”

It’s also important, however, to embrace employee lifestyles during the development of new mobile strategies. Not every person will own the same device (e.g., Apple iPhone vs. Android), so broad interoperability will be necessary. The same Sheedy study discovered interesting growth statistics for enterprise environments once dominated by BlackBerry-friendly infrastructure.

While the RIM devices are supported by approximately 70 percent of enterprises in Europe and North America, Forrester released findings in April 2010 (Enterprise and SMB Networks And Telecommunications Survey, North America And Europe, Q1 2010) that shows support for Windows Mobile (41 percent), Apple iOS (29 percent) and Google Android (13 percent) is growing quickly in the corporate realm.

Additional evidence even goes beyond consumerization; 51 percent of enterprises plan to purchase tablets for employees in the next 12 months, according to a February 2011 Morgan Stanley Blue Paper, “Tablet Demand and Disruption Mobile Users Come of Age.” This is in addition to another 16 percent of organizations that already allow employees to connect to sensitive networks with their own device.

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