The number of remote or “on the go” workers is rising sharply. As a result, more and more iPhones, blackberry, androids and now the new iPads, and other mobile assets are finding their way into corporate technology environments.
A recent survey conducted by Forrester Research shows that close to 22 percent of enterprise employees currently fall into the category of “mobile information workers”, using a variety of handheld devices to support their day-to-day activities. Additionally, Forrester estimates that approximately 6 percent of the US workforce uses their own personal mobile devices for work-related activities, and that number is expected to grow to 25 percent by 2012.
This rapid growth in the number of new, somewhat unfamiliar assets has left enterprises scrambling to effectively manage them as part of their technology inventory. Since many companies lack the right tools to log and track these devices, they often find themselves unable to:
Collect and Monitor Asset Inventory
Knowing what mobile devices exist, where is each one physically located, and who its primary user? While some mobile appliances, like Blackberry devices, do offer a means of managing all related assets in inventory, this creates the problem of information “silos” that are disconnected from the organization’s main IT asset management system.
Facilitate Software License Compliance
When mobile assets cannot be audited, it creates an opportunity for illegal or unauthorized software use. Companies need to know what software applications are installed on mobile assets, how were they deployed, and if they in adherence with company usage policies and vendor contracts. At the end of the day, from a software usage perspective, these mobile devices are just like any other PC or laptop the organization owns and have to manage its license compliance.
Protect Enterprise Data
Because of the very nature of these devices, users are often required to work “offline”, then connect to and synchronize information (i.e. email, calendars, contact address books, documents, etc.) with back-end systems once the employee is back at home base. This creates tremendous risk, making it difficult for IT staff to know exactly what business-related information is stored on these devices (especially sensitive or confidential data), so it can be properly protected from loss of competitive breach, and recovered if needed.
In light of these issues, and as more and more mobile devices are added into corporate infrastructures, many experts believe that companies must leverage the right IT management solutions to harness these assets, and maintain the same level of control over them as they do other technology components. They must have complete visibility into each device’s owner, applications, function, and more. In fact, Gartner has stated that, by centralizing management of mobile assets, enterprises can save ten to thirty five percent of related costs.