If an organisation truly wishes to succeed in today’s ultra-competitive environment, it must invest in an integrated mobility architecture that directly addresses its business needs.

That’s the view of George Kalebaila, senior research manager for telecommunications and media at IDC South Africa. To date, many South African businesses have employed a minimalistic approach to enterprise mobility, focusing more on the provision of corporate-owned smart devices and VPN connectivity to corporate resources.

This tactic has ultimately hampered the benefits and added value that organizations should be reaping, but a shift in attitude may be on the horizon. “Over the medium to long term, I expect many businesses in the country to overcome this reticence as they formalize their mobility strategies and employ a more holistic approach,” says Kalebaila.

“However, this move could still be inhibited by key areas of concern around the need to protect corporate data, manage multiple device types and operating systems, integrate with existing applications, uphold corporate network security, and work within the scope of limited IT budgets.”

Such considerations will feature prominently at IDC’s upcoming South Africa CIO Summit 2015, with the issue of security coming into particularly sharp focus given the perceived threat posed by the explosion of consumer apps that IT departments have no control over. “Data-security concerns and the difficulty of separating personal and enterprise data on smart devices are among the top priorities for South African enterprises today,” explains Kalebaila.

“Furthermore, the introduction of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies inevitably means that IT departments will be tasked with managing a range of different platforms that all require different configurations, thereby adding even more complexity to IT environments that are already far from straightforward.”

“Given these inherent challenges, it is clear that organisations need to take a holistic approach to enabling enterprise mobility, and formulate strategies that not only meet business needs but also closely align with the overarching goals of the organization,” continues Kalebaila. “They also need to formulate security policies that address the challenges posed by enterprise mobility and adopt a phased approach towards its implementation, focusing first on mobilizing the processes that are most critical to the organization and likely to deliver the greatest value. Equally as critical is the need to secure help from a trusted partner capable of successfully navigating the complex mobility ecosystem.”

There are numerous issues that organizations must bear in mind when developing a coherent enterprise mobility strategy. They must begin by assessing their true mobility needs and weighing these up against the preferences of their employees.

Security and device management requirements must also be taken into account, as should the need for any new mobile solutions to integrate seamlessly with existing applications and systems. Vendor selection is key in this regard, and special attention should be given to those providers that can offer end-to-end support across the entire mobility ecosystem.

“The benefits of rolling out a robust, secure enterprise mobility strategy are clear to see,” concludes Kalebaila. “Mobility can be a critical source of differentiation, and it most certainly facilitates the agility required to respond quickly to a rapidly changing business environment. It also increases productivity, drives the efficient use of corporate resources, and enhances employee flexibility and quality of life. And on top of all this, it allows for more informed management decisions, drives a reduction in procedural delays, and improves the effectiveness of the sales force by providing real-time access to customer information.”