A business leader from a large health plan recently called me to discuss a BYOD (bring your own device) mobile enterprise strategy for his company. Like a growing number of healthcare executives, he recognizes that more computing is now done with mobile devices than with PCs, and that his entire workforce is already device-enabled for the mobile enterprise of the future — and will remain so.
Today, 75% of smart phone owners use and rely on mobile apps. According to research firm Frost & Sullivan, the mHealth sector is at a significant inflection point due to remarkably high smart device ownership in the healthcare workforce. I mentioned this research to my client to support his decision to get in front of the mobility curve, and we agreed the moment is right to capture this opportunity.
The scary part is how to do it. While the cost and efficiency benefits of BYOD are becoming clear, there are concerns over enterprise data security and control on employee-owned devices. Fear of the unknown is a powerful deterrent to progress, especially in regulated industries.
Fortunately — and thanks to the consumer mobile industry that blazed the trail for enterprise — there are ways to reduce risk, maintain platform compatibility and protect proprietary data that passes through non-owned devices. After gathering additional information on the company’s needs and meeting with key stakeholders, I made four initial recommendations:
Develop enterprise apps that isolate enterprise information on the device, pushing data to the cloud frequently and using event-driven caching functions that minimize device-stored data. Device-owning employees can enjoy full functionality of both employer and personal apps, and keep enterprise data separated from their devices. Our current technology can do this.
2. Build, don’t buy or rent
The development cost for custom enterprise mobility solutions is more affordable than you think, and the benefits outweigh any temporal cost savings. Compatibility is a major downstream cost factor, and a custom app typically pays for itself on this metric alone. A custom solution integrates more seamlessly with legacy platforms because it is designed to do so. Data security and control is also better because it is optimized for specific risks. And most importantly, you don’t have vendor dependence issues.
3. Use the cloud
Today, cloud-based web apps support an excellent user experience and secure data transport. Five years ago we needed native apps to reduce latency and ensure access. Now we enjoy near-ubiquitous carrier and WiFi availability, and with hash key-based encryption technology we can build mobile tools that are fast, secure and that centralize app management to a single product instead of one for each device type. And you don’t need consumer app markets to distribute them.
4. Give your employees control
Since your workforce is doing you the favor of saving you money by letting you use their smart devices to conduct business, return the favor by providing user controls that let employees decide when to logoff the company grid. Employees like knowing that with a couple of finger taps they can disconnect from the office, and the symbolic value of this is as powerful as it is practical. While Big Brother scenarios are more common in the movies than in real life, it’s something people feel and privately think about. Trust your people by letting them decide when they are connected to you and when they are not.
BYOD may be in its infancy but it’s growing fast. Smart strategic decisions now will save time, money and false starts, and allow progressive companies to quickly enjoy cost and efficiency benefits.