Are your smartphones out of control? Here are four ways to manage the sprawl

Strict limits on the mobile devices and apps that staff can use will just misfire...

The way most CIOs manage smartphones and other mobile devices is to keep their users on a short lead, but that approach will simply no longer be viable as technology and the nature of work itself change, says Gartner's Nick Jones.

Until recently, organisations have managed mobile devices by strictly controlling the products and applications that staff can use. These traditional mobile strategies are designed to support well-defined requirements, with devices, applications and services provided and managed by IT professionals.

With this approach, organisations are used to measuring success through service-level metrics, business process performance and cost. Businesses ensure control and security by adopting a narrow range of strictly-managed smartphone platforms.

Although some organisations will persist with this type of approach, analyst firm Gartner believes most will adopt new methods of managing corporate mobility by 2015 because of fundamental changes in user requirements, technology and the nature of work itself.

Less structured communication
People are finding many new roles for mobile devices and services in less formal and less structured communication and collaboration, in addition to traditional well-defined structured processes. In the future, users will request an ever-wider choice of devices and platforms driven by fashion and personal preference.

Corporate IT will be driven by consumer preferences

Corporate IT will be driven by consumer preferences
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

At the same time, employees are becoming more autonomous and sophisticated, and better able to support themselves.

Consumerisation, app stores and mobile ecosystems are part of a proliferation of new applications and services that young employees entering the organisation will expect to be allowed to use.

Perhaps more importantly, the definition of work is evolving. In advanced organisations, some staff are becoming more autonomous, defining their own working practices and selecting what they see as the most appropriate technology.

Gartner predicts that by 2013, more than 80 per cent of handsets sold in mature markets will be smartphones. Most personal handsets will be able to support undemanding requirements, such as mobile email and web access, so it makes less sense for the organisation to provide a device.

Commoditised and mature
As these devices and services become commoditised and mature, they become easier to source and support externally. Some organisations may decide that providing and owning devices may be unattractive and expensive as new sourcing options emerge, such as cloud mobile device management services.

As a result of these many changes, we see four leading styles of mobile management emerging...