From The Editor | January 23, 2008

Mobile Lockdown

As mobile technologies continue to permeate corporate and consumer life, enterprises must adopt management and security solutions.

Integrated Solutions, February 2008

There's no question that mobile technologies have been transformative in both the enterprise and consumer sectors. On the consumer side, recent statistics show that consumers spend an annual average of $524 on their cell phones. That's not far behind the annual total that the average family spends on landline phone services ($542). How these two metrics have tracked over time shows just how much mobility has become pervasive in the lives of Americans. Average annual expenditures for cell phone services in 2001 were $210, and now it's $524. That's an increase of 149%. During that same time period, average annual expenditures on residential landline services dropped from $686 to $542 — a 21% decline. When you look at total landlines and cell phones in use at the consumer and enterprise levels today, cell phones outnumber landlines in the United States by a margin of 250 million to 170 million.

Mobility has also greatly impacted the concept of desktop computing within the enterprise. A couple of years back, several media outlets reported that total laptop sales outpaced traditional desktop sales for the first time in the history of the PC. However, these numbers were largely driven by consumer demand that wasn't equaled in the enterprise space. Now, it looks like laptops will be the computing form factor of choice for both enterprises and consumers. According to reports, the majority of enterprise computer purchases in 2008 will be laptops.  And, IDC predicts that by 2011, 66% of all enterprise PC purchases will be laptops.

It's stating the obvious to say mobility has arrived in the enterprise in a big way and the impact of mobile technologies will only continue to increase. But, if it's so obvious, why do so many enterprises struggle to deploy and manage mobile devices and applications? Two of the big reasons are security and control.

Mobile Device Management And Security
I once talked to an employee of a large enterprise about the type of laptop security his company had in place for his particular device. "If I lose this laptop, I get fired," was the response. That approach certainly makes employees hyperaware of the seriousness of laptop security and data. But, it hardly addresses what an enterprise will do if a laptop is lost or stolen. Other enterprises might not have similar draconian policies, but they are alike in their slow adoption of mobile device management and security tools.

It remains a mystery to me why every enterprise — of almost any size — doesn't have a mobile device management and security solution in place. There are a host of vendor solutions that allow all mobile devices to be managed from a central location. Updates and patches can be coordinated and pushed out to the mobile units from one location. Troubleshooting and diagnostic checks also happen remotely, which mitigates support issues and downtime. Most importantly, these solutions provide a high level of effective and consistent security. When devices are lost or stolen, they can be rendered harmless with a few keystrokes from a central location. Passwords can be changed, data can be wiped, and applications locked down — all remotely. You may never get the laptop back, but you've lost only the hardware, and not your company's reputation.
Enterprises may lag behind consumers in terms of enthusiasm for mobility. But, that doesn't mean enterprises can stop the pervasiveness of mobile technologies. You can curse the challenges that mobility brings or embrace the technologies that make mobility effective and secure. Smart enterprises are choosing the latter.