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Mobile computing in business: Reduce friction, hide security controls

The mobile computing evolution is in full swing. Among enterprises there's a shift in focus from mobile device management to enterprise mobility management. Mobile tech is becoming more sophisticated, but hackers continue to wreak havoc with malware. Other factors at play include the disappearing network perimeter and the issue of enforcing policy and respecting privacy in the BYOD era. With all of these dynamics at work, CIOs need to set strategy for securing their business' mobile systems.

In this webcast, mobility consultant Bob Egan shares the importance of mobile computing in business. With the influx of mobile computing capabilities shaping business operations, CIOs are faced with two options: Take a risk and choose to be a disruptor by changing mobile architecture and security methods, or go the safe route and fall victim to competitors that are ready to embrace the changes. Not surprisingly, Egan recommends the former option, pointing to a great opportunity in the sheer scale of people using mobile devices globally. Egan also explains the benefits of a hidden, unobtrusive mobile security framework. Watch this webcast to learn the benefits to investing in mobility and mobile security, and understand the necessity of mobile computing in business.

Editor's note: The following is a transcript of the second of four excerpts of Egan's webcast presentation on mobile security. It has been edited for clarity and length.

In the 21st century, CIOs can either figure out how to take a look at the business and the competitive environment and become a disruptor, or be prepared to be a victim of that. If you decide to really go in and change your architecture, change your security metaphor, take a look at mobility plus IoT, plus new analytic schemes, plus redefining the security perimeter, and accept there is some risk and reward associated with that, at least you have a chance of growing and surviving and thriving.

More from this mobile security webcast

Part 1: Mobile technology's impact on business operations

Part 3: Deploying a mobile security framework

Part 4: Making mobile information management an investment priority

But if you don't take a look at that, you can well be assured that your competitors are in fact going to take advantage of that.

And so I think there's three or four ways that we need to be thinking about this, both in the security context but also in [terms of] business impact. I think the first is really about opportunity, when we think about what your fair share of the value associated with 4 billion people using smartphones and how can you take advantage of that to understand the behaviors and desires of your customers and your employees and partners and how you're going to execute.

I think the second is about trust and how you calculate the trust of those relationships, including your constituencies, your clients and your partners. And it also means, how do you protect their security, their safety? It includes everything from their interactions with your customers, clients and those around you. 
 
And the third is about the value ... of the data. This is what I call the digital exhaust. So, if you can imagine for every smartphone or 40 billion IoT sensors that are out there, what kind of digital exhaust is going to be left? How do you want to be clear what your brand looks like in those contexts? How do you want to make your consumers and constituencies feel more safe? And how can you take advantage of that in the most brand-aware way to create more and more value associated with your business?

In doing that, it's a really good idea to take a look at some of these new-idea companies and compare them to some of the traditional [ones]. A lot of people have been thinking about many different financial means to understand when they make an investment in mobile, how do they get the greatest return? And that's true, whether that is how to redefine the security parameter; how to secure devices; how to build, purchase and secure and monitor and make changes to applications. And so it's the whole supply chain of mobilizing the workforce. 

A lot of people get caught up in a lot of different metrics. I would say that there's really only two metrics that matter, and that is to take a look at the investments you make across this portfolio of services that we call mobile, and take a look at how you're going to drive the value per asset and the value per employee. ... General Motors ... and Ford are beginning to realize that maybe they're not in the auto manufacturing business anymore, they're actually in the transportation business. But based on today's model, they generate about $1.85 per value of asset, compared to ... [a company] like Tesla, a new-idea company that is building cars that are far less complicated to build, with showrooms that have far less overhead, and many more self-service options that are available in the digital workplace. And they wrap that by making people feel secure and safe in the way they do business with them. 
 
There's almost a 9.5 value that they create for every asset they invest in. If you take a look at the amount of value that's created on a revenue basis with General Motors versus Tesla, the numbers are staggering: $240,000 versus $2.9 million. So, in the case of Tesla, they have the dealership, customers can configure cars online, the car technology is a lot more simple than gas or diesel in cars, but it can be built by far fewer employees.

If you take a look at someone like the U.S. Postal Service against a company like Box (you could apply this sort of a numerical calculation to any of these online storage areas). But think about the U.S. Postal Service. By and large they're delivering in some secure or semi-secure manner different forms of documents from one to one and one to many, and they generate about $2.80 per asset. [That compares] to Box, which is a digital idea company [and is] generating over $3,000 to essentially do exactly the same kind of thing. And when you look again at the ratio of the value to employee, so their numbers and the ratios are just absolutely staggering.

We've all heard [that] Uber owns no vehicles, Facebook owns no content, and Alibaba no inventory and so on and so forth, but I think the real thing to take away here is you think about building a mobile enterprise, changing the security parameter, building and reinvesting in architecture to make that architecture at least as agile as the workforce and the customers that expect to use it. If you really think about some of the patterns that are being generated in new generations of businesses, they're not necessarily heavily loaded with infrastructure that they own and manage and operate. They're not heavily loaded down with networks that they need to build and they need to own. ... What they are is heavily loaded with things like data analytics to look at security and to consume the intellectual capital associated with the opportunity of ... consumers [that] buy more and [a] workforce [that creates] more productivity. And they do a much better job at taking that intellectual capital and investing it in marketing and directing their communication ... and their brand [to] where they really need to be, to create more value and momentum.

And part of that has to do with how people -- in the security world, in the brand world and in the applications [world] -- are taking a look at how they reduce friction. And there's a direct correlation between driving company value, and driving return on investment, whether it's from security or building applications or deploying devices, against those things that drag down that return on investment. 
 
So, if someone picks up a phone and needs to enter multiple usernames and passwords and start up a VPN, those are different types of transactions that turn people off. In fact, most studies will show that if someone is unable to pick up an application and begin to do whatever it is they intend to do in something like three seconds or less, then they turn off that application and they never come back to it. And so there's always this delicate balance between ... the visible hardship associated with security and those that are not. In fact, I would say the best security that you can design into the end-to-end solution is very strong and hidden and not visible both to the hacker population [as well as] to those people who use it. 
 
Some people tend to get really overwhelmed by big data. They invest too much in the wrong type of assets. And then we always continue to balance the command and control traditions of IT against the changing marketplace that suggests that maybe those command and controls need to be moved off into retirement. And I think those things that really begin to drive value are creating trust; creating immediate return; using analytics and wrapping it into ways that are secure and safer, or make your buyers and your workplace feel secure and safe by using predictive analytics and making it very personal in context. A lot of companies [are doing these things to] reduce the overall friction and drive a higher return on that investment.
 
So, I think it's really about a CIO having a mandate to take a look at how they change the security perimeter, how they look at attack vectors in very, very different ways. But more importantly, [it's about CIOs] taking a look at how they invest in the portfolio of mobility coupled with IoT, coupled with analytics, coupled with cloud, to align and rally the company not just on capability, but against business objectives around the common core. And I think that common core is in fact business velocity.

I think mobile security isn't just about securing devices. There's a suite of individual application platforms, from collaboration to decision-making, communication, connectivity, and access and business intelligence that all need to be considered. So, it's really about re-architecting a lot of the core systems and the security intelligence parameter to be at least as agile as your workers and the consumers that you expect to use it. And so I think that the future of enterprise mobility taken in the context of the evolving mobility work base is as much about building a high-velocity business framework as it is any [thing] else.  

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