Mobility is a top-of-mind concern for a majority of CIOs today. Companies that are proactively embracing mobility to transform their businesses are incurring much greater costs associated with mobility incidents, but they are also reaping significant rewards, according to a new study by Symantec.
"Few issues command the attention of IT today like mobility," says Francis deSouza, president of Products and Services at Symantec. "The difference in attitudes and results between the organizations that actively embrace mobility and those that are reluctant is significant. Organizations taking a proactive approach benefit much more than those that put it off until they eventually find themselves trying to catch up to the competition."
Symantec surveyed senior staff from 3,236 businesses in 29 countries for its 2013 State of Mobility Survey. Based on a series of questions on how the companies react to change and new technology, Symantec's researchers divided companies into innovators (businesses that are moving ahead full-steam when it comes to changes that have the potential to improve their operations) and traditionals (companies that are cautious, giving more weight to the risks associated with new technology).
"The tack we took this time was to attempt to understand how behavior is affecting results and adoption," says Brian Duckering, senior manager with the Enterprise Mobility Group at Symantec. "Traditionals are characterized by tending to view change as risk. They take a bit longer to move forward on things and adopt newer tech slowly. Innovators create their own change. The innovators tend to pursue mobility, while the traditionals really don't want to move toward mobility."
"Being cautious about mobility is OK. Being resistant is not. End users are actually quite resourceful. If you tell them no, they can actually be pretty clever in finding ways to get around that."--Brian Duckering
Senior manager, Enterprise Mobility Group
"This isn't a good or bad judgment," Duckering notes. "It's really about attitudes to risk aversion. I think traditionals tend to be from more regulated industries or older industries."
Innovators Cite Business Drivers as the Reason to Go Mobile
Overwhelmingly, innovators are pushing ahead with the adoption of mobility. Symantec found that 84 percent of innovators cite business drivers as the most important reason for pursuing mobility. Fifty percent more employees at these companies are using smartphones for business than among traditional organizations. Additionally, innovators are more likely to use mobile devices to run business apps, and 83 percent of these organizations are discussing deploying private app stores for their employees.
"The innovators are really looking for ways to take advantage of mobile technology," Duckering says. "They're asking: 'How do we be more responsive to customers? How do we do a better job for our employees? How do we attract new employees?'"
Traditional Organizations Adopt Mobility to Meet End-User Demand
Traditionals, on the other hand, are adopting mobility but in a more reactive fashion. Fifty-one percent of traditionals say end user demand is the most important reason for adopting mobility. They are adopting mobility, but at a slower pace. For instance, only 55 percent of traditional organizations are discussing deploying private app stores for employees.
"It's reactive," Duckering says. "It's people coming in and saying 'I know how to use my device in my personal life, why can't I use it here?'"
Innovators are also taking a more active approach to implementing policies to manage mobile use, including the adoption of information protection tools. Symantec found innovators are nearly twice as likely to enforce mobile policies using technology, while most traditional organizations are either handling enforcement manually or don't do it at all.
Innovators Pay Higher Costs, Reap Greater Rewards
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the innovators are paying a price for their proactive adoption of mobile technologies. Innovators averaged twice as many mobile incidents in 2012—including lost devices and data breaches that led to regulatory fines and lost revenue. Traditionals had a median of 12 mobility incidents in 2012, compared with a median of 25 incidents among innovators. But on the flip side, innovators reported far more benefits from their adoption of mobility, including:
- Increased productivity, speed and agility
- Improvements in brand value, customer happiness and overall competitiveness
- Happier employees and improved recruiting and retention rates
Innovators are also experiencing nearly 50 percent higher revenue growth than traditionals (44 percent vs. 30 percent). As a result, 64 percent of innovators say the benefits of mobility outweigh the risks, while 74 percent of traditionals feel the risks outweigh the benefits.
"Everyone seems to be getting benefits from going mobile," Duckering says. "We're really talking about degrees. More aggressive adoption of mobile seems to be resulting in more aggressive results."
Guidelines for Mobile Deployments
Whether your organization is pursuing aggressive adoption of mobile technologies or taking a more cautious approach, Duckering says all organizations should consider the following guidelines to make the most of their mobile deployments while reducing risks:
- Start embracing mobility. Organizations should take a proactive approach and carefully plan an effective mobile implementation strategy. "Being cautious about mobility is OK," Duckering says. "Being resistant is not. End users are actually quite resourceful. If you tell them no, they can actually be pretty clever in finding ways to get around that."
- Start with the apps with the greatest productivity benefits for employees. One of the best ways to get started with mobility is to implement mobile apps that will have an immediate impact on the business. "In some cases, email is the app with the greatest productivity benefits," Duckering notes. "In some cases, it's apps to better enable sales and marketing people in the field. There's always some low-hanging fruit that's going to provide that high degree of benefit that should be approached first.
- Look for benefit while minimizing risks. Like innovators put policies and technologies in place to minimize the risks associated with mobility. Ensure secure access to apps, protect your apps and data, put in place effective device management, implement comprehensive threat protection and supply secure file sharing capabilities.
Thor Olavsrud covers IT Security, Big Data, Open Source, Microsoft Tools and Servers for CIO.com. Follow Thor on Twitter @ThorOlavsrud. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn. Email Thor at firstname.lastname@example.org