Top five tips for managing mobility

If you read my recent column on the untethered enterprise, you're probably wondering what you can do to maximize the success of your wireless and mobility initiatives. Fortunately, Nemertes Research recently took a close look at what does and doesn't work for wireless and mobility, based on an in-depth benchmark of over 200 organizations.  We conducted correlation analyses to tease out demonstrable best practices for wireless and mobility initiatives.

The results are in some cases surprising, in others relatively obvious: Successful wireless initiatives correlate highly with:

* Mobility support being a key criterion in enterprise application selection. Over half of enterprises report that mobile support is a key criterion for enterprise application selection -- and those that do are more likely to report success. Hold that thought, because it appears that application support also drives device selection, as we'll see shortly.

* Conducting a mobility risk assessment prior to launching the initiative.  That includes looking at issues such as data-leak prevention (what happens to corporate data if a mobile device gets lost or stolen?), device management, and even human resource issues like device tracking (is it legitimate to require an employee to carry a device on off-hours, if the device provides IT with detailed location information about the employee's activities?)

* Having a mobility strategy. This one's fairly obvious: IT organizations need to think about how devices, users, services, and applications will evolve, and be prepared to modify organizational and operational structures to address these changing needs. Conducting the risk assessment noted above is clearly a part of such a strategy.

* Planning increased support for enterprise iPhones. Yep, you read that right: There's a high correlation between successful mobility initiatives and increased support for enterprise iPhones. It's unclear exactly why, other than the possibility that organizations that are thinking about integrating mobile devices into application frameworks naturally think in terms of iPhones.

* Planning to reduce support for enterprise BlackBerries. Even more of a surprise: There's a correlation between planning reduced BlackBerry support and  success of mobile initiatives. Again, no clear reason why, but it's likely that organizations that are reducing support for BlackBerries are doing so in part with the goal of increasing application support.

Above and beyond all this, it's important for IT organizations to have a clear vision of how they view mobility's role inside the enterprise. Mobility is one line item in the IT budget that's held steady or grown over the last three years, even as other line items have been reduced by 20% or more. One reason is the increasing ubiquity of mobile devices in daily life; employees are simply more used to conducting their lives via these devices.

But another critical reason is that if mobility is managed correctly, it can be a real market accelerator for many businesses -- giving them a solid, sustainable advantage over the competition.

The bottom line? Mobility is a critical IT initiative, and deserves being treated as such.

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Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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