Late in 2012, the International Association of IT Asset Managers Inc. (IAITAM) conducted a survey focused on how mobile asset management is being incorporated into the workplace. The survey defined a mobile asset to include laptops as well as tablets and smartphones.
The survey results show that the introduction of mobile assets causes difficulties for IT managers but remains a prevalent requirement, due to employee expectations and the consumerization movement. For example:
- A whopping 96 percent of the organizations surveyed supply employees with mobile devices, and 94 percent said mobile devices are a must have for productivity
- Organizations were more likely to supply their employees with Windows-based laptops, including netBooks (75 percent), and BlackBerry phones (70 percent) than other types of mobile devices.
- Somewhat surprisingly, some organizations also offered employees iPads (16 percent), iPhones (15 percent), and Mac laptops (9 percent).
For organizations providing and supporting mobile devices in the workplace, it is imperative to ensure that the devices and the data residing on them are secure. This is commonly done with policies that define and control acceptable use at the device and user level, as well as by clarifying what constitutes professional versus personal use.
Organizations can also employ location tracking to retrieve or wipe mobile devices. In the survey, roughly one-fourth of organizations said they use location-tracking systems for mobile devices, and 56 percent said they can wipe drives remotely. To recap, 96 percent of organizations provide their employees with some form of mobile device, but if that device goes missing, only a quarter can track it remotely, and just more than half can wipe or disable it.
Loss of Service
A lost phone could open up a treasure trove of sensitive personal (or corporate) data.
The survey shows there is a large gap between the incorporation of mobile devices into an organization's IT environment and the responsible management, use, and tracking of those devices. This disparity can lead to data breaches with little or no recourse or protection. It is imperative that organizations recognize the prevalence and influence of mobile devices and treat them as important data storage devices within the enterprise.
Mobile technology has changed how work is executed; the adoption rate of new device and software types is growing exponentially. The difficulty for an IT asset management team lies in assessing the impact of each new device type on the work environment, managing the mobile devices, and implementing risk mitigation strategies. The survey shows that the ability to track and secure devices appears to be lagging significantly behind their adoption. In many cases, policies are in place but are not enforced pervasively throughout the enterprise. The challenges created by the adoption of consumerized features and function sets into the organization's operating environment are exacerbated by the lack of standards in the cloud technologies frequently used for data storage.
It is the IT asset manager's responsibility to work with the organization's management teams, end users, and IT support to build processes so that new mobile technology adds benefits and value to the organization's bottom line while maintaining control of those assets and mitigating the risks.
— Dr. Barbara Rembiesa is the driving force and conceptual architect of the International Association of IT Asset Managers Inc. ( IAITAM), the only global IT asset management-focused organization with members in more than 110 countries around the world. For more than 11 years, Barb has groomed IAITAM into a worldwide association focused on education for the ITAM practitioner and the enterprise.