The last few weeks have seen many news and analysis items on the enterprise mobile market leader—a player that made ‘email on the go’ a way of life—in addition to creating sore thumbs and marital discord for many corporate executives. After all these years, now there are concerns around national security, not just corporate data compromise.
A few countries have taken a tough stance banning the service or seeking the key to monitor all traffic. The European Union decided to totally shift away to a popular consumer phone for their state offices with 20K+ users. The phone’s largest users as well as the associated services are worried about whether they will be required to shift away within a short span to another option. They are scared about imagining life without the familiar buzz every few minutes (of another email) and business applications.
Today we cannot think of work life without access to email, corporate applications, sales data and many more on the mobile. These devices have made 24X7 slaves out of their owners. Expectations of instant response to a message (irrespective of the hour) are becoming the norm. This increased productivity is now factored into the workload. Apart from enabling the sales force with planning, reporting and sales data, mobile devices have provided even the typical desk bound executive an ability to stay connected at home. Thus enterprises have seen improvements that were not possible earlier. Suddenly, all this appears to be under threat.
Should the CIO be worried about this looming uncertainty? While a total shutdown is not imminent, restriction in services is a reality. This may extend in the future and cripple the basic functioning of these devices.
To me, the answer is a resounding yes. Country laws and regulations are paramount for every entity operating within the geographical boundaries. There is no circumventing these; so if applications depend on a type of service, they may have to be rewritten or discarded. Alternatives should be explored and options made available, should a switch be required to reduce the adverse impact. This should be discussed with the management and the level of impact (if any), be communicated clearly and explicitly.
With an ever increasing number of mobile devices deployed by the corporate or just connected to the enterprise (employee owned), it’s important to periodically assess and review mobility solutions and options. Work with the service providers to create an insurance policy. No one wants to die, but insurance always makes sense.