Workplace mobility: Enabling your employees to balance and succeed


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Your employees and colleagues want devices that balance work life and home life. They want to manage their documents and email, and manage soccer practice. And a little BrickBreaker would be nice, too.

These needs are motivating the growing mobile workforce to insist on devices that can balance and multi-task. So, what can your organization do?

The “Consumerization of Business,” often referred to as “the “Consumerization of IT,” is a trend representing a shift of mobile technology ownership and responsibility from corporate to personal. This is not without its challenges for all involved. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Brock of the Global Analyst Insights team at Research In Motion® (RIM®), who reached out to Philippe Winthrop of the Enterprise Mobility Foundation to discuss this trend.

Philippe is the Founder and Managing Director of the Enterprise Mobility Foundation, the organization behind the popular Enterprise Mobility Forum – one of the fastest-growing content and social networks exclusively dedicated to enterprise mobility. It was a pleasure to tap into Philippe’s experience, as he has spent his entire career researching emerging technologies and their impact on the corporate value chain. Check out the discussion below:

Hi Philippe, thanks for joining us today. Can you briefly tell us about your role and a little bit about the Enterprise Mobility Forum?

I am the Founder and Managing Director of The Enterprise Mobility Foundation (“EMF”). The EMF is an independent think-tank dedicated to educating the community and evangelizing the need for mobility solutions in the workplace. We do this via The Enterprise Mobility Forum, which is the largest and fastest-growing website dedicated to enterprise mobility. There, you can read blogs from subject matter experts, download free research, as well as see all of the tweets, videos, news, and Microsoft® PowerPoint® presentations on over 50 different topics of enterprise mobility, as well as interact in a social network with several thousand enterprise mobility enthusiasts across the world.

It would seem that consumerization in the enterprise has become more and more prevalent over the past few years. What can we say about it today?

The consumerization of the enterprise is – at least in terms of enterprise mobility – here to stay…for now. Consumerization is all about personal choice, as opposed to the corporate mandates on what employees can and cannot do or use for their work. It’s really all about the employee saying to their employer, “Let me pick the tools that I think will make me most productive as opposed to forcing me to use what you think is best for me.”

Is this good for consumers and bad for organizations, or can both parties benefit?

Without going so far as calling it “organized chaos,” I do believe this can be a win-win situation. Much of the debate around the consumerization of enterprise mobility has historically revolved around individual versus corporate liability of the mobile devices. This has to change. Once we make the full transition to understanding individual versus corporate RESPONSIBILITY, then I believe we will see even greater business benefits coming from mobility solutions in the workplace.

RIM’s response to this trend is the BlackBerry® Balance™ application. Does it address the challenges and the separation of personal and corporate data?

It does from a technology perspective. An important component of finding the right balance (no pun intended) in the workplace is training and culture…all predicated on having the right business policies for mobility. What are the “right” policies? There’s no right answer…organizations just need to figure out what’s most appropriate for them. However, you have to make sure your mobility policies are not so strict that your employees become less effective.

If you had to guess, what would you say the future will look like concerning this trend of consumerization?

As I alluded to a little earlier, the consumerization trend needs to move towards responsibility. That said, I do believe we will, in the not too distant future, have a mobile industry security breach that will be large enough to raise many people’s eyebrows. That breach will make IT managers revisit all their security policies to see how they can better control and prevent information loss from mobile devices. Does that mean we will then shift back to corporate owned devices? Maybe in some instances, but not all. Three years ago, most mobile devices were purchased by companies. Today, most mobile devices are brought in by the employee. We’ll eventually regain an equilibrium that is somewhere in the middle.

Thanks again for joining us today, Philippe. One last question: if you could only give one piece of advice on this topic to IT managers or business decision makers today, what would it be?

Think well beyond the devices. Devices are the means by which you access applications and data – your sensitive corporate data. That’s why you need to manage and secure not just the devices, but the applications and the data (much like the seven layers of the OSI model). Mobility is an amazing opportunity to change the way your business goes about its business…but you must make sure you have a sound strategy in place for the people, processes and technologies that are going to be used in this new ecosystem.

For more on this topic, read the full whitepaper, “The Three C’s of Enterprise Mobility: Convenience, Control, and Co-existence,” on the BlackBerry Resource Center. Comments poll: Is your smartphone owned by you or your employer?

About Luke Reimer

@Luke_Reimer is a Senior Marketing Manager at BlackBerry helping to design, launch, and manage enterprise marketing programs - particularly concerning content across digital mediums. Beyond spreading BlackBerry goodness in enterprise communities, you can find Luke cooking up a storm, out on his motorcycle (when Canadian weather allows), or digging into a good science fiction book.

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