Mobility’s Rise in the Enterprise

Discussions about mobility’s rise in the enterprise invariably revolve around the challenges CIOs face in grappling with the influx of personal mobile and wireless devices on the job. Employees across the corporate hierarchy look to use these tools for a range of activities, from basic work e-mail access to the ability to tap into corporate data, applications and networks while on the go.

Enterprises are taking an array of approaches to handling this new mobility. Some, such as Wells Fargo, take a strict, no-personal-devices-at-work policy, driven in part by the heavy regulations placed on the financial industry. Others, such as The Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, recognize the value of a mobile workforce and are planning to migrate to an employee-liable model governed by strict security requirements.

The KLA-Tencors of the world are already there, operating in a completely individual-liable mobility mode. Still others, such as Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., are moving full-steam ahead with a range of mobile tools that go way beyond traditional e-mail and calendaring in an effort to enhance customer service and improve productivity.

No matter the business vertical, CIOs generally agree that they face three core issues around enterprise mobility that are going to continue to shape their strategy in 2011 and beyond. These are:

  • security of devices and mobile data;
  • provisioning and servicing mobile users; and
  • keeping ahead of rapidly changing technology.

“People are looking for convergence,” says Don Garvey, CISO of Chubb. “They only want to carry one device. They want their corporate and personal information in one place. Technology can permit that. Our challenge is that we need to secure it and administer it.”

Garvey notes that the concept isn’t limited to smartphones: “My counterparts [at other enterprises] and I are all anticipating a movement toward personal computing devices–laptops and desktops–on company networks. Most companies will permit those devices on the network. I participate in a group of security pros at other Fortune 250 companies, and we collectively have discussed these issues. I was very surprised to learn that nearly every company is looking at personally owned devices and how to put them on their network.” (For more on the Chubb Group’s Strategy, read the article Chubb Group’s Any Time, Any Place Computing.)

Ashwin Ballal, CIO of semiconductor company KLA-Tencor, agrees. ” Our policy is to not buy any of our mobile devices,” he says. “All our mobile devices are personally owned.” (For more on KLA-Tencor’s strategy, read the article iPad at Work: KLA-Tencor Employees Get a Treat.)

This is far from the case at Wells Fargo–at least for now. “We have a strict policy: There is no device that gets onto our infrastructure unless [it is] a corporate-owned device,” says Jim Spicer, EVP/Group Executive and CIO of Wells Fargo Corporate Technology and Data. “[This] simplifies a lot of issues other companies may have with managing smartphones.”

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