APAC CIOs go mobile to achieve IT priorities

Region's IT heads see implementing mobile strategies as key for business and IT alignment and improving IT infrastructure productivity, new IDC survey shows.

SINGAPORE--CIOs in the Asia-Pacific region have identified mobile business as their primary technology deployment to achieve business or IT alignment and improve IT infrastructure productivity, according to IDC.

Tim Dillon, associate vice president of end user and mobility research at IDC Asia-Pacific, said IT and business alignment; boosting IT infrastructure productivity; and improving security make up the top three technology priorities CIOs have on their minds today. The analyst was citing findings from the research firm's CIO Innovation Survey 2011, which he unveiled during a conference on Thursday.

The online survey was conducted between Apr. 7 and Apr. 25 of this year, polling a total of 301 IT decision-makers within the region.

The regional IT chiefs also indicated in the survey that deploying mobile-focused initiatives is their primary focus in helping them meet these priorities in the next 24 months, he said. This was true for Singapore CIOs, too.

Among Singaporean IT chiefs, revenue growth and new product and service deployments were cited as the top drivers for deploying mobile initiatives, Dillon noted. Additionally, he pointed to the growing trend of consumerization of IT and increasing adoption of mobile devices within the local workforce as supporting factors.

In fact, IDC is forecasting that Singapore's year-on-year shipment growth for tablet devices between 2011 and 2012 will be 65 percent, which is ahead of the curve compared to the projected 45 percent in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan. The smartphone market, too, will witness a 21 percent growth but this is below the regional average of 35 percent, said Dillon.

That said, local IT heads are slower than their regional counterparts in planning for the integration of consumer media tablets into the corporate space, Dillon pointed out. Only about 20 percent of Singapore CIOs said in the survey that they will be or are planning to bring these tablets into their organizations, a proportion smaller than in countries including Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, South Korea, India and the Philippines.

Managing IT consumerization
Cesare Garlati, senior director of consumerization at Trend Micro, who also presented at the conference, said CIOs should "embrace", rather than reject, consumerization of IT.

He suggested companies adopt a three-step approach to bringing consumer devices into the enterprise space. First, there needs to be a strategic plan that involves conversations with all stakeholders within the organization. This way, he added, everyone will have a say in the process.

Next, the IT team can "say yes" to the types of consumer devices and applications employees want to bring into the company but "not to everyone".

"Companies need to clearly define what technology will be supported internally versus those that will be tolerated or prohibited," Garlati urged.

The third step involves the deployment of an enterprise-grade infrastructure at the backend to support the myriad devices and applications entering the corporate network, he said.

Picking up on the security and management aspects, fellow conference speaker Andrew Namboka, major accounts manager at security vendor Check Point Software, said the traditional method of implementing "patchwork, point solutions" such as firewalls and access management tools to address specific challenges as these emerge "no longer works".

Rather, security should be deployed as a business process, he noted. "We should think about the people and how they go about their daily work--what devices they use, the types of consumer applications they use, etc--and come up with a holistic security regime that takes all these into account."

An IBM executive told ZDNet Asia last week in an interview that the onus of securing mobile devices does not fall on users. Linda Betz, director of IBM IT policy and information security, said educating employees on how to ensure the security of smart devices is not enough. Instead, automating, particularly at the endpoint and policy level--as much as possible--is her preferred security strategy.