David Abbou

Right now, many CIOs are holed up in a boardroom with their IT team to discuss their enterprise mobility plan and where investment needs to be allocated in order to thrive in the mobile era. This complex undertaking requires considering many of the components that make mobility go safely and effectively. But which area is leading the pack in terms of investment? A recent Enterprise Mobility Exchange survey of almost 300 senior-level enterprise IT and mobility professionals revealed that mobile applications were far and away the top investment priority for enterprise mobile solutions. In fact, respondents selecting mobile applications nearly doubled the next two areas, MDM and mobile security.

The main reason for this can be found in the respondents’ answers. 67.9% of the respondents mentioned that increased productivity was one of, if not the main driver sought after by their organization. Increasing productivity then, is the undisputed heavyweight champion of mobile technology goals. It’s worthwhile then for professionals of all levels to remember that through all of the technical, operational and implementation planning, the success or failure any enterprise mobility plan lives and dies with this metric. The end product must be mobile apps that illicit participation, improve workflow and efficiency, and ultimately produce results for the organization at a higher clip.

So what, or more accurately who is at the heart of this ambitious goal? Behind the mobile technology being developed are the most important stakeholders you should be thinking about when deciding how to deploy mobile applications: your employees.

The needs of your workforce much like technology has evolved drastically and continues to do so. Therefore it’s vital to engage them and have a clear grasp of what functions and tasks they most need to perform when away from the office, what information they need to access, and which apps they demand the most and rate the highest. Getting this kind of accurate feedback can only be accomplished if the right communication channels are planned and embedded within your BYOD policy. This will allow you to drill down to the end users and identify what their mobility needs are: what tasks and functions they most require and which apps they have found most efficient and effective.

This type of feedback needs to be at the core of your enterprise mobility planning. It is after all, market research. You’re effectively providing a product to your most important customers – your employees – and cliches aside, the customer is always right.

App design specifically has been an under-invested area for enterprise development teams in the past, but this area will become much more important as mobile apps for enterprise mature. Employees will not use enterprise apps any more than they have to if they are not user-friendly and comfortable, and deliver the same experience they expect from their favorite consumer apps. You want to provide users with a platform that makes it easy and dare I say it, even fun to use mobile applications for work. This is why a native mobile experience that delivers a consistent experience regardless of which device or OS is being used is an investment that will pay off major dividends in the future.

At Nubo, our teams of UX designers and developers have synergized to create a native mobile experience that translates consistently on all Android and iOS devices as well as HTML browsers. This allows organizations not only to develop custom enterprise apps, but to choose from over 1.5 million Android apps. It also provides utmost freedom and flexibility when planning your mobile app offerings as part of your BYOD planning. More importantly, it lets your organization give your employees the tools they need to get the job done.

Always remember the human element and make sure your processes are in touch with your users’ needs and preferences – They are the ones who must respond, buy-in and participate for your enterprise to reap the ultimate benefits.

David Abbou

Big Data and the value it can produce has taken it from emerging technology to an established frontier for most large enterprises. In fact, organizations who don’t invest in Big Data will be a stark minority, and most are treating it as a priority.The ability to extract valuable insights to inform business decision-making, design more efficient processes, personalize sales and marketing strategies, and produce more customer-centric products and services is critical for organizations to keep up with and predict evolving consumer demands and gain a competitive edge. But getting the full benefits out of Big Data in the mobile era also means organizations need to marry this technology with another trend that has fast become a workplace reality, BYOD. Executives and industry professionals need and demand access to customized real-time reports that give them the insight necessary to make informed business decisions.

Just how organizations integrate Big Data with mobile apps is literally and figuratively one of the biggest trends to watch for in the coming year. So then why are many corporations dipping their toes in the water rather than diving in? As goes the expression “the bigger they are, the harder they fall”, the risks and potential consequences of failing to effectively secure Big Data on mobile devices can be devastating to an organization’s reputation and carry massive legal repercussions to boot.

The concept of Big Data mobile apps is not that new, but the sheer enormity of risk makes it one of today’s most significant IT challenges. Taking Big Data mobile poses heavyweight risks for different industries. In healthcare, personally identifiable information can be obtained from lost/stolen or hacked devices, violating patient privacy. Privacy issues also extend in different ways to financial institutions and much of the private sector. For defense agencies, the stakes really could not be higher, with cybersecurity criminals and state-sponsored hackers attempting to breach classified national defense information daily.

Custom reports, dashboards and other reporting tools leave a digital footprint on the device. These reports contain robust data that is also rich in memory. With more sensitive information moving between endpoints and networks, the opportunities for hackers to break through security increase as a result. More disturbingly, authentication credentials can be hacked and used to gain access to your company’s network resources.

Simply put, organizations can’t afford leaking this level of information. The damages resulting from a major breach could very well match or exceed the benefits. Therefore many businesses which are working on integrating Big Data with mobile are too gunshy to move forward until they find a strategy that allows them to address these issues with a much greater degree of confidence.

But time is also money, and the challenge of securing Big Data mobile apps can’t scare organisations off from using it. Instead, it can act as a motivator to look at mobile security in a more innovative way. It’s becoming clear that the endpoint security approaches to date have not been sufficient enough to inspire confidence that the data is secure and out of harm’s way. A common element all of these solutions share is where the data is stored.

Location, location, location!

Imagine that a major bank kept all of it’s currencies on-site, and protected all this cash with a heavy police presence and surveillance all around it. Would that be a foolproof method to prevent ambitious criminals from trying to pull off a major heist? Maybe for most criminals, but the motivation to rob such a bank would be extremely high. There’s no guarantee that the bank could not be robbed, and the resources needed to provide the requisite amount of security would be exorbitant.That’s why the money isn’t kept on site, but at a remote location that is much more secure.

Now imagine an organization’s valuable Business Intelligence tools and the value this holds in the eyes of the cyber criminal. Do you endlessly devote one security patch after another in the hopes that hackers won’t find a way to break encryption on mobile devices, which are known to be the weakest link in security?

The most valuable data should be kept where it’s safest. This is why storing data on a secured remote server will be the way to protect Big Data going forward. For Big Data tools such as dashboards, visualizations and query tools accessed online, Virtual Mobile Infrastructure (VMI) provides an ideal solution, in that all of the data can be kept on the server while being displayed onto smartphones and tablets as a flat image that cannot be manipulated.

This approach can also provide organizations with the platform for important security solutions that will aid efficient access to Big Data, such as single sign-on processes, allowing professionals to access the information they need within several apps without being delayed by multiple authentication requirements.

As we enter the age where the quality and quantity data, and the stakes keep rising from a security perspective, expect more enterprises to move their prized assets away from the danger zone and to a centralized, secured environment.

David Abbou

Enterprise mobility and BYOD culture can be seen as both the future for business communications as well as one of its most complex change management challenges.

But as daunting as it may seem to effectively implement a secure BYOD policy in the private sector, those trials pale in comparison to the healthcare sector, where mobile security risks can quite literally be a matter of life and death.

In an industry which requires using more equipment and devices than most, the convergence of smart technology, automation and sensitive patient and medical data can be viewed as the perfect storm for BYOD security failures. You’d be hard-pressed to find a sector where the challenges and the stakes are at such a peak. Data breaches and medical device malfunctions span the compliance and liability spectrum, carrying with the, significant financial and legal repercussions.

If there’s an industry to watch in 2015 and see just how it can progress in overcoming mobile security hurdles this is the one. In the coming years, will it become a model for best practices in terms of security infrastructure planning? Or will it constantly supply the greater IT community with one worst-case scenario after the next?

Finding sustainable solutions requires understanding the industry’s largest concerns and from where they originate.

A mobile workforce equals more devices at risk

Doctors and other healthcare practitioners embody the word mobile like no other. A massive part of the healthcare workforce, be it full-time, part-time or contract staff, are constantly moving from one medical facility to another, and they are expected to deliver analyses, diagnoses and treatment plans in a relatively expeditious manner. Therefore, they’re perpetually accessing medical and patient data while on-the-go. And expectedly, this leads to many lost and stolen devices. Cloud security broker Bitglass published a Healthcare breach report in 2014 that revealed lost and stolen devices lead to 68 per cent of all data breaches in the industry since 2010. Too many of these devices are not even sufficiently protected by basic passcodes and other security settings that users can apply. It’s clear that healthcare providers need to devote more resources not only to security, but to educating practitioners and instilling a sense of urgency to protect PHI (Personal Health Information) on their devices. Electronic health records are worth 50 times the black market value of a credit card because medical and patient demographic data can’t be cancelled and remains valuable to thieves well after their theft is reported. Data breaches violating HIPAA legislation will run the provider a $50,000 fine the first time. The next time an identical violation occurs, the fine can be as high as $1.5 million. This doesn’t include lawsuits which can be even more lucrative. The need for a robust communications program to educate all applicable staff on why they must be mindful of these risks and how to employ security measures on their personal phones should not only be mandatory, it should require follow up sessions to verify that staff are applying these practices.

So many sign-ons, so little time

Imagine having to log in repeatedly to several different electronic medical databases, applications from several different PCs and devices all in the same day. Now imagine that each log in process for each client can take up to seven minutes just to complete. That should give you an idea how excruciatingly complex a practitioner’s workday can be, and how this also slows down their ability to service patients, resulting in stress and dissatisfaction for everyone involved. Lack of IT standardization to date means that each medical facility is usually using a different application to record and store patient data. This presents a unique integration challenge. But implementing a single-sign on system is fast becoming another necessary investment for the industry as its reliance on IT and mobility increases. Moreover, vertical solutions that are tailored to the unique data management and security needs faced by healthcare will be ever-present going forward. The key for organizations will be learning how to evaluate all of these offerings and accurately assess how they solve not just one set of problems but the bigger picture which encompasses both service delivery and data security.

Unique problems require unique solutions

While many corporations have turned to Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions in recent years, the fragmented nature of the healthcare continuum severely undermines the workability of such systems. That’s because doctors working for multiple providers would need to give control of all of their applications and data to one organization. The reality of so many personally-owned devices accessing multiple applications means that healthcare organizations should prioritize data security, not device security. Virtualized solutions have emerged which manage all apps and data on a secured cloud or on-premise server. Not allowing any medical data to be stored on staff devices in the first place addresses not just lost or stolen devices. It also removes the weakest link – or easiest target – for hackers and other security threats to exploit.