By Manish Sablok, Head of Marketing, North Europe, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise

This week's announcement from Nokia of the launch of two new smartphones using the Microsoft Windows Mobile OS — the first ever from Nokia — shows that demand for the same user-experience on smartphones as on a desktop is higher than ever. Enabling communication systems on such smartphones allows enterprises to carry business applications outside the enterprise, allowing for greater mobility for employees. And this demand for increased mobility across the enterprise is only going to increase.

Recent findings announced by Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise have found that when mobile and away from the workplace, only 31% of workers have the same ability to access information systems as when in the office. Yet with 63% of workers now using a smartphone for corporate use, the research highlights the growing popularity and need for more advanced communication technologies within the workplace.

These ‘always-on’ mobile devices have made people generally more accessible, but they have also raised expectations for more immediate access to both people and information. 76% of those surveyed believed that being able to access the Internet and email from their mobile phone could increase their productivity and engagement with others. And 78% also said they had experienced some level of frustration when they had difficulty in remotely sharing information with people or groups.

But how can IT organisations support such an influx of smart devices into the network? The research showed that the resources needed to support this access are in fact not as daunting as organisations might think — 46% of organisations surveyed didn't have to lower or relax their IT security standards at all in order to support a smartphone platform to improve effective collaboration across the entire enterprise.

And security is of course a major factor in enterprises allowing smartphones remote access to the network. Take BlackBerry, for example. Its smartphones have always been perceived as some of the most secure devices for enterprises to use, and were in fact embraced by many businesses early on in the uptake of smart devices. But the recent BlackBerry outages have made CIOs sit up and look at their security levels, and assess their disaster management strategy in order to ensure business continuity during such outages.

Add to this the fact that employees are becoming increasingly dependent on mobile devices — as the chaos caused by the recent BlackBerry outages clearly illustrated — and it's clear that secure accessibility to information when working remotely is fast-becoming an issue which organisations need to address.

This of course is only the beginning. Multiple devices, such as smartphones and tablets, and multiple channels of communication — email, voice, social media, IM, video, web conferencing and so on — are now a given across any enterprise and will drive the need for businesses to put in place a unified communication and collaboration strategy. And of course this explosion of applications and multiple devices is creating a bandwidth-hungry and intensive army of applications, controlled by users who are increasingly intolerant of latency which means that enterprises will have to start putting in place an Application Fluent Network strategy.

But with a significant proportion of IT departments saying that they don't need to lower their security standards when integrating smart devices into the network, it is clearly becoming possible for enterprises to enable employees to access information when away from the office, whether from home, whilst on a site visit or when travelling, with exactly the same ease and quality as if they were sitting at their desk. This means that enterprises can ensure application portability in order to maintain productivity levels among employees, wherever they may be working.

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