Mobi recently assembled its first global enterprise mobility research report. Chris Koeneman shares the results, revealing trends, security gaps and future predictions.

Much like mobile technology, the financial services industry is constantly evolving and changing to satisfy customer demands. However, the financial sector and enterprise mobility feature a few challenging similarities as well: complexity and uncertainty.

For most IT decision makers working in finance, data accuracy and visibility have become necessities for any successful mobility programme management effort. Without reliable data and reporting feedback, corporate IT teams lack the insight to make effective, informed decisions and protect employees’ mobile devices.

As difficult as it is for one organisation to maintain mobility programme data visibility, uncovering and aggregating these figures across an entire industry to keep up with competitors, industry trends and new technologies is downright impossible for most.

We recently assembled our first ever global enterprise mobility research report here at Mobi. By surveying 300 global IT leaders at multinational companies with at least 1,000 employees, our report’s findings uncovered enterprise mobility’s most surprising mobility trends, security gaps and future predictions. Here’s what we found …

What mobility looks like today

Despite the competitive advantages that successfully managed mobility programmes provide, financial institutions remain skeptical of this technology’s impact. Compared to other global industries, IT leaders at financial services companies aren’t as resolute that mobile devices and constant connectivity are as essential to daily business operations. When asked to rank how important each of these innovations is on a scale from one to 10 (where one means mobility isn’t the least bit necessary and 10 means it’s 100% essential), 82% of global decision makers responded with at least an eight – only 52% of financial services decision makers felt similarly.

A few years ago, ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) was all the rage in finance. Organisations rushed to implement BYOD in the hopes of saving money and increasing employee productivity. Since then, however, the increased prevalence of mobile security threats and a lack of meaningful financial returns have caused many IT leaders to reconsider. Today’s companies are increasingly prioritising security and end-user support over BYOD’s benefits, making these programmes the industry’s third most popular programme type behind ‘corporate owned, personally enabled’ (Cope) and ‘corporate liable’ (CL).

Even after migrating to more secure programmes, many financial services institutions still struggle to draw the line between end-user freedom and enterprise security. Despite contemporary concerns, IT leaders in this industry are less likely to restrict users’ device options than those in other verticals. While 23% of global IT decision makers limit their employees’ mobile device selection in some way, only 15% of finance industry decision makers restrict their user base’s choices.

Financial services companies also lack the confidence to identify and/or understand new mobile technologies more than the average organisation. Fewer than half of this industry’s IT leaders feel they can explain ‘telecom expense management’ (TEM) and ‘unified endpoint management’ (UEM) to mobile employees, and only 17% feel confident they can do so for the internet of things (IoT).

When it comes to maintaining a widely respected and followed mobile policy that’s been updated in the last two years, the financial services industry is second to none, however. In fact, 97% of this industry’s IT teams say that’s the case where they work – outside finance, IT leaders are more than twice as likely to believe their corporate mobile policy is outdated.

Unsurprisingly, financial services institutions are also much more effective at eliminating unnecessary programme spend than the average company. Compared to the average IT decision maker that believes at least 70% of monthly carrier bills are the result of overages, IT leaders working in finance believe their business spends somewhere between 40% and 50% instead.

Global IT teams are constantly challenged by today’s mobile technology. While financial services IT leaders agree with most other industries on enterprise mobility’s most serious challenges, the top of these professionals’ lists look a little bit different. For businesses in the financial sector, end-user support is considered a mobility programme’s number one challenge – these decision makers are almost twice as likely to consider it a major challenge as those outside of finance.

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Staying safe

Protecting devices, data and user access seems to grow more difficult by the day, whether somebody works in finance or not. However, 45% of this industry’s IT teams believe their company’s mobile security is average at best.

Furthermore, 31% of finance sector decision makers doubt their organisation is aware of every employee device that stores sensitive corporate data. That lack of organisational awareness increases the likelihood of several negative side effects, such as more human errors being made, previous device owner data not being erased before device redeployment, improperly installed (or completely uninstalled) device security software, and a lack of remote data wiping capabilities.

For IT leaders working in finance, remotely wiping data from a lost or stolen device can be a very meticulous and potentially dangerous process. That’s because, should an employee’s device go missing, IT teams aren’t fully convinced employees know what to do next. Compared to 73% of global decision makers who are very confident in their organisation’s formal reporting processes should one of these scenarios occur, only 59% of financial sector IT managers feel similarly.

Five years into the future

When considering the future of enterprise mobility, finance’s IT decision makers believe several connected devices will become everyday enterprise essentials by 2022. In addition to smartphones and laptops (the most likely technologies to be considered common business tools five years from now), tech leaders in the financial industry believe virtual assistants will be heavily relied upon as well. Compared to the next-likely scenario mentioned, IT leaders believe each employee being aided by his or her own virtual assistant is more than twice as likely to happen.

Outside of the financial sector, however, IT decision makers point to tablets, machine-to-machine (M2M) devices, and IoT as technologies that will grow more popular over that timespan instead.

Before these new-age tools can become commonplace, however, they need to be successfully adopted and implemented, which is much easier said than done. While more than half of financial services IT leaders are excited to introduce artificial intelligence (AI), this industry’s decision makers are almost three times more likely to not understand AI’s potential benefits than any other sector surveyed.

When it comes to technologies such as M2M and IoT, finance IT professionals believe the sheer number of these devices and all the work it takes to secure and manage them deters more potential adopters than anything else.

Most financial services companies – including 100% of the ones Mobi surveyed – also plan to roll out solutions such as Windows 10, Apple’s Device Enrollment Program, Apple’s Volume Purchase Program, and Microsoft EMS within the next two years. That’s because these mobility programmes anticipate streamlined operations and reduced complexity as a result of managing all devices from a single security product.

As enterprise mobility evolves to satisfy the needs of today’s financial institutions, there will undoubtedly be revolutionary technologies and trends that develop down the road. By taking the time to carefully review new mobile devices and understand modern technology trends, your company can put itself in a better position to leverage enterprise mobility and drive innovation.

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About the author

Chris Koeneman

Chris Koeneman is senior vice president at Mobi. He has extensive experience in developing go-to-market strategies for technology organisations, and has held leadership positions with AT&T, Intel and Cisco, among others, as well as innovative startups. Chris has led global teams focused on networking infrastructure, cloud services, and virtualisation solutions sold through OEMs, channel partners and direct, and has been part of two successful wireless acquisitions.

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