In 2011 enterprise mobility is truly taking off. Powerful smart-phones are becoming the norm, while more-powerful tablet PC’s such as the Apple iPad, Android-based Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Research In Motion (RIM) PlayBook are set to make major inroads into the corporate market over the next 12 months. Better, more powerful devices that allow mobility, plus increased bandwidth, have created a platform for mobile business applications.
The companies that will succeed in tomorrow’s economy will be the ones who embrace mobility. Organisational leaders will be able to provide their employees with the resources to work at any time, from any location and from any device. Enterprise mobility gives employees flexibility, which makes for a happier, more productive staff.
However, devices such as smart-phones, laptop’s and tablet PC’s only allow mobility. Effectively utilising this relies upon a platform that allows employees to make the most of the virtual environment.
An opportunity for organisational transformation
After more than two-years of organisational cost cutting there is a growing feeling that spend on IT is beginning to increase. As budgets return CIOs are looking at existing resources and no longer wish to use the majority of IT resources just to manage and maintain a company’s infrastructure (Business As Usual).
Instead corporate CIO’s are increasingly looking to free-up IT resources and re-focus their efforts from maintenance and management to strategy and planning in order to use IT to offer a competitive business advantage.
As-a-result enterprise mobility is at the forefront of many CIO’s minds for many reasons, such as productivity and pressure from senior execs and mobile workers to adopt new devices. A recent study by analyst house IDG showed that 65 per cent of employees, who use personal mobile devices for business, report greater productivity.
Employee collaboration is also a key driver of enterprise mobility due to the increasing internationalisation of the corporate workforce and the need for business travel and communication outside of UK office hours.
Device & application development
Enterprise mobility and the growth of new devices go hand-in-hand. The only constant within the device market is change as new product development continues among the major manufacturers.
Device trends continue to have a real effect on corporate IT due to the ‘consumerisation of IT’, the process of using consumer devices within the corporate market. This pattern continues to grow and as-a-result, effects enterprise IT business processes. Add to this the rise of new operating systems and the increase of new technologies such as tablet PC’s and it is clear that mobility is here. The challenge is to provide a platform capable of utilising this.
Whilst in previous years the choice of end-user computing devices would have been restricted by the requirement to support the Windows operating systems, we have now had nearly a decade of application development targeting the browser rather than thick clients. As such adopting a non-Windows device is no longer the barrier it once was to enterprise application deployments.
Indeed many industry professionals are now predicting the end of the traditional 3 year desktop refresh cycle as the focus shifts to simpler, cheaper and lower maintenance browser capable devices.
Mobilising the enterprise with Google Apps for Business
Google Apps for Business increases corporate mobility through powerful communication and collaboration tools for businesses. The service allows employees to work together in real-time on shared documents and sites regardless of location or device through Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Sites.
The service is Cloud based and managed by Google, and it allows employees to access content anywhere, anytime, through cloud based communication and collaboration. According to Forrester Research, Google Apps costs less than one third of competing solutions and significant adoption is being seen to replace traditional corporate messaging platforms and document management applications such as MS Exchange, Sharepoint and Lotus Domino with a platform which is both device agnostic and also supports real-time collaboration.
Enterprise mobility & security
Ask any company CIO about their concerns regarding enterprise mobility and the single word most will utter is: security. Mobile security fears plague CIOs. A 2010 study by analyst firm Ovum found that eight out of 10 CIO’s report that data breaches are their top security concern and say smart-phones increase their organisational vulnerability.
Recent high profile incidents of international data loss have done little for the reputation of IT security. However, the mis-management of company data by some organisations should not deter others to mobilise their own workforce.
Google Apps for Business offers world-class security and reliability and is designed around industry best practice concerning data centre management, network application security and data integrity. Data storage and management facilities have a dedicated security operations team who focus specifically on maintaining the security of the environment.
The platform supports enterprise security features such as two-factor authentication, integration with single sign-on solutions and device management and remote wipe. As the service is browser based with data held in the cloud rather than on the device itself there is a significant reduction in the potential for data loss if the end-user devices themselves are lost or stolen.
Reliability is another key issue and Google Apps comes with a 99.9% guaranteed uptime service level agreement that includes no planned downtime, so employees are more productive and there are no concerns regarding system downtime. Automatic disaster recovery means that you can be sure that your data is accessible when you need it. In practice Google are significantly exceeding their SLA and in 2010, Gmail recorded uptime was 99.984%.
Regardless of industry or size, mobilising the enterprise is imperative for businesses. Organisations are considering mobile initiatives in order to increase employee productivity, help corporate innovation and aid employee collaboration.
Early adopters in the UK and Europe who have benefited from Google Apps for Business include SpecSavers, Jaguar Land Rover, The Telegraph Group and Ahold and many other significant corporates from a variety of sectors are preparing to embrace enterprise mobility.
Innovative new cloud based technologies aren’t just a case of fascination with the latest technology. Instead these are powerful, game-changing business drivers, which are inspiring enterprises around the globe to integrate enterprise mobility into their IT strategy and allow IT to offer a competitive business advantage.
Although consumer devices are already largely used throughout the corporate market, the platform used to offer mobility is the key to unlock true enterprise mobility.