Top Five Challenges for Enterprise Mobility:
Identifying and Overcoming the Obstacles

Executive summary

Enterprise mobility is an unprecedented catalyst for the improvement of organizational processes, employee performance, customer service and many other key aspects of modern business. However, mobility also carries with it a number of innate challenges and pain points that senior decision makers must weigh against the benefits, in order to achieve ROI and maintain a positive environment for their workforce. 

This causes many difficulties for the leadership of enterprise IT departments to combat, but mobility is a necessary component of gaining advantages over competitors both as an employer, and a business, in the modern world. 

Having conducted extensive research among the practitioner community through our annual portfolio of leading global events, we have collected the five most prominent challenges which senior-level mobility and IT professionals face, when introducing these technologies into their enterprises.

This report will provide an overview of how these five consistent enterprise mobility issues arise, what impact they can potentially have on an organization, and suggestions for the most effective ways to address and overcome them.

1. Mobile device management (MDM)

It is well and truly a thing of the past to talk about aspects of enterprise mobility, such as BYOD, in the bracket of ‘trends’. With around 95% of organizations now permitting employee-owned devices for work purposes, BYOD is more of a given than a trend in the current business climate. 

Despite this development, consumer devices used in the workplace rarely come with the necessary enterprise-grade security features to allow a fully open BYOD policy. As a result, many organizations still struggle to handle this effectively, and IT departments face a range of difficulties managing the devices that are operating within their corporate networks. 

Mobility Policies put in place to secure personally-owned devices and protect business information can often cause discomfort or unrest among the workforce, as employees feel that their personal assets may be vulnerable and their privacy compromised. 

One of the most common starting points for enterprises has been to invest in a mobile device management (MDM) solution to ease this universal pain point.

When dedicated MDM solutions are implemented by an organization in an attempt to nurture a BYOD environment, this can often hinder the productivity or fluidity of the work which is being carried out on the devices. 

Additionally, due to the almost immeasurable pace at which new devices are released and introduced, operating systems are updated and applications are developed for business use, many enterprises find their MDM systems are unable to maintain sufficient security levels, or continue to serve the needs of the business. This need to continually update an MDM system is one of the most difficult problems in the market, with employee behaviour often looking outside the organization’s network for their mobile requirements.

A notable approach to overcoming these issues was touched upon in Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015, with an extract highlighting the need for enterprises to adapt: 

MDM solutions work to alleviate the security issues for organizations, to prevent the loss of corporate data and give IT more control over these end-points. However, it is now more important than ever for software companies and solution providers to deliver secure yet seamless access to company data for employees through their mobile devices, and also prevent any misuse. Once this is maintained, the systems must be comfortable with the introduction of new operating systems, apps and additional end-points.

Therefore, IT decision makers may want to begin to look beyond the mobile devices of their workforce as the way to ease these problems, and upgrade existing MDM mobility solutions as one layer of a far more comprehensive method, to secure the enterprise data that these devices are accessing. MDM will help control the powerful wave of BYOD, but security breaches are going to come from all directions, so the multitude of precautions available should be in place and able to support each other.

2. Mobile security

Concurrently, the aforementioned influx of devices causing management and security concerns within the enterprise is part of a wider spectrum of challenges related to the protection of corporate information and data.

There are, without doubt, a myriad of difficulties which arise from the ever-changing mobile landscape when attempting to instil the adequate security measures, and this area is the number one priority for many senior enterprise mobility practitioners. 

Firstly, the appropriate authentication needs to be in place within all mobile channels, with access to the corporate network controlled at the correct levels. This will also involve the management of separate user identities in certain cases. Enterprise applications must then be secured to prevent data leakage when being used on personal devices. 

Unfortunately for enterprises, employees themselves are also an enormous risk to security, especially when operating on mobile devices. Email and file sharing habits, accompanied by the use of unauthorised apps and similar hazardous behaviour will often raise concerns among IT leaders.

With all these issues to comprehend, it is then crucial to maintain the efficiency of these protected mobile channels to prevent the security measures from hindering employee productivity or satisfaction levels.

Security will remain a persistent and prominent issue in the mobile space, so organizations cannot be hesitant and wait for a miracle solution to solve the challenges for them. Unlike other aspects of mobility, security is a constant across industry, business size and use case, and it is absolutely essential for any organization to ensure the sufficient measures are taken to secure corporate data regardless of the mobile initiative. 

IT leaders should be prepared to trial security strategies and learn from their mistakes, investing the necessary resources in order to ensure they do not suffer from a severe breach or attack. 

There are many diverse and agile solutions available in the current market, many of which are now focusing heavily on applications and data, which can help solve these security issues for enterprises, with complex and meticulous capabilities. No matter what solutions are implemented, IT leaders need to consistently encourage the correct use of the highest quality mobile security tools available, throughout the entire enterprise and across all lines of business. 

To truly cover the needs of a secure mobile strategy, organizations will want to nurture a multi-layered approach that can prevent threats against their sensitive and valuable information. They should authenticate their enterprise applications, reinforce this with some form of agile device management solution, and then ensure their wider corporate networks are also equipped with measures of protection.


3. Mobile User experience

When introducing mobile technology into workflows, the main objective is developing a working environment on a mobile device that allows employees to do the same work they can do at their desk, from virtually any location at any time.

In order to maximise productivity for mobile employees, streamline the tasks which need to be carried out in this way, and drive employee productivity, enterprises will want to overcome challenges by creating a positive, beneficial user experience within the applications and systems being leveraged.

This can involve making the decision between rearchitecting existing applications for a mobile setting, or investing in developing new applications for specific use cases, as well as optimising all mobile systems within an organization to provide enhanced productivity and efficiency for the workforce.

However, the main challenge which underlines the strategic decision to mobilize within a business is to encourage and achieve user adoption of these apps, by delivering an intuitive and satisfying mobile experience. 

As long-serving Enterprise Mobility Exchange Advisory Council member and mobile evangelist Jeff Wallace has emphasised:

Without a positive user experience, mobile apps will not be used to their full potential, and if apps are not fully adopted by employees, an organization will never gain the return on their investment that they planned for. 

When stated in this way, it becomes clear just how important user experience is to the success of mobility deployments throughout an enterprise. It is all too frequent that IT departments overlook the experience their employees will encounter when working in a mobile setting, and as a result they settle for the average.

It is vital to ensure that shortcuts are never being taken in this area, otherwise employee satisfaction will not be achieved, and neither will a strong ROI.

To prevent these challenges and negative outcomes with mobile projects, the planning and development of an application must result in something that employees will genuinely want to use for their work.

This will vary depending on many factors, such as industry, job function, device form factor, frequency of use and also physical context. However, it is important to realise that based on the consumerization of IT raising the expectations of what a mobile experience should deliver, users will demand almost instant, effortless access to their professional tools and information.

Therefore, determining what kind of interface and functionalities employees need, and in many cases expect, from their mobile apps when carrying out business-related tasks is an important step, as is assessing what kind of experience will help employees do these tasks better, faster and easier. This will require research, testing and a level of creativity among the strategic leadership, where the users simply must be put first.

Once this is clear, enterprises can dedicate the necessary level of investment into ensuring that their chance of user adoption is maximised, focusing on the quality of user experience as a high priority in terms of development resources and costs. Working with the right partners to advise, build, deploy and manage effective enterprise applications is essential to overcome difficulties achieving ROI and reaping the desired rewards with mobility. 

4. Mobile applications

Balancing security with usability, to enable productivity for users within large corporate IT networks, is a challenge which naturally serves the key step of enterprise mobile strategies, which is developing and deploying mobile applications.

Organizations are tasked with finding the right tools and platforms to build the best possible apps for their business goals and the needs of their employees, in an extremely broad, competitive and fragmented market.

Within this critical process, there are many decisions which must be made that can be extremely challenging for IT leaders if they are not fully equipped with the necessary resources or expertise.

This can include deciding whether to develop apps in-house, or finding the right partners to work with when outsourcing development, imploring a BYOT approach, code-less development, HTML5, native apps, and even hybrid, custom or cloud-based apps.

These issues are compounded by cost of development, customization, testing, successful deployment, and as previously mentioned, adoption of the enterprise applications. All of these aspects will be challenging in specific ways based on the industry verticals that enterprises operate in, as well as the types of devices, operating systems and also use cases that the apps must be compatible with.

Once apps are deployed throughout the organization, it is then important that they can be properly hosted and maintained under the necessary amount of control by the IT department. Designing apps without considering their full lifecycle and the related support is a significant weakness in the opinion of David Krebs, Executive Vice President, VDC Research; another Enterprise Mobility Exchange Advisory Council mainstay. Understanding the lifecycle of apps is a crucial component of the process, and many organizations don’t think from the standpoint of how their mobile deployments will need to be upgraded, which in turn becomes a pain point down the road.

At the core of all of these issues, the question enterprises must be able to answer when devising their strategy is what functionalities and requirements they need to satisfy with their mobile apps. Once it is understood, the route to take in terms of development will appear to be clearer and more straight-forward.

Native app development is seen by many as the most beneficial approach to take for large enterprises, over a more conventional HTML5 app.

From a functionality point of view, native apps are far more feature-rich and naturally deliver a better user experience, with more controls for administrators. However, this is a longer and more expensive process and often requires a specialist set of developers to accommodate all the necessary operating systems, but does correlate more closely with successful mobile-first strategies.

There is also a significant opportunity in custom development for mobile enterprises, and that is commonly met through internal development or third-party solution providers, with more and more standardization occurring in terms of reducing the time spent on development, and the task of then integrating and deploying those apps.

Whichever option is taken in this area by organizations, it is critical to make these decisions at the beginning of the process, and understand exactly what is needed from the apps to ensure the decision is the correct one. When budgeting for both the time and costs of the development, enterprises should weigh up the pros and cons, considering all the tools available.

As long as the the security, the maintenance and the usability of the applications are built into the development strategy, the investment will be justified by the adoption among the workforce.

5. Mobile strategy

Mobile technology can no longer be ignored as a key component of how people go about their daily lives in the modern world, and every organization should be attempting to build an understanding of how to leverage it to improve their business.

Enterprise mobility should ideally be approached at the drawing board with a forward-thinking, well-educated and robust strategy that aligns with the fundamental goals of the entire business.

While this in itself is a challenge for IT leaders, they must ensure that the senior executives of the organization are fully bought-in to their mobile strategy, and that there is a positive mind-set towards the transformative nature of such technologies upheld throughout.

Beyond these core aspects of introducing mobility into an organization, the strategic vision also needs to answer the diverse range of questions presented by such a fragmented and vast marketplace which is constantly evolving.

This means deciding on the most suitable enterprise mobility policies and solutions to drive the business forward and gain competitive advantages, whilst improving the performance of employees and fostering positive change, all to justify the investment.

CIOs will typically place mobility high in their IT priorities, but mobility is no where near high enough in terms of IT budgets, which is a mistake being made by a large number of organizations. IT leaders have been talking about mobile technology in terms of strategy for some time now, but levels of investment and resulting implementations are still not driving the necessary business transformation.

To navigate these challenging processes and essentially reach the universal goals that mobile technology should be pointing towards, enterprises should seek help and guidance from experienced partners and solution providers when devising their mobile strategies, and trust the expertise at their disposal.

Firstly, a mobile strategy should not aim to look too far into the future, because change within the marketplace happens so fast, organizations need to have a dynamic strategy which focuses on present opportunities and considers scalability. 

Furthermore, failure to involve all the right stakeholders and lines of business when mapping out a strategy will hinder mobility from re-defining mission-critical workflows and processes.

The journey towards mobile-first should be evangelized early from the top down. Once this is achieved, then the strategy can be fueled and driven by the requirements and considerations of the employees that will be using the technology.

One increasingly popular method of nurturing this universal engagement throughout an organization is by establishing a Mobile Centre of Excellence, which brings together representation of all business units and maximises the use of the most relevant expertise for all aspects of enterprise mobility.

Although this is traditionally a larger enterprise initiative, it is a concept which can be useful for leveraging existing IT capabilities, helping to define standards, provide better educated decision making for vendor selection, and guide other important steps within the strategy.

This can facilitate the governance to become mobile first, saving time, money and risk for the organization.

It is then critical to understand that mobility is a conduit for business innovation, and can deliver immeasurable improvements to enterprises that implement such technologies with a sufficient strategy in place. The companies that have taken the biggest leaps towards success with mobility, and towards becoming truly mobile-first, have often been cited as those with higher tolerances for failure.

Perhaps the most important thing to be aware of when investing in mobility, and subsequently deploying complex mobile solutions throughout a business, is that it is ok to fail, but those failures must be used to learn and to move forward more successfully in future.

This will help the organization overcome any fear factor related to the decision to invest in mobility, presenting the opportunity to maximise the potential of their implementations.


Due to its highly transformative nature, enterprise mobility will always bring with it a number of challenging decisions for business leaders to make, as well as difficulties with the complexities of development and implementation.

However, there are a wealth of mobile employee app solutions and partners that can bring extensive expertise and support to organizations that are looking to take their first steps on the mobility journey, as well as those that are close to becoming truly mobile-first.

It is clear from the exploration of the five challenges featured within this report that there is a great deal of crossover between the diverse areas of enterprise mobility within an organization, which makes it even more important to ensure the approach to mobility, and the solutions that are implemented in doing so, are fully understood and leveraged correctly. There is still plenty of confusion within the market caused by the pace at which technology evolves, but this fragmented landscape is not something that enterprises should have to deal with on their own.

In order to overcome these challenges, senior decision makers should be prepared to take risks, embracing the failures which will inevitably occur as learning opportunities rather than backwards steps, and perhaps most importantly they need to be brave with their investments in the mobile productivity solutions available.

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