It’s no secret that mobile devices and apps have become valuable corporate information and communications assets. But some industry experts envision mobility as the foundation of the digital enterprise, which will include the Internet of things (IoT), social listening, real-time data analytics and crowdsourcing.
“Mobility is now the core of IT; it’s pretty much the focus everywhere,” says Craig Mathias, a principal at Farpoint Group, an advisory firm specializing in wireless and mobile technologies and services. “Mobility is central to the human experience.
“The problem historically has been that when you’re mobile, you typically have not had access to all the information resources you need. So the objective in mobility is to bridge that historical gap between wired and wireless networks.”
The need to maintain connectivity across multiple locations has become so prevalent that it’s difficult to separate IT from the mobile world. And mobile technology will become even more important as the IoT emerges, as companies rely more on big data and analytics, and as many essential business processes depend on mobility. I can’t think of many applications [or situations] where mobility is not a factor.”
Building a Strategy
Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS), a health care provider in Hamilton, Ont., is building a strategy to enable mobile users to gain access to more information.
“Our focus for mobility was to initially provide an environment where our physicians could connect to our resources utilizing their own devices,” says Mark Farrow, vice president and CIO. “We have since opened it to all employees who need a mobile experience, but we have focused mostly on management and the physicians.”
The company now has about 4,000 registered users of its mobile access program. “Our organization took steps to ensure we had full mobile coverage within the campuses for access,” he adds.
So far, HHS has been somewhat restrictive, allowing most users to leverage mobile devices to access the Internet, including email and social media sites.
“This year, we’re going to be bolder,” Farrow says. “We’ll allow managed BYOD [bring your own device] direct access to individual applications.”
Some devices are used by health care professionals to access clinical data and electronic charts at the point of care, as well as email and other corporate resources. “We have also started to develop our own apps for areas such as incident management as a way to supplement other forms of access to information,” he says.
The company plans to inventory its systems for all mobile-friendly applications and create a corporate application store to showcase what’s available.
“From a strategy standpoint, the IT department needs to encourage this innovative market space,” Farrow says. “The current Internet-access-only model doesn’t support it. We need to work with key areas, listen to what they say and watch what they do, and together work on better workflows that inevitably incorporate mobility. It is also a reality that if you do not have mobility and some form of recognition of consumerization, then you do not have a strategy.”
In the past, HHS did not have the tools to be able to be a truly mobile business. “Now that we do, we are embracing it in the [corporate] strategy,” Farrow says. “Mobility is part of a greater picture. The market points us in a direction, and we either learn and adapt, or ignore and fade away.” Mobility is an enabler, “and the Internet of things will be the direction of travel for us and all of health care.”
The keys to building a solid mobile strategy, according to Farrow, include getting buy-in from senior management and having sufficient financial resources, a good security team and strong support for users. From a technology perspective, mobile application management and mobile device management are essential to securing devices and applications.