Enterprise mobility trend sees surge in mobile apps

Enterprise mobility is no longer such a scary term for many of the world’s big businesses, with 71% looking seriously into deploying customer mobile apps this year, according to new research.

Almost 60% of firms are now relying on mobile devices for line-of-business applications, according to Symantec’s ‘2012 state of Mobility Survey’.

Businesses around the world reported successful deployment of mobility solutions. The figures point to surging industry confidence in mobile and its ability to deliver value. Generally, the gains expected from new technologies far exceed the reality upon implementation, said Symantec, with 77% of respondents reporting productivity gains after implementing.

However, mobile is not without its drawbacks. Despite this surge in mobility, almost half of respondents said that the trend was extremely challenging, with 41% stating that mobile devices were one of their top security risks. Two thirds said that reducing the cost and complexity of mobile was one of their top business objectives.

With mobile devices now delivering critical business processes and data, the cost of security incidents can be significant. Concerns cited included lost or stolen devices, data leakage, unauthorised access, and the spread of malware. The average annual cost of mobile incidents for enterprises, including data loss, damage to the brand, productivity loss, and loss of customer trust was $429,000 for enterprise. The average annual cost of mobile incidents for small businesses was $126,000.

In Symantec's view, this increased pain level indicates the transition from small pilots and tactical implementations -- where policies are often bypassed and exceptions are made -- to enterprise-wide deployments, where policy standards across a larger scale introduce greater complexity.

"We are impressed by the pace of mobile application adoption within organizations," said CJ Desai, senior vice president, Endpoint and Mobility Group, Symantec. "This cultural change from refusing mobile devices not long ago, to actively distributing and developing mobile applications, has introduced a new set of challenges and complexities for IT staff. Encouragingly, from a security perspective, a majority of organizations are thinking beyond the simple case of lost or stolen mobile phones."

Symantec’s Key Recommendations for mobile deployment

Enable broadly: Mobility offers tremendous opportunities for organizations of all sizes. Explore how you can take advantage of mobility and develop a phased approach to build an ecosystem that supports your plan. To get the most from mobile advances, plan for line-of-business mobile applications that have mainstream use. Employees will use mobile devices for business one way or another -- make it on your terms.

Think strategically: Build a realistic assessment of the ultimate scale of your mobile business plan and its impact on your infrastructure. Think beyond email. Explore all of the mobile opportunities that can be introduced and understand the risks and threats that need to be mitigated. As you plan, take a cross-functional approach to securing sensitive data no matter where it might end up.

Manage efficiently: Mobile devices are legitimate endpoints that require the same attention given to traditional PCs. Many of the processes, policies, education and technologies that are leveraged for desktops and laptops are also applicable to mobile platforms.

So the management of mobile devices should be integrated into the overall IT management framework and administered in the same way -- ideally using compatible solutions and unified policies. This creates operational efficiencies and lowers the total cost of ownership.

Enforce Appropriately: As more employees connect their personal devices to the corporate network, organizations need to modify their acceptable usage policies to accommodate both corporate-owned and personally-owned devices.

Management and security levers will need to differ based on ownership of the device and the associated controls that the organization requires. Employees will continue to add devices to the corporate network to make their jobs more efficient and enjoyable so organizations must plan for this legally, operationally and culturally.

Secure comprehensively: Look beyond basic password, wipe and application blocking policies. Focus on the information and where it is viewed, transmitted and stored. Integrating with existing data loss prevention, encryption and authentication policies will ensure consistent corporate and regulatory compliance.

Learn more about enterprise mobility and cloud apps at Apps World in London on 2-3 October 2012, click here for more details.

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