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Mobile operations and security specialist makes mobile strategies sing

Benjamin Gray and Christian Kane, Contributors

Businesses can no longer dictate the devices they support or maintain veto power over employee-owned devices. Seventy-seven percent of smartphones used at work are selected by an employee, and 48% are chosen

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without regard for IT support.

So what's an IT department to do to effectively support mobile operations?

We certainly don't think you should give every employee a smartphone, so you'll need individuals in your IT organization to step up and evolve their roles from back-office technologists and policy cops to business enablers. A cost-effective, lightweight approach to mobile management will give employees a productivity boost. Today, it's access to email, contacts and calendars; tomorrow, it will be access to apps for the sales force and specific lines of business.

You'll need individuals in your IT organization to step up and evolve their roles from back-office technologists and policy cops to business enablers.

This is where the mobile operations and security professional comes into play. This employee lives in your IT organization -- he or she may even be on your team now. Forrester Research Inc.'s Mobile Security and Operations Playbook defines this professional as:

An individual serving the mobile architecture team who is responsible for, or directly influences, revising the corporate mobile policy document that outlines company standards and practices; selecting mobile platforms for support; managing and securing mobile applications and devices efficiently; ensuring that wireless networks are always available; and liaising with other IT functions to execute on the company's mobile strategy.

Mobile operations and security candidates are likely to be IT professionals with a broad technology background, but you may need to look externally to find a wide range of skills in a single candidate. There are four phases in any mobile operations and security initiative with which this professional is heavily involved:

  • Discovery: Understanding the big picture and the long-term horizon for mobility.
  • Planning: Creating a roadmap linking mobile strategy to business needs, shaping future capital needs and guiding product selection.
  • Acton: Choosing the appropriate technology.
  • Optimization: Measuring the overall success and effectiveness of your strategy.

The mobile operations and security professional is responsible for and/or directly influences:

  • Mobile policy and strategy development. The mobile policy document must clearly articulate the company's vision for enterprise mobility and IT's standards for management, security and support. It should address hot topic items such as corporate-liable versus employee-liable devices; bring-your-own-device (BYOD) support and resources that mobile devices can and cannot access. It should also address management and security controls that may vary due to different degrees of access to sensitive information, mobile device selection and availability, sourcing and expense policies, and support considerations. Addressing these elements requires significant collaboration with line-of-business managers, human resources, finance and legal departments.
  • Mobile platform and device certification and support. The diversity of mobile devices and form factors has driven many businesses to invest in mobile device management and security solutions that allow platform choice, leaving device selection largely in the hands of the workforce. But application and device certification -- ensuring a platform's ability to be properly managed and secured -- is a critical investment that requires careful attention toward new applications and devices. While these technologies are aimed at consumers, IT must now fold them into corporate environments without security and user experience compromises.
  • Mobile device management and security. The ability to support the most popular device platforms is crucial to any successful mobile strategy. As a result, the individual playing a key role in device certification and support should be the same individual supervising the selection of a tool or managed service for mobile device management and security. In addition to acting as a central console for device configuration, these tools will help mobile operations and security professionals with policy control, software push and support issues. The consolidation of device remediation and security tools is also useful for audit and compliance processes.
  • Mobile application management. Mobile applications are quickly becoming the primary way that employees access corporate data and resources. As firms begin to expand their mobile application portfolios by sourcing and developing more applications, the need to distribute, secure and manage mobile applications becomes critical.
  • Mobile expense management. Many firms look to telecom expense management solutions to provide them with bill auditing and device lifecycle management. As more firms embrace BYOD strategies, expense management becomes even trickier, because firms must manage stipends, roaming reimbursement and other associated costs.
  • Network support. Mobile operations and security professionals must ensure that internal networks are always available and can handle new traffic requirements. Organizations are entering a multi-device world in which IT provisions mobile technology while also allowing employees to supplement with their personal technologies. In addition to owning the management and security of applications and devices for employees, mobile operations and security professionals should dictate the timing and rollout of next-generation network technology, such as 802.11n or guest-network access.
  • In addition to these core responsibilities, mobile operations and security professionals must also serve as champions for empowering their workforce with the mobile solutions and services they desire. This means keeping an open dialogue with the business to expand services; adding support for new platforms, devices and form factors; and helping transform the business' view of IT from "reactive to our needs" to "innovation hub."

    Benjamin Gray is a senior analyst and Christian Kane is an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., where they work with infrastructure and operations professionals. They contribute to Forrester's Mobile Security and Operations Playbook.

    Let us know what you think about the story; email Christina Torode, News Director.

This was first published in May 2012

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