The Impacts of Mobile Maturity in the Enterprise

A recent survey of UK and US enterprises by Synchronoss was conducted to determine the level of mobile maturity in businesses in 2017, and the effects on the enterprise of each of the maturity levels. Mobile IT is a relatively new departure for many companies, and there have been a wide range of attitudes and approaches. Even today, some companies adopt a “head-in-the-sand” approach, where we find users using various devices and apps for work without the company even knowing where their data resides. Other companies have been restrictive in their approach, only to find that users have used personal devices, free cloud storage and apps and other “Shadow IT” resources to enable themselves when their employer does not. Even though these users are well-intentioned, they still endanger the company, putting potentially sensitive data beyond the control (but not the responsibility) of the administrators.

For traditional IT administrators, mobility poses certain perplexing contradictions. In the past, information exfiltration beyond the company firewall was considered a breach. Even laptops were often required to establish VPN access in order to access mail or company applications and data. Mobile IT was introduced by users in many cases, leaving IT departments reactively scrambling to catch up. This in turn has led to many organisations failing to properly plan the implementation of a Mobile IT strategy.

To understand the findings of the survey, it helps to understand the ratings employed. Eight stages were identified and defined, which fit into four categories:

• Entry Level – Mail, calendar and tasks only. IT unaware of device status; little or no security

• Opportunistic – Limited provisioning beyond email, often to limited user groups. Security ranges from basic device-based to limited containerised apps. Data about devices is collected but rarely analysed. Reports are often manually created.

• Additive – Integration of PIM apps with proprietary apps for a wider selection of users. Collection of varied data and dynamic reporting. Automated responses to select events. All sensitive data is encrypted and multi-factor authentication protects data-at-rest.

• Transformational – Information is securely shared externally with partners, customers, suppliers etc. Contractors can access systems without compromising security. Device security sufficient for phones to act as a factor for authentication.

Of the companies that responded, 38% could be described as Entry Level, the highest in any category. Worryingly, this means that a huge number of mobile devices could pose a significant threat to the organisations they are meant to be benefiting.  A further 43% of organisations fell into the Opportunistic category, with the remaining 19% classified as Additive. None of the organisations identified achieved Transformational status.
Obstacles to achieving Mobile Maturity are varied. In addition to the associated costs of mobile devices and associated management tools, there is a perception in many IT departments that all of these additional platforms will mean a greater amount of administrative overhead. However the costs of data protection are always significantly less than the costs of recovering from a data breach, especially with the imminent GDPR regulation.
The survey found that indeed, helpdesk call volumes do tend to rise in the early stages of the Additive phase, as users come to terms with new security features and a wider portfolio of apps. However, once this initial surge passes, call volumes drop to levels as low as the earlier stages of maturity as users become used to the new features and self-service abilities: “Contrary to initial expectation, the more advanced the mobility, the less technical support required – a clear indication of user satisfaction“.  Overall, a drop of 14% in call volume can be expected as organisations transition from Entry Level to Additive.

There were some predictable findings from the survey and also some curious findings. People have spoken anecdotally for some time about the productivity benefits of mobile IT, but measuring it has been difficult in many cases. It has now been found that companies experience on average an uplift of 7% in productivity when moving from Entry Level to Opportunistic, and if they move to Additive, the increase averages out at 15%. Users are more satisfied when they are enabled which also leads to an increased internal perception of the IT department and the CIO. “Simply put, by driving greater mobility maturity, CIOs and IT teams are able to take direct credit for the tangible commercial impacts of increased business productivity, and the likelihood of security and compliance breaches decreasing”.

The findings that are likely to drive the greatest momentum towards Mobile Maturity are those of profitability, with a 29% difference between those at the top and bottom of the scale. Even moving from Entry Level to Opportunistic was characterised by a 9% difference. Remember that none of the respondents achieved the Transformational status, so the full potential of investment in Mobile Maturity is still unknown.

In closing, the report finds that “The further along the maturity model an enterprise progresses, then the more productive it is bound to be. But productivity does not come from the availability of mobile tools alone. It also comes from being able to make deliberate, focused changes to the business’ operations – changes which come from the use of contextual data. That data can also be used to improve security by turning device usage context into a verification factor. And the higher the security, then the more capabilities that can be confidently permitted on mobile devices, in turn improving productivity”, and begs the question “What enterprise can afford to ignore a potential 9% or 11% boost to profitability, simply from making mobility more advanced? And what CIO would not want to further his or her internal reputation?

If you are ready to take your Mobile Maturity to the next level, contact CWSI today to see how we can assess your current state, assist in developing a Mobile IT strategy in line with your business goals, and deliver and support best-in-class platforms and services to help you get the best out of Mobile IT.

The original report can be found at:

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