Mobilizing Business Data: The Holy Grail of Enterprise Mobility
Enabling mobile-first security & data distribution models that efficiently integrate line-of-business systems & mobile consumers
By: Jesus Rodriguez
Oct. 29, 2013 02:00 PM
The last few years have seen an explosion in the demand for enterprise mobile solutions. This movement has been clearly reflected in the rapid evolution of the enterprise mobile platform ecosystems. From mobile device management (MDM) to enterprise mobile middleware technologies, the industry has produced a large number of technology platforms aiming to address the different needs of the mobile enterprise. Despite of the rapid growth of the enterprise mobile space, the industry remains without good solutions for addressing what, arguably, can be seen as the most important challenge of the current generation of enterprise mobile solutions: mobilizing business data.
The reasoning behind my argument is very simple. The current generation of enterprise mobile apps is, by and large, focused on creating mobile representations of existing enterprise business processes. The majority of these business processes are tied to on-premise or SaaS line of business systems. While mobilizing some of those business processes can be seen as trivial, the introduction of mobile consumers introduces a number of risks from an enterprise perspective on such diverse areas as data privacy, performance or security.
We Are Great at Sharing Files but Are Bad at Sharing Data
Despite the importance of file sharing, it is important to realize that it's only a small element of enterprise mobile data. A large percentage of enterprise mobile apps are required to access business data from on-premise or SaaS-based systems using mechanisms that can be abstracted via files or documents. Sadly, as an industry, the enterprise mobile technology ecosystem hasn't produced the equivalent of enterprise file sharing technologies but for business data.
MDM Is Not a Solution
Mobile Business Data Needs New Security and Privacy Models
These security risks get exponentially more complex when we factor in access to corporate data from mobile applications. In order to address these challenges, organizations should embrace mobile-first security techniques such as multi-factor authentication, mobile data encryption or contextual threat analysis that are designed with mobile applications as a first class citizen.
Accessing Mobile Business Data in Real Time
To enable real-time access to business data from mobile applications, enterprises should provide mobile-optimized interfaces to broker the communication between mobile apps and corporate systems. By mobile optimized, we refer to capabilities such as support for multi-factor authentication, friendly to concurrency, contextually aware, message throttling, support for offline communication models among other essential elements of enterprise mobile solutions.
Storing Transient Business Data in Device
In order to enable "data in device" scenarios, enterprise mobile solutions should provide the mechanisms to secure the target business data in a form that can only be consumed in the context of a specific user session within a specific application. In addition, this type of pattern is typically recommended to rapidly changing not overly sensitive data that can become irrelevant after a certain period of time.
Distributing Mobile Business Events
To address those scenarios, organizations need to establish the infrastructure for mobile applications to securely subscribe to events that can be published from line-of-business systems. These types of patterns will ease the burden of optimizing traditional corporate systems to support direct access from a large number of mobile consumers.
Caching Mobile Business Data
Even though the business data caching can introduce additional back-end infrastructure, it minimizes the impact on traditional corporate systems from both the development and operational standpoint
Business Data is Not Mobile: We Need Context
Extending traditional business data living in corporate systems with contextual elements will not only maximize the efficiency and richness of enterprise mobile applications that need to consume those business data sets, but will automatically mitigate some of the security and privacy risks mentioned in previous sections. While the effort of contextualizing business data might seem daunting at first glance, it can be a great enabler for brand new mobile-first business capabilities
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