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Mobility: Balancing access against management

Sheila Lam | March 22, 2012
With a mobile penetration rate of over 200 percent, Hong Kong is an active and vibrant mobile market.

"Apple's SDK is standardized, which means the apps will be more stable and consistent," he added. But given the diversity of devices in the consumer market, the bank is providing some external apps for their customers using Android devices.

At CLP, iOS was also the primary platform. But now the company must diversify among iOS, Android and Blackberry platforms, said Blumberg.

The emergence of HTML 5--which enables enterprises to build cross-platform mobile apps--provides a more device-agnostic apps development process. While speeding support for various devices and cutting costs in the development process, Smith from Wavelength Consulting said adoption relies on the app requirements.

"Depending on what you are trying to achieve," he said, "if you need performance and a rich user experience and the app needs to be available offline, HTML 5 may not be the answer."

Although it is more costly to develop apps based on a dedicated OS, Smith said that user experience and performance are generally better. The app is built for the platform, providing usability that can better leverage the device features.

BYOD with limitations

With smartphones becoming more affordable and tablets gaining popularity, more internal staff want to access corporate systems with their own devices--the BYOD phenomenon.

While BYOD can help mobile workers be more productive, it can also be a risk if not managed carefully. Compuware said 77% of its International CIO Study respondents indicated that consumerization of IT has become a business risk.

At Standard Chartered, BYOD is available with specific restrictions and the bank has so far enabled 2,000 personal iPads. According to Schofield, only the bank's corporate iPhone users can have their personal iPads enabled to access the corporate systems and apps. They are also restricted by the same rules and policies as other corporate devices when accessing internal systems and apps.

Although different policies can be put in place, augmented by device-management tools that automatically enforce them, Smith said user-education remains the last and most critical line of defense. He added that companies deploying corporate mobile devices require employees to sign documents to ensure they fully understand corporate policies. "It is key for employees to understand the responsible usage and the risk to the company," concluded Smith, "but the education factor is often missed out."

Analyst: Fair usage impact on corporate users is minimal

Corporate customers will feel minimal impact of local telcos' access prioritization on unlimited mobile plans, said IDC analyst.

CSL, SmarTone, and 3 Hong Kong announced in late February that they will continue to offer unlimited local data service plans to customers in Hong Kong, but will apply network priority management in real time to ensure fair network access. The announcements were responses to Office of Telecommunications Authority's mandatory fair usage policy (FUP) issued in November last year. It aimed to ensure users have a fair opportunity to enjoy their services and to prevent a small number of users to abuses the network.


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