The changing role of IT in the evolving mobile workforce

by Pat Lee

March 26 2012

Pat Lee is the director of end user clients at VMware


The rapid, widespread adoption of smartphones and tablets has undoubtedly changed the way we work today.

A recent US Employees Survey showed that 97% of people carry more than two mobile devices. And, according to a 2011 Gartner report, 300 million tablets are projected to ship in 2015, a market that didn’t even exist two years ago.

Thanks to this new market of mobile devices, we work wherever we happen to be at the moment—at any time of day or night, an airport, a conference room, or on our couches.

At first, it was simply email access through a browser, but now we have been conditioned to demand more access to company data and apps to better meet our productivity needs.

We don’t want this delivered in a clunky, complicated way; we want this access to look and feel like the rest of our consumer app experiences—easy to use, reliable, and always available.

IT in turn has had to quickly adapt to this explosive pace of mobile and tablet adoption, looking for ways to bridge the gap between consumer devices and enterprise requirements. But allowing employees to use the devices they want, and give them access to apps and data in a secure, reliable way presents IT with both an access problem, and security concerns.

Policy, access, affordability

As a result, IT is working diligently to update company policy to better address how executives and users want to work or are already working thanks to easy accessibility afforded by phones and tablets.

Executives and managers also began to see that mobile access to email, company data and apps allowed employees to be more productive.

This anytime, anywhere access was giving employees the ability to get things done faster, including: closing a sales deal via tablet while in a customer meeting; or approving workflows from their smartphone instead of waiting to get back to their desk.

So while anywhere access raised security concerns, the benefits to productivity within the enterprise are outweighing the obstacles and the business is pushing IT to advance more rapidly than ever before.

The benefits of a mobile, productive enterprise workforce are clear, and the need for application compatibility has risen as the next critical issue for IT to tackle around tablet use in the enterprise.

SaaS and mobile (iOS and Android) apps focusing on enterprise enablement is growing quickly, but most businesses still rely on old-world legacy Windows apps for key business needs.

A key enabler for continued tablet adoption in the enterprise is to remove the barriers and provide easy, secure access to all key business applications whether they are SaaS, mobile, or Windows apps.

Solutions that provide simple and secure access to important Windows applications will make it easier to go mobile.

No matter the obstacles, the tablet continues to push its way into the enterprise, and IT will need to continue to innovate and deliver to meet an evolving mobile workforce.

Pat Lee is the director of end user clients at VMware

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