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The impact of mobile technology on business operations

Mobile computing is in the midst of transformation, and the impact of mobile technology on business is visible. Mobile tech is of course increasing in sophistication, and among enterprises there's a shift from mobile device management to enterprise mobility management. Malware tools are also evolving to meet changing mobile technology. Other factors at play include the disappearing network perimeter and the issue of enforcing policy and respecting privacy in the BYOD era. IBM predicts that by 2020, the world will contain 50 billion connected devices, all of which must be protected from bad actors. 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 explains the impact of mobile technology on business. Mobile technology has changed how people live, work and play, and it has the potential to eventually replace traditional computers. While desktop as a platform is collapsing, mobile computing is growing, and with it, an exponential growth of mobile data. Egan goes so far as to say that mobile innovation is the very DNA of today's digital business. Therefore, CIOs who are striving toward digital business need to pay heed.

Editor's note: The following is a transcript of the first of four excerpts of Egan's webcast presentation on mobile security. This explanation of the impact of mobile technology on business has been edited for clarity and length.

Mobile computing really is in a state of evolution. We see the attack vectors continue to grow larger, grow at an accelerated pace, and while we're seeing many of the malware tools and the device management and application tools getting better and better, they're not always keeping up with the [pace of change] of the intelligence associated with the malfeasants out here who are rifling consumers of their privacy, challenging devices and information around security and continuing to raise havoc in many, many ways -- in much the same way we saw in the early days of PCs, and certainly we continue to see in the world of the internet. But I think it's really important [to realize that] every aspect of your business is about to change or is likely to change. We have a situation, which frankly we have not seen before, where every aspect is changing because the amount of data driven especially by mobile is growing at such an exponential rate that we can barely calculate it. Mobile has already created massive impact on the rules of business and in fact how we live, work and play, but I think it's really important to explore some of these seismic shifts that are being created not just by mobile, but [also by] the combination of this thing called the internet of things or the sensorization of everything, coupled with cloud computing, big data as well as an increasing and compelling need for analytics.

More from this mobile security webcast

Part 2: Reducing business friction in mobile computing

Part 3: Deploying a mobile security framework

Part 4: Making mobile information management an investment priority


There's no better place to start [than] by taking a look at the big picture [of] the journey that we're on. One of the most interesting things is that with each generation of technology, we really begin to see big step changes in scale. What I think that scale means is that it becomes a new ecosystem and becomes the new center of innovation. When you think about mobile phones or tablets, iOS and Android smartphones are now outselling PCs almost 5:1, not even counting some of the growth that we're seeing in the tablet market all by itself. And I think over the next four or five years, we're likely to see that ... grow closer to 10:1. 
 
So, I think it's important to realize that this in fact is the new scale of ecosystem. Consider that we've gone from roughly 2 billion PCs in an accumulated way over the last eight to 10 years, and we'll probably top out at an installed base [at] 2.3 billion or so. With smartphones, we're already approaching 4 billion, and when we start thinking about all of these sensors that are being embedded in all kinds of these devices, and external to these devices that we'll have access to, we are really going to see not only the attack vectors from a mobile standpoint continue to increase, but also see the amount of data that is traversing these networks into and out of our companies, into and out of our phones, into and out of our payment systems, and into and out of our healthcare systems, grow at an exponential rate.
 
One of the most interesting things is that people talk about IoT and certainly there's a lot of hype around IoT, but I don't think that the opportunities are limited by that hype, but more about our imagination. Consider what Boeing is already doing with the 787. This aircraft on each route collects 5 to 10 GB of data. Now it's true that a lot of that is sensors related to aircraft performance and maintenance, but another gigabyte or gigabyte and a half of data is also relative to us as consumers ... about when we boarded: Where we're sitting, did we change seats? Did we buy a movie? What did we order for food? Who might be sitting next to us? How might we be related? How did we buy our ticket? What was the channel we bought our ticket on? And by taking and combining all of these analytics, it becomes really interesting how they can apply that to provide better services to us and more personalized opportunities for us to continue to engage with that particular airline. 
 
It also makes it a pretty interesting attack vector for the malfeasants out there who continue to collect information and want to exploit that information, both in the business world and on a personal basis. So, it's an example where IoT is very, very real and we're going to see a lot more of this over the next five to 10 years.

In addition to that, traffic across the board is exploding. Even in the world of laptops and desktops, we continue to see more and more traffic, but increasingly more and more of this on a growth rate is overshadowed by more mobile attitudes.

So, [we're seeing big growth in traffic from] smartphones and tablets and increasingly ... from pretty small sample sets in machine-to-machine [technology in] what we now call IoT.
 
It's also true that this data is not just about access into and out of a company, but across company networks and across data centers.

When we start thinking about the desktop itself, from a stationary standpoint, in the way that we use it and the time we spend on it, we're seeing that activity really dropping off and while the fact is that we actually crossed that threshold on a global basis ... back in 2012. And so, again, this points back to the kinds of mandates within companies to really begin to think about mobile as the center of innovation, as the center and key development that is going to drive the largest, significant growth in how we invest in architecture and how we do business.

What's quite interesting is that consumers use smartphones [but in] the work [world they have] been really a lot slower to catch on, and in some ways, that's because there's been a lot of tension in organizations. [For example], some CIOs [are] looking at the very fast pace of mobile -- whether they're thinking about security, whether they're thinking about application design, whether they're thinking about evolving architectures -- as a very fast, cold, treacherous Alaskan river that can be very, very dangerous. And they stand on the sidelines thinking about what new capabilities that they might bring in once those waters begin to calm, once some of those rocks are removed and once the water becomes a little bit more warm.
 
But the fact is that mobile [is treated that way] because it's somewhat of an oddity compared to a lot of [technologies from] a security [perspective] and an architectural [perspective]. Unlike its forbearers, mobile started in the land of voice, which means it started as the responsibility of telecom and not necessarily within information technology. And many companies are really beginning to get this -- that the smartphone itself has really changed all of that, and smartphones are supercomputers that are carried in the hands, the pockets, and purses of people. And they create an incredible amount of data. And they electronically touch and communicate with a diverse and growing range of back-end systems, and they continue to redefine the people productivity, the network parameter, the privacy and security parameters, not just in the workplace, but at many of the core business models in many companies, whether you're a B2E company, or whether you're a B2C company.
 
And so when you think about this evolution of digital business, mobile, no matter how you define it -- device level, at the information technology level, at the access level and at the security level -- it is, I think, the real core DNA of digital business. And I think it's why it's becoming a key tenet for those people who are redefining how they do business and appointing people like chief digital officers to redefine that business and move forward.

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