Mobile security is a top concern for IT and business leaders. This blog series with Dimension Data explores how organizational leaders can work together to mitigate concern and implement clearly defined policies and mobility goals. This blog will address the opportunities and risk of secure mobility from the top down. The first blog in this series discussing how concerns outweigh actions when it comes to mobility security can be found here. The second blog in this series highlighting how IT and business leaders can work together to develop secure mobility policies can be found here. The third blog in this series discussing how to close the gap between vision and real-world implementation can be found here.

Throughout this blog series, we’ve discussed several key aspects of implementing secure mobility policies and programs to ensure organizations can reap the benefits of mobility now and in the future. It’s clear that mobility is a top priority for IT and business leaders and most have a clear vision of the role mobility can and will play in their organization. Overall, they see both the risks and the rewards.

That said, responses gathered in the recent Dimension Data Secure Mobility Global Survey point to a gap between that overall vision and the likely real-world outcomes organizations will face – given that a number of crucial initial steps can ultimately save time, reduce costs, and, most importantly, ensure appropriate security controls are in place.

In this post, I’ll highlight the real opportunities and risk regarding mobility and security – and how business leaders can address the disparity between vision and actual deployment now and for years to come.

Understanding the Opportunity and the Real Risk

The threat to an organization’s proprietary information is certainly foremost in the minds of IT and security leaders. Interestingly, 71% of respondents of the recent Dimension Data survey indicated that their business leaders view employee utilization of personal mobile devices as potentially dangerous, costly and not business critical.

IT concerns about secure enterprise mobility risk are many. These include the introduction of malware into the environment from largely unmanaged devices or devices that organizations have little to no control over and the data leakage challenges by allowing users to have various parts of data outside of the network. In addition, many IT leaders ask:

  • “How are we actually going to deploy mobility security?”
  • “How are we going to support the users?”
  • “Will our IT help desk be able to meet the around-the-clock requests that today’s users demand?”

While IT departments focus on the technical implications and rollout plans for securing mobility, business leaders feel that it’s a potential risk if they don’t enable users’ mobility needs. Concerns such as employee turn-over and attracting the right kind of talent can impact how the business views mobility policies.

However, as a by-product of staying ahead of the mobility curve, companies are quickly coming to realize that empowering the mobile employee pays dividends in terms of worker productivity and efficiency. In other words, if properly mitigated, the risks will be worth the opportunity secure mobility delivers.

One key driver for embracing mobility is that organizations can retain staff between the ages of 18-35, especially as many in this age group bring or are expected to bring at least one device from home to use for work. Another opportunity mobility offers is increased productivity by mobilizing business processes. For example, think of the time saved by enabling expense management processes and request for vacation time via mobile devices! There is an incredible opportunity for productivity when organizations deploy three to four of the most used business processes via mobile devices. This functionality can extend across the value chain, helping improve customer interaction, enable quicker sales, and more.


A Top-Down Approach

It’s clear that there are both risks and opportunities to embracing enterprise mobility. Today, many organizations are most interested to know: “How can mobility change my business.” From a technical and business perspective, the changes can be transformational. However, the challenge is that there is a significant disconnect between IT departments and business leaders. For example, the business-side thinks enterprise mobility is capable operating at little to no cost. On the other hand, IT and IT security professional understand that adequately protect business assets and data reputation requires significant investment from the business side to be fully operational.

With this in mind, organization and IT leaders must match business-driven policy from an architecture approach. Business objectives and goals must be translated down into actual technical security control and policies to enable that proper secure mobility. This top-down approach can help mitigate the risks IT and business leaders feel and ensure organizations are dedicating enough resources to fully enabling users to leverage existing business applications in ways that substantially increase the opportunities of mobility, such as productivity and happier employees.

More than ever, secure mobility is a moving target and navigating threats in today’s mobile world are essential. The choices that leaders make today will prepare them for tomorrow. For more information about approaches to the future of mobility, check out the Cisco Mobility Security Asset.

Be sure to follow @Cisco_Mobility on Twitter and join the conversation, #FutureOfMobility.

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Jason Harris

Principal Consultant for Security and Enterprise Mobility for Dimension Data Americas