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Enterprise mobility demands an innovative approach to IT organization

By Jon Kuhn, director of product management, Enterprise Mobility Group, Symantec, special to Network World
April 25, 2013 11:56 AM ET

Network World - This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.

Perhaps nowhere else in IT is the opportunity to innovate as rich as it is with enterprise mobility. Smartphones and tablets offer the chance to improve everything from employee productivity to how you interact with customers and achieve competitive advantage. But most enterprises are trying to implement modern mobility strategies using existing IT organizational structures.

These traditional structures were well suited to managing PCs and laptops, but today it is the IT equivalent of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. To better understand why this is, consider the segments that make up a traditional enterprise IT organization.

[ BACKGROUND: Slew of new smartphones shed light on enterprise mobility evolution ]

It all begins with a chief information officer. Under the CIO are teams such as network operations, desktop or endpoint operations and application development and deployment. Working in parallel to the CIO is the chief information security officer. Under the CISO, the endpoint security team develops policies and puts technology in place to effectively secure the company's information.

So, where does enterprise mobility fall? Regardless of whether we are talking about company-owned or personally owned devices, the answer, unfortunately, is it falls into the gap between these groups. The very nature of modern mobile technology causes it to span traditional IT boundaries.

For example, the desktop or endpoint operations team must be involved with managing mobility because, after all, we are talking about endpoints. However, mobile devices rely on a high degree of connectivity to the network and the cloud, much more so than traditional endpoints, so network operations should have a say as well. At the same time, mobile devices are nothing without the apps that make them so productive, so the application development and deployment team is also in the mix. And we cannot forget that the endpoint security team has to be involved to enforce mobility-related security and compliance policies.

In reality, what is happening in most organizations is that no single group is being given charge over mobility, because each plays a part in the mobile environment in some way or another. Even when one of the teams is given responsibility to oversee mobility, that particular group typically has vastly different priorities than the others. The result is a lack of efficiency and cohesiveness when it comes to enterprise mobility.

So, how can companies innovatively solve this problem? The answer is adapting their overall IT organizational structure to meet the demands of mobility, not the other way around.

This begins with establishing a chief mobility officer who operates at the same level as the CIO and CISO. Alternatively, at the very least it involves creating a director of enterprise mobility position that reports directly to the CIO. Either way, under this individual is an enterprise mobility group with the sole mandate to implement, manage and secure mobile technology. Such an enterprise mobility group oversees all aspects of the mobile environment, from the devices to the apps to the connectivity. This team also enforces CISO-developed policies.

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