Mobile device management: How to simplify complexity

Almost three-fifths of IT directors find their team spending more time managing mobile devices than they used to. And it’s not just a few minutes here and there: on average they’re spending 19% more time managing their entire communications estate. That’s not just difficult but it is costing more, at a time of austerity, when the IT function is under the microscope to reduce cost.

Clearly, the IT department is facing pressure on multiple fronts. Changing expectations have created the need for a new mind-set and range of skills. At the same time technological advances are creating their own challenges for the IT team.

On the plus side, significant developments in both fixed and mobile telecoms are delivering added value to organisations. For example, ‘unified communications’ are enabling organisations to converge their increasingly complicated communications estates; and 4G, the ‘fourth generation’ of mobile communication, is helping them work more efficiently on the move.

The benefits of technologies like these can revolutionise the ways in which organisations operate. And although many fear they will also bring increased cost and greater complexity, this is not always the case. For instance, 90% of those who have chosen to adopt a strategic approach to communications now describe it as either beneficial or very beneficial. They have seen it enable colleagues to work more effectively with each other (50% agree), made them more productive (51%), made them more responsive (45%) and improved the service they offer customers or citizens (45%). And the majority also find it cost-neutral – 34% spend the same amount on communications as they did before unifying and 26% have ended up spending less. But the complexity issue remains a worry. More than half of IT Directors describe seeing their communications estate become more complex over the last 2-3 years. 15% feel it is now ‘significantly’ more complex.

IT teams in both public and private organisations need to address and take a strategic approach to three things in order to reduce complexity:
• Supporting a wider range of devices (74% public, 56% private)
• Fully integrating communications with IT (68% public, 54% private)
• Paying greater attention to communications security (66% public, 51% private)

One of the key challenges of supporting a wide range of mobile devices and integrating these with other business systems is the number of operating systems that need to be supported. Indeed, most organisations now support at least two of the main mobile operating systems: iOS (62% support), Android (52%), BlackBerry OS (43%) and Windows Phone (35%). By giving users choice and flexibility, the IT department is exposed to a greater range of applications, bringing further challenges on time, capability, money and knowledge.

The greatest challenges facing IT directors are:
• Keeping knowledge up-to-date (63%)
• Increased and more complicated security risks (59%)
• Difficulties integrating with other IT (55%)
• The need to manage multiple vendors (49%)

This added complexity means that much more time needs to be dedicated to managing the range and diversity of an organisations communications estate. So what are the options? One of the most effective is to outsource parts of the IT function, which can have the advantage of reducing complexity and freeing the IT department to focus on other more pressing and interesting priorities. 31% of organisations have seen the light and already outsource the management of their communications estate. They cite various reasons for doing so, but five are most common.

An outsourced service:
• Deals with complexity (41% cite this as a reason they outsourced)
• Provides a better service to colleagues (44%)
• Ensures a relatively fixed cost (33%)
• Offers cost savings (30%)
• Gives access to expertise not held in-house (50% public, 34% private)

No wonder then that a further quarter (27%) of IT directors are seriously considering outsourcing the management of their communications estate, allowing them time to concentrate on the new challenges that they are facing: driving innovation across their organisation and providing the tools that allow their employees to collaboratively achieve success.

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