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The Three Pillars of Mobile Digital Transformation

By Phil Hochmuth, Program Director, Enterprise Mobility, IDC

As organizations worldwide rush to digitally transform themselves—using technology to solve problems in new and innovative ways—a cornerstone of this transformation is mobility. IDC has identified Android as a strategic platform for enterprises to digitally transform their corporate workforces, key operational functions and tasks, as well as core business models, with pervasive mobile technology.

The reason IDC considers the Android operating environment a strategic platform is because it successfully addresses three key pillars of mobile technology adoption:

  1. Underlying security
  2. Solution breadth
  3. IT and User Experience

First, security. According to IDC’s 2017 Enterprise Mobile Decision-Maker Survey, nearly 40% of the IT professionals surveyed say security is the top challenge to mobility in general, ahead of issues such as the complexity of mobile technology or cost. And with more than 70% of businesses deploying at least two mission-critical applications on mobile devices, there’s a lot at stake to get mobile security right.

The historical perception of Android has been that security is its Achilles’ heel. However, according to IDC’s 2017 Enterprise Mobile Decision-Maker Survey, there’s no correlation between device OS types and frequency of mobile security incidents. When examining the top four mobile-related breaches enterprises say they experienced, the numbers don’t shift significantly between enterprises where Android is the dominant mobile platform, and iOS shops, where Apple devices rule.

Moreover, Google’s efforts in enterprise mobile security has been a three-pronged strategy:

  1. Preventing Potentially Harmful Applications (PHA) from being approved on Google Play or being installed/run on Android devices thanks to Google Play Protect, which is the most widely deployed mobile threat protection service in the world.
  2. Constantly improving the defense-in-depth layered security approach with Android. It all starts with hardware-backed security that provides verified boot, PIN/password protection, and file-based encryption. Then moves up the stack to the linux kernel with SELinux for mandatory access control, application sandboxing, and permission groups. Finally, multiple anti-exploitation methodologies are implemented to ensure that a bug does not turn into an exploit or vulnerability.
  3. Improving the ability to update devices with seamless updates starting with Nougat and Project Treble in Oreo. In addition, the launch of the Android Enterprise Recommended program validates that devices should be current and up-to-date with regular security patches.

The second pillar, solution breadth, is defined as offering a diverse range of mobile device types and apps that address the varying use cases of enterprise digital transformation with mobility. New business processes and opportunities are creating demand for different mobile device types beyond traditional smartphones and tablets. There is an increasing appetite among enterprises worldwide for a range of devices, from purpose-built rugged to dedicated devices that can handle multiple applications. The flexibility of the Android platform and adaptability provided by the diverse Android ecosystem presents enterprises worldwide with a broad range of device manufacturers and partners to choose from.

For example, deployments of dedicated devices are on the rise. Nearly two-thirds of enterprises have dedicated devices already distributed, according to IDC data. Android is the growth engine of this market, with shipments of Android ruggedized devices forecasted to grow at 23% over the next 5 years — five times the rate of the rugged market overall.

The third pillar, IT and User Experience, completes the foundation of support for successful digital transformation. After all, transformation cannot happen if a mobile platform is not widely accepted by users—and successfully managed by enterprises. In IDC surveys, user resistance is the most-cited reason why mobile devices aren’t enrolled in enterprise mobility management systems.

Enterprises must strike a balance between strong, secure device management policy and user acceptance. To address this issue, Android provides strong separation of personal and work data. The work profile means that IT can manage business data while employees keep their personal apps and other data private. This enables employees to use BYOD at work in a secure and flexible way.

Lastly, the Android Enterprise Recommended program, a Google-led global initiative, establishes best practices and common requirements for consistent deployment, management, and user features to ensure Android devices are easy to deploy, scale, and support. As part of this program, Android zero-touch enrollment allows smartphones and tablets to be automatically provisioned out-of-the-box by enterprise IT teams. No physical contact with the devices is necessary.

For a closer look at how the Android platform fulfills the requirements of all three pillars, we invite you to download the IDC whitepaper, “Android for Enterprise Digital Transformation Opportunity,” sponsored by Google. This is an overview in a series of blogs that will discuss each pillar in more detail.