How much insight do you have into your mobility strategy? Can you even call it a strategy? Or is your company, like almost half of all large organizations, scrambling to keep up with the myriad devices that your employees bring to work?
Consider this: According to Gartner Inc., by the end of 2004 the number of Wi-Fi hot-spot users worldwide will have tripled, to 30 million, from 9.3 million in 2003. Also by the end of 2004, more than 50 percent of professional laptops will have WLAN capability. Cell phones, BlackBerrys and a host of slick, new wireless PDAs are flooding the market. But according to Yankee Group, only 52 percent of large organizations have a centrally managed strategy for mobility and wireless.
Despite the ever-increasing demand for wireless in the enterprise, mobility is still far from strategic nirvana. Most companies have yet to justify the cost of mobility. To make matters worse, there's virtually no way for an enterprise to track the total cost of ownership of mobile devices. Hardware carries a fixed cost, but access charges vary widely and are often paid for through expense reports, rather than through a central accounting function. And many companies leave mobile phone procurement to individual business units, offering the IT department a clouded view of who has what, how much each department is spending, and whether or not the money has been well spent.
Meanwhile, as more and more employees buy "smart phones"PDAs and cell phones in oneunder the CIO's radar, and use wireless laptops to connect to far-flung corporate networks, enterprise security deteriorates. Hackers can sniff out unprotected connections and gain access to a company's systems, often without the mobile employee ever knowing about it. "It's a security nightmare," says Stan Schatt, an analyst at Current Analysis, a market research firm, adding that the split of mobility management between the IT shop and business units doesn't help. "Most companies have different people looking at different parts of the problem. Some control the telecom budget, other people look at wireless LANs, and there's very little coordination between the two, even though both are essentially dealing with wireless communications."
These issues have put mobility at the top of most CIOs' already long list of worries. "They are freaked out," says Gartner Vice President Ken Dulaney. To get a handle on it, CIOs need to develop an enterprisewide strategy that puts mobility management in the hands of the IT department, allowing IT to properly equip mobile workers, uphold corporate security practices and manage connection costs for everyone in the mobile workforce, whether they're working on laptops, PDAs or five-year-old cell phones.
Centralizing will require top-level support as well as input from all areas of the businessoften a tough task. But laying the groundwork for a mobile strategy will enable CIOs to leverage the investment their companies have already made in mobility for true business value. Not only can a centralized mobility strategy cut costs and improve security, but gaining greater insight into the behavior of your mobile workers can help generate revenue and streamline business processesand that can give your company a competitive edge.