Recent conversations with CIOs indicate that a shift in thinking is underway; organizations recognize that they need to expand their security focus beyond their users and their device(s) to the data both the users and devices have access to. This data-centric security model is helping CIOs and IT leaders to exert greater control and increase their level of comfort with their mobile policies. While protecting data on a server has become par for the course in the enterprise, protecting data in motion is a whole other kettle of fish. The increasing use of mobile devices in the enterprise has employees carrying around (and potentially exposing) more information than ever. A typical mobile device is likely to contain both personal and work-related data – including emails, email attachments, voice mails, text messages, and potentially private corporate data.
Providing access to corporate content is game-changing
The ability to provision and control access of corporate content to mobile platforms represents a significant area of growth, as evidenced by how vendors such as DropBox and Box have seen their subscriber numbers skyrocket as they have made it easy for consumers to access their personal photos, files, and videos on all platforms, regardless of device. However, there are many scenarios for these types of services to be extended into the corporate world so that users have perpetual access to their data and content. What continues to change is the type and volume of content, as well as the places in which content needs to travel to enable business processes. Most large organizations have invested in Enterprise Content Management (ECM) infrastructure, and have terabytes of content siloed in those systems. Mobile access to these repositories has been possible for some time; however, only recently have we seen CIOs feeling more confident in allowing mobile access to this content. This is primarily due to the enhanced security features that mobile-first vendors have implemented in the past 12 months. These vendors have integrated elegant containerization solutions that feature sophisticated authentication mechanisms that can easily interface with existing identity management solutions. Furthermore, the native mobile VPN capabilities on both the iOS and Android platforms continues to improve and evolve, enabling vendors to further enhance the security posture of their solutions and giving the C-suite the peace of mind they require for more advanced mobile enablement.
Smaller vendors are leading the way
While EMM vendors have made great progress in integrating robust MCM capabilities into their EMM suites (successful examples include AirWatch (Content Locker), MobileIron (Docs@Work), and Good Technology (Good Share) and innovative startups such as Big Tin Can, Egnyte, and OwnCloud have proven their mettle in the market, it is only a matter of time before large vendors like IBM and Microsoft enter the arena in a meaningful way. Both of these firms have not only made clear intimations on enterprise mobility, but are ready invest significantly to ensure their position; despite progress with Lync and Delve, Microsoft may need to acquire in this space in order to bolster their offerings. Meanwhile, IBM has made strides in MCM with MaaS 360 to provide scalable enterprise mobility solutions. The question remains, however, as to what the impact large vendors will have on smaller, more agile EMM vendors looking to innovate in this space.
Providing the tools towards a Post-PC era
A variety of tools and solutions have emerged to help address the new mobile workforce challenge ― vendors know a problem exists, as they hear their customers asking for help to deal with the onslaught of data and new forms of mobile content (such as work products from new mobile applications that include forms or images, audio, and video content) that are increasingly common in their organizations. While the ability to discover, search for, view, edit, and annotate an increasingly broad range of content from a mobile platform moves us closer to what many refer to as the post-PC era, it is the incorporation of enterprise features like granular policy control, auditing, and traceability of documents and business content that will give CIOs the peace of mind they need to open up databases and content management systems to their mobile workforce.
Kathryn Nassberg is an analyst at VDC Research. Eric Klein is Managing Director there.