Uniting the digital enterprise

Enterprise mobility management isn’t just for mobile devices and applications anymore.

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All this translates to lower total cost of ownership for managing enterprise software and users. Rege estimates that the mobile model costs about 80 percent less than the desktop PC management model. “With user self-service,” he says, “the load on IT is dramatically lower.”

“We want to do what we did for mobile on the desktop. The traditional way of PC management is horrible,” says VMware’s Brannon. He estimates that it costs a company $100 to $150 to set up a single desktop PC — a process that involves installing a system image, layering in security, installing antivirus software and so on. “With EMM, one [employee] can support tens of thousands of devices,” he says.

EMM will set IT free

What will IT do with all that free time? The consensus is that it should build apps, delivered through an EMM platform, that solve problems or boost productivity. In essence, that means adding value instead of spending time on tasks that contribute to overhead costs.

The biggest challenge is making apps intuitive to use, but that’s the kind of challenge that most IT developers would welcome. Indeed, at SAP, Krishnapillai says, “our developers love to build apps and distribute to their peers.” These apps might simply disseminate news about SAP internally or help arrange carpools, but developers can distribute and vet them through the EMM platform without negatively affecting the business as long as they follow certain policies and protocols.

“Customers customize [applications] to the nth degree,” says Krishnapillai. “We have enabled our customers to customize the user interface [and extend the business logic].” Customization has allowed companies to fine-tune enterprise applications to their purposes, but often at the price of creating problems during upgrades or when integrating with other applications. Confining that customization with proper extensions leaves the core code intact while achieving the same benefits.

Transformation requires a strategy

Changing or improving workflow requires a strategy that leverages what mobile can bring to both the business and IT. Most companies have yet to adopt such a strategy, according to Rege. “If you ask if a company has a mobile strategy, all will say yes, but most are still just doing email,” he says.

Creating a successful mobile strategy requires executive buy-in and a sponsor, probably a line-of-business manager. “Someone has to say, ‘I can gain a competitive advantage if I can reinvent this process,’” says Rege. The strategy also needs to account for the IT competencies required. Specifically, the IT team needs to understand the security and application stack for the iOS, Android and Windows 10 architectures. Companies that have high security requirements or are heavily regulated will need to have a clear understanding of what it will take for their mobile applications to be in compliance.

Execution of a strategy often requires collaboration among multiple internal — and sometimes external — groups. “Mobility is not something that one team can own,” says ANZ’s O’Hagan. “The success that we have had to date in the rollout — which will continue into mid next year — is the combined efforts of a number of people from across technology teams.” She says the initiative includes people who specialize in infrastructure, platform management, architecture, security, human resources (the executive sponsors), group communications, digital business and consumer digital delivery, as well as AirWatch.

O’Hagan recommends a divide-and-conquer approach. “Breaking the project into smaller more manageable components and then delivering those components as one team has allowed us to face what started as a difficult challenge with relative ease,” she says.

All aboard

Every stakeholder needs to know the ultimate goals of the project. “Give us a success statement and tie it to tangible results,” says Troisi. He also likes to see a maturity assessment that describes what the final deployment will look like. Such an assessment would, for example, describe a security policy, whether the rollout is global or local, whether there will be a dedicated mobile help desk and whether there will be a center of excellence around mobility.

Another key decision is whether to deploy EMM as a cloud-based, on-premises or hybrid system. Cloud-based EMM implementations are the most common, according to vendors. On-premises deployments tend to be favored by security-conscious organizations, such as financial institutions or government agencies.

Hybrid setups are usually the result of a compromise. “In our conversations [with clients] around hybrid cloud, we see auto updates [of the apps and data] done in the cloud, and client access controls taking place on-premises,” says Troisi. This approach keeps access control behind the company’s firewall while taking advantage of EMM’s capability to manage apps.

All EMM providers have cloud-based offerings, which makes it easy for companies to evaluate them before making a purchase decision. “The cloud reduces the time for customers to evaluate solutions,” says Krishnapillai. They can test each EMM solution depending on what they want in terms of capabilities and security.

Whether in the cloud or on-premises, EMM deployments are relatively fast and less stressful than most enterprisewide projects. “[Time to deploy] varies more due to the culture of the enterprise than its type or size,” says Herrema. “Some of our largest customers have deployed solutions going from zero to 100,000 users in a six-month period. I’ve seen others take that long to get to 500 users.” A company’s attitude toward risk and processes for establishing requirements and policies are key determinants for how long an EMM deployment will take.

Beyond mobile and desktop devices

When you ask experts what other types of systems might benefit from the EMM model in terms of security, connectivity and provisioning services and software, the answer is the internet of things. “EMM is just as relevant to an X-ray machine or a connected car as it is to a smartphone,” says Rege.

Troisi says another “overwhelming trend” affecting EMM adoption is the rise in the number of organizations that are embracing cloud computing. Apps are rapidly supplanting browsers as the preferred means of accessing cloud-based platforms, and companies want to ensure that app-based access is confidential and secure. EMM systems provide a single point from which IT can set policies and manage access, regardless of what kinds of devices employees are using.

Brannon says that EMM can also enable the digitization of manual processes. Take the example of processing a paper form. Converting a form to a digital file is easy, but creating a process that uses digital forms is not. “EMM enables the use case to switch from a manual to digital process,” he says. “You need EMM to manage the scale of it.”

BlackBerry’s Herrema says that use of EMM systems can enable an organization to truly become an extended enterprise. With EMM, he says, “internal employees can take advantage of mobility and then extend the right apps and processes to external stakeholders. EMM provides one infrastructure you can count on for all partners and customers.”

Michael Nadeau is an analyst and writer in New Hampshire.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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