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Those demanding mobile users

Please IT, can we have some more?

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Workshop For years, when we asked Reg readers what worried them about mobile, "security" was top of the list. Now business mobility has become a victim of its own success in many organisations, at least when looked at from IT's point of view. The problems of managing user expectations, integrating kit or compliance are familiar if you work in IT.

Security has dropped to fourth in your list of concerns in our latest Reg reader study on mobile technology adoption - though it is still rightly high in the rankings, given the push by governments to tighten data protection and security through regulation.

The four biggest worries are all a function of more pervasive and mature use. As adoption has escalated, and business users have gained experience, they want to do more than simply keep up with their email. Senior managers, sales staff, and other field personnel want a greater range of applications and services. This adds to the development and integration load on IT.

The problem is that many users often fail to appreciate that what they perceive as a simple requirement involves complex work. This is human nature, but everyone gets frustrated when IT says "No", or at least tries to slow things down while the practical, resourcing and cost implications are properly worked through. This is the root of your expectation and business change management problems.

More devices means more device management problems. Policy enforcement means security, privacy and compliance problems turn up again in a different guise. Then there are the practicalities of software distribution, distributed data management, hardware maintenance and so on. The more devices, the bigger the problem.

Then there is security: more of us than would care to admit have left our laptop on the train, or mobile phone on top of the car. We thank our lucky stars that it wasn’t high profile enough or poorly secured enough to make the headlines.

Fortunately technology has progressed. IT professionals have wised up to the nature of the problem. We understand mobile security better, even though we don't always do a comprehensive job of it.

It is more surprising that compliance and privacy are further down the list. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) in the UK is reviewing the need for the UK financial sector to record mobile phone calls and texts made from business devices by employees of regulated companies to improve governance and to bring them under the same rules as fixed-line communications. Regulation will probably follow. Mobile operators are already helping companies deal with this, because other countries and other sectors will follow.

While many regarded mobile technology as "separate" from mainstream IT, the more it has become part of our lives, the more it simply looks like another set of technologies that needs to be embraced and managed as part of the overall IT and operational plan.

If mobile solutions are not integrated into existing IT processes, management systems and policies, then the disjoints will - at best - mean you duplicate effort and unnecessary costs in many areas. If you don't coordinate policies, it creates risk.

We want to know how you handle users who want everything yesterday, or how you integrate mobile with existing IT processes. If you've succeeded or failed, tell us what you learned. ®

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