The Hard Job of Managing Mobility

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InfoWorld's Matt Hamblen has written a very insightful article about something that IT managers should be worried about, if they aren't already: Wireless is evolving so quickly that IT managers are up against it when it comes to planning and managing their systems.


The challenge is that wireless is becoming more complex by the day, and is doing so in an unpredictable manner. The story offers video over wireless and voice over Wi-Fi as two examples of technologies that will have a big impact, but that aren't fully formed yet.


This paragraph, in which Hamblen quotes analyst Jack Gold, sums it up nicely:


Technologies such as video streaming, real-time collaboration, and cloud-based systems accessed from mobile devices "will all have a profound effect on corporate networks, security and management of devices and users," Gold added. "Few companies have a long-term strategic vision for mobility, let alone a strategic plan."


This is serious, since the potential problems run the gamut from inadvertently compromising security to inaccurate billing, inefficient purchasing and other potentially botched procedures. Put more simply, exploding enterprise mobility can lead to a slew of problems that threatens profits and operations and, ultimately, can deeply hurt the organization. The story suggests that a lot of the expertise to combat this will come from the educational sector, which tends to be a proving ground for many technologies, especially in the mobile arena.


Of course, mobility is the name of the game these days. The way in which it is permeating the enterprise is evident in the introduction of Microsoft Office 2010 in New York City on May 12. One of the keys, according to Switched, is that Microsoft is making the suite more mobility and Web-friendly. The related Office Mobile 2010 platform runs on the Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system and contains full versions of PowerPoint, Excel and Word.


On the surface, there is nothing particularly shocking anymore about the speed at which the enterprise is being mobilized. People conceptually understand that mobility adds myriad complexities, opportunities and vulnerabilities to a company's profile. The interesting, and somewhat intimidating, thing is thinking about this in purely practical terms.


Here are some examples of questions that need to be asked:


How will an enterprise create a system for integrating wireless devices, even before the form factors have solidified? How will IT ensure that a system is in place for the distribution of security software before the operating system merry-go-ground has even slowed, much less stopped, spinning? What system will be put in place to make sure that every iteration of every piece of hardware and software is bought for the lowest price and integrated into the mobile environment in the most efficient manner?


The bottom line is a bit of a riddle: IT departments must do extremely specific things to safeguard and drive greater value from a class of services that remain very much a moving target.