Mobile World Congress Brings Latest Developments in Mobile – Mobile Device and Mobile OS Implications for the Enterprise

Amidst the many device announcements, one that stood out for enterprise purposes was the Samsung Knox. This device is intended to help put CIO’s mind at ease with BYOD, because it includes MAM (mobile application management), a capability that allows administrators to set policies and control usage at the program level. Samsung Knox also offers a feature that I believe is going to be a selling point for the BYOD debate – it allows for “partitioning” of user personalities, so there is a separate partition baked into the operating system for personal and business use. The benefit of this is that users can bring their device of choice to work, and IT only needs to be concerned with managing the “business partition.” In the event of a data breach, termination, or loss/theft, IT can remote wipe only the business partition of the phone, and the user retains their personal data. Expect to see more instances of this partitioning on smartphones going forward, as BYOD becomes widespread.

The Need to Support Multiple Mobile OS Lives On. Despite the desire of many a corporate IT department to standardize on one or two mobile OS platforms for app development, it appears the market is nowhere near making that decision. In fact, this Congress saw the launch of the much-anticipated Mozilla Firefox OS – an effort that included 23 partners and has significant industry backing. Adding Firefox OS to the already competitive landscape of Apple (Apple iOS), Google (Android), Microsoft (Windows Phone 8), and Blackberry (Blackberry OS, Blackberry 10) will make it difficult for CIOs to limit platform support in the near future. This will require having the resources to continue to develop mobile apps for multiple sources. The industries most impacted will be those that have a significant amount of “users” who are consumers, i.e. financial services and retail, because the differences in display and functionality among smartphones can be dramatic.

These are exciting times for mobile in the enterprise. Companies are exploring how to leverage the new functionality that mobility provides across business processes, and how to balance business goals with IT infrastructure and security considerations. What is most important today is that IT is in the process of building a solid mobility strategy if they haven’t already done so, one that incorporates devices, applications, and infrastructure to deliver the highest potential value to the enterprise.