by CIO Staff

CIO’s Struggle to Centralize Mobile Device Control

Oct 15, 20063 mins
MobileSmall and Medium Business

The use of mobile devices like PDAs and Web-enabled cell phones continues to rise, but CIOs’ control of them does not, according to a recent survey of 319 companies by The Yankee Group. The current lack of control hampers device management, obscures enterprise-wide usage trends and inflates cost per device, analysts say. CIOs will continue to struggle to centralize purchasing and management, but this is a battle you want to keep fighting, says Yankee Group analyst Nathan Dyer.

CIOs need to lay the foundation for how more devices and greater integration will be handled in an overall mobile strategy, Dyer says.

The Yankee survey found that 40 percent of today’s workforce is mobile, defined as spending at least 20 percent of their time away from the primary work space. Almost half of mobile workers use multiple devices. Twenty-seven percent use smart cell phones, 68 percent use traditional or dual-mode cell phones, 48 percent use PDAs, and 89 percent use notebook PCs.

Many of those devices are outside the CIO’s purview. “Notebooks have been under IT control for years now,” says Dyer. However, just 38 percent of the mobile workforce has company-issued mobile devices other than notebooks. Companies would like to boost that figure to 58 percent within three years, the survey stated.

Today, many companies still have limited control over, or even visibility into, just who has mobile devices and how they use them. Since many users choose their own devices and expense the service costs, IT does not get to negotiate discounts, gather peak usage data or control security.

The survey also investigated barriers to deploying mobile data services, such as mobile e-mail, CRM and asset-tracking applications. Top concerns include: data and network security, complexity of integrating different applications and data sources, and device management.

Best Practices

1. Survey mobile device use.

Find out who’s using which devices in your company and how they are bought. This data will help you craft a comprehensive policy to cover purchasing and usage guidelines, device disposal and incident reporting.

2. Create a forward-looking mobile strategy.

Most companies still craft mobile device purchasing rules to address a specific set of workers’ needs or a specific business application, says Nathan Dyer, a Yankee Group analyst. Look beyond voice and determine what technologies it will take to support Web application integration.

3. Consider outsourcing mobile device management.

Vendors such as AT&T, Mindwireless, Movero, Sprint and Traq Wireless on the voice side, and EDS, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Sprint on the hybrid voice and data side, can provide analytics, support services, strategies for reusing devices, and the ability to remotely “kill” stolen or lost devices.

Most Phones, PDAs Are Outside IT’s Domain

While cell phone and PDA use is widespread, CIOs purchase and control less than half of these devices.

95% of mobile workforce uses cell phones

48% of mobile workforce uses PDAs

38% have company-issued phones or PDAs

Big Worries About Mobile Data Services

Top security and management concerns for deploying apps like mobile e-mail or mobile CRM

42% Data security

37% Corporate network security

36% Complexity of integration

32% Device management issues

30% Staffing and support costs

28% Lack of internal management expertise