Planning for a Mobile Workforce Means Redefining What Mobile Is
DECEMBER 15, 2015 • Blog Post • By Todd Wasserman, HPE Matter Contributor
IN THIS ARTICLE
- The Bring Your Own Device trend is ballooning and with it comes networking, mobility and security challenges
- James Cooper, chief technologist, mobility and workplace global practice at HPE, discusses how organizations can prepare for a mobile-first world
How organizations can meet employees' mobile demands
Today, for the majority of users, the word “mobile” is shorthand for smartphones and tablets, but that’s a quirk of recent history. The workforce of the near future will be truly mobile in the sense that they will be able to do their jobs from anywhere across devices in ways that we can’t even imagine today.
James Cooper, chief technologist, mobility and workplace global practice at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), says this is already happening. “Every 90 to 180 days, something fundamentally new is introduced that makes employees say, ‘If I had this device or this new application, I could be more productive.’”
Corporations have to respond to this demand. Gone are the days when IT would dictate the technologies that employees used for work. Nowadays, IT decisions and purchases are determined by business needs. In 2014, some 74 percent of organizations said they either offered a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy or planned to within the next 12 months, according to a study by Tech Pro Research.
Gone are the days when IT would dictate the technologies that employees used for work.
In such an environment, there’s always something better coming next week. For instance, an employee-driven need for an internal social networking system might prompt an IT department to purchase Slack. Employees doing hands-on work in the field might necessitate wearable computing devices.
Cooper says the general acceptance of BYOD has prompted employees to wonder why they can’t access their work tools via other devices as well. “One of the things I encourage people to think about is, ‘Why can’t I use XYZ gadget to do a task?’ ‘Why can’t I get my email on my kid’s Xbox?’ ‘Why can’t I get my calendar on my television?’” he says.
Mobility is not about smartphones, Cooper says, but the fact that employees “can move across devices with different operating systems and get their work done.”
One major problem with this vision is security. An IT policy that’s too liberal can risk exposing enterprise networks to hackers. Embracing policies that allows users to be mobile across devices requires a different mindset, one that focuses more on securing data rather than just devices.
“If I can protect my content, I don’t care what device you’re using,” he says. “But I’m setting the rules about the data—how it’s used and where it’s used.” For example, internal data about company sales might be severely restricted.
For some, Cooper’s vision might sound bold. He argues, however, that IT departments don’t have much of a choice. If they follow the path of limiting workers’ devices and keeping tight control over the apps they use, then they need to weigh the costs. “The investment for IT departments to continue with that legacy approach is going to be phenomenal,” he says. “And it will also be very restrictive.”
This might not be the course that IT departments prefer to take. However, a more democratic approach in which employees’ needs determine a company’s tech adoption is closer in step with the choices that consumers are making.