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11:50 AM
Matthew Calkins
Matthew Calkins
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Mobile First: Why Mobile Security Should Not Be Your Concern

Today's platform developers plan for mobile enterprise applications with the highest levels of security and access control. Soon the enterprise's issue of mobile security will become moot.

In August, a survey by Software Advice showed that only 39 percent of employees work under a “bring your own device” (BYOD) policy for mobile technology in the workplace. More surprisingly, 20% didn't even know whether there was such a policy in their organizations. That means, when it comes to enterprise mobility, employees either are making up their own rules, or just not following any.

At this point, some information security specialists are probably clutching their heads, wondering what these statistics mean for workplace data security in the mobile world. They can breathe easy. Application development technology is getting to the point where businesses simply shouldn’t have to worry about mobile security issues, and can instead focus on driving new business value from mobile channels.

BYOD policies for security and engagement are becoming a thing of the past – as long as forward-thinking companies take a device-agnostic cloud-based approach to enterprise application development.

A new concept -- the enterprise application platform -- will help revolutionize software delivery on the desktop and on mobile devices in the next few years.   An application platform enables the creation of sophisticated and modern custom applications by putting at the developer’s disposal a set of powerful construction tools that are pre-designed for mobile security.

There is so much more to the mobile business environment than instant messages and email. Consequently, more IT departments are starting to think about business value and how their enterprise applications work on mobile devices.

In most cases, the conclusion they’ve drawn is that enterprise applications are too complex to be rendered on mobile devices. A mobile front end alone is not sufficient (the thinking goes); the entire application likely must be rewritten for the mobile world. But building new applications for each device is a costly proposition.

It’s time to rethink things.

Mobile First

Business in general needs to adopt a “Mobile First” strategy (to borrow a line from the federal government’s “Cloud First” IT development strategy). When you build on an enterprise application platform, the creation process is simplified. The author designs and configures a new application at an abstract level, but writes very little code.  Once the application is complete, it can be published to any device, desktop or mobile, and run natively with the same functionality. 

Security issues are inherently addressed with an application platform provisioned through the cloud. These platforms address secure network communication and data storage, protection against malware, secure authentication and remote disablement. Network encryption, minimal data storage in the device, and passcode locking ensure that enterprise data is securely transmitted to mobile users.

Current uses of secure platforms

Some companies in the financial services arena are already making good use of this inherently secure modern application platform technology. For example, the Bank of Tennessee (BOT) has created mobile applications so that loan officers can process mortgages wherever their customers need them. This level of flexibility is usually a benefit reserved for much larger banks.

CME Group, the largest derivatives marketplace in the world, has used this approach to create new applications and to consolidate processes, while also getting the best use from mobile, cloud and social technologies. A fully functional mobile application tied to the enterprise system gives them an explicit understanding of work processes, automated workflows, and end-to-end visibility.

In other industries, the benefits are equally impressive. Consider Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), the world’s 4th largest airport. The facility covers some 27 square miles – larger than Manhattan in New York.

For years, DFW had been using paper-based processes for its back-end operations, which meant transporting hard copy forms and files back and forth across the facility.

After switching to a cloud-based enterprise application platform for development, DFW deployed 32 new applications in only nine months. (That’s nine months to build from scratch, not just to port over existing applications.) These applications cover a myriad of operational processes from Human Resources personnel management to retail outlet compliance monitoring and airport incident management.

The cloud not only gave DFW a more modern way to conduct business, it helped cut paper consumption by 50 percent. The 2,000 DFW employees now have access to enterprise data, processes, and social collaboration across the entire organization.

Design once, deploy everywhere

Of course, the mobile application development burden shouldn’t be placed on the customer alone. Instead of having to use system integrators to develop a custom application that is then redesigned to work optimally on every device, software developers and integrators need to provide a “design once, deploy everywhere” framework for enterprise applications. That way, every customized software application works equally well on every device, on every platform, with security safeguards built right in.

With growing adoption of mobile devices in business, platform developers are making data security the cornerstone of their technology. Today’s solutions allow development of fully functional mobile enterprise applications with the highest levels of security and access control.

Businesses must continue to make the shift from mobile-enabling enterprise applications to developing applications in a mobile environment that can be implemented across the enterprise. As that happens, the issue of mobile security will become moot. Indeed, it’s now getting to the point where – to the average user – it simply shouldn’t matter any more.

Matthew Calkins has been CEO & Chairman of the Board since founding Appian in 1999. He has been recognized as an Innovator and Influencer by InformationWeek; Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young; Executive of the Year (finalist) by the American Business Awards; and a top ... View Full Bio
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