Mobile Communications

Dr Prasad Ramanathan (India) - Key Considerations for Guiding the Strategy of Enterprise Mobility Adoption - part I

Three technology revolutions have unfolded since around 1985, the adoption of personal computers, proliferation of the internet, and ownership of mobile phones. Specifically, in geographies like India, the average Indian has started owning a mobile device before even having a land-line. And with the advent of relatively affordable Android-based tablet devices (with 3G connectivity), the situation is ripe for Indians to own tablets even before a personal computer. Based on sales of mobile devices, India is the fastest-growing and second-largest mobile phone market in the world. However, adoption of enterprise mobile solutions is still at a nascent stage in India. Research estimates that India's mobile subscriber base will reach nearly 1.2 billion by 2015 while the enterprise mobile workforce will grow to 205 million by then.

During the personal computer and internet revolutions, these were first adopted by corporations and later found their way into daily usage, when prices fell to affordable levels for personal use. On the other hand, mobile smart phones have been first adopted by individuals for personal use, and are now being demanded by the mobile workforce in corporate environments. In India, even until two years ago (i.e. 2009), company-issued Blackberry devices were considered as a bestowment of special privileges to the company's executives who could access their emails/ calendars/ contacts anytime, anywhere.

However, affordable Android smart phones (in the sub Rs. 10,000/= range), are now owned by many individuals, who are demanding that corporate applications be made available to them on their own devices. CXO's are also aware of the significant advantages to be gained in terms of employee productivity improvement, better customer delight and reduced operational costs by letting employees bring their own devices to work and provisioning these devices with enterprise applications.

When an enterprise embarks on adopting mobile-enablement of applications, there are a plethora of choices to be made. At a strategic level, there are many considerations which will guide enterprise mobile adoption that include defining the business drivers & need for mobile-enabled applications; formulation of governance and management policies. It also depends upon the selection of the right technology ecosystem of devices, operating systems, applications, application development platforms, etc. as well as the quantification of Return on Investment (ROI) from mobile-enabled applications.

Each of these strategic considerations can be drilled down further to come up with detailed guidelines while adopting enterprise mobility. For example, a number of questions need to be answered while formulating governance and management policies. During procurement & provisioning, questions on the kind of devices to be procured, the possibility of allowing employee devices, tracking inventory, corporate application provisioning need to be addressed. From a security perspective, the proper enforcement of security at all levels - device, application, remote lock and wipe, data protection needs to be implemented.

On the governance side, the nature of policies to build, monitor and enforce an effective governance framework has to be prepared. The operations and support section will need to answer queries on the kind of help desk support needed for the employee, software/ hardware infrastructure that is required to run these operations and support functions etc. From a monitoring and management side, questions on how can IT track employees' compliance to security and other policies, and usage of pooled corporate minutes and account for voice/ data usage needs to be included. The decommissioning & device replacement aspect will address questions on backup/ restoration of data from mobile devices, tracking devices remotely and safe disposal when they reach the end of life.

Part 2 will be published on the 1st of October

By Dr. Prasad Ramanathan, Associate Vice-President - Enterprise Mobility CoE, iGATE Patni



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