Measuring ROI

By Guy Currier  |  Posted 2009-05-05 Print this article Print

Many IT organizations remain reactive when it comes to enterprise mobility strategies, leaving it up to business leaders to drive this cost-saving initiative. Baseline’s exclusive study with services firm Keane reveals the unintended consequences of this scenario.

Measuring ROI

The bottom-line benefits of going mobile are clear and obvious, especially in these cost-conscious times.

“I firmly believe that the need for mobility is exacerbated by the economic downturn,” says Figueroa. “Plus, being able to break away from the office while remaining productive is good for employees.”

Reported ROI on mobility investments in our study was extraordinary: Eighty-five percent of companies have seen savings outside of the IT budget as a result of mobile technology investments—63 percent in the short term.

These remarkable statistics seem to be driving businesses headlong into the acquisition process, often bullying the only group that’s in a position to understand the organizational infrastructure and collateral strategies needed to make mobility work with high effectiveness and low risk: information technology.

According to our study, 58 percent of firms think they’re doing a good job improving and expanding their mobile capabilities, and 62 percent are increasing business value with mobility. But 55 percent are not doing a good job at evaluating the overall costs of mobility—including the hidden costs—and a similar number are not reducing the impact of mobility on the information infrastructure or minimizing the risks of mobility.

It’s time for business and IT leaders to work together on mobility initiatives. The IT organization can evaluate the costs and risks of mobility initiatives at the start. After all, mobility is just an extension of IT’s long-standing client-support mission—if an energetic and rapidly expanding one. With IT’s close involvement, a business can develop a mobility strategy that is effective, low-risk and low-cost.

Considering the Risks

Is there any danger in IT’s lack of early involvement with mobility initiatives? When we asked respondents to evaluate the threat to information security caused by mobile technologies, only 15 percent thought the risk was low, illustrating a clear need for remediation.

While a number of security threats are being identified in these companies, the issues managers are most concerned about—employee noncompliance with policies and unauthorized access to lost or stolen devices—were not the ones addressed most often.  Even technology solutions to security issues (as opposed to personnel solutions, such as user training) were lacking. Authentication, encryption and identity management need to be tested more, according to our respondents.

“Our security organization had to get heavily involved and say, ‘Wait a minute, we’re placing information at risk and, not only that, but we don’t even know what information is at risk,’” says Mark Humphrey, security engineering architect at Boeing in Bellevue, Wash.

Meanwhile, security was identified by 39 percent of enterprises as a top challenge when deploying the newer generation of high-speed mobile technologies like UMTS, EDGE and mobile WiMax. Clearly, IT is in the best position to lead an organization into effective, low-risk adoption of mobile applications because security technologies, user training and infrastructure support for mobility are all within IT’s purview.

If enterprises don’t invest in these technologies, security threats will become actual losses for a number of them. To exacerbate the problem, a third of companies in the survey said that user training on mobile technologies is inadequate. This falls squarely in IT’s lap, but corporate and line-of-business managers and executives need to partner with the technology organization to deal with this critical issue.

Executive Director of Research for Ziff Davis Enterprise

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