Six predictions for mobile IT within financial services in 2014

6 January 2014

It’s the time of year to look ahead and future-gaze. As such I’d like to outline my six predictions for 2014 for the provision of mobile IT services by financial services firms, says Ojas Rege, vice president of strategy at MobileIron, the device management vendor.

When it comes to the future of the mobile channel and end point device in financial services (FS) you can rely on one thing and that is the fact that change is inevitable and mobility will grow and grow. As banks, insurers and other FS organisations transform into ‘mobile first’ businesses that provide customer-facing apps and service as a matter of priority the mobile channel is fast becoming the key computing platform. This approach has many benefits, but it can also create a number of problems for the internal IT department if implementation projects are not fully understood and considered - that goes for internal mobile working provision as much as it does for customer-facing services. It is this mobility angle that I intend to investigate here. Employees are increasingly using mobiles themselves and FS firms need a bring-your-own device (BYOD) IT security and privacy policy to ensure a smooth internal rollout. Those firms that haven’t done this already need to catch up in 2014.

The usage pattern and number of employees relying on the mobile channel within FS firms changed rapidly last year. This is not surprisingly as more and more smartphones were adopted by workers in their private lives and subsequently brought into work with them. The increasing popularity of mobile devices is driving an improvement in customer convenience and experience, but employees too are also getting better work experiences via remote access functionality and the rollout of smartphone and tablet-specific apps and workstation platforms compatible with their own phones, which necessarily come with a BYOD IT security policy. I expect this trend to continue in 2014 and for six key trends to come to the fore:

  1. The Mobile Minority Will Become The Mobile Majority: Mobile will go from being a technology that touches only 15% of employees in an organisation to being the platform of choice for the majority of FS workers. During 2014, more than 60% of a company’s employees will access business data on a mobile device, predicts MobileIron.  
  2. Privacy Will Be The Top Chief Information Officer (CIO) Concern for BYOD Policies: Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) IT security policies designed to protect FS firms’ internal IT infrastructure are here to stay. Traditionally the top concern for a CIO was to ensure sufficient IT security, but in 2014 this will change. The top concern will shift to privacy because of the evolving legal environment around personal data, the impetus of Edward Snowden’s revelations, and the simple fact that an acceptable approach to privacy is now essential to gain widespread user adoption. The MobileIron Trust Gap survey in June last year showed that 70% of those employees we surveyed don’t trust their employer to respect their privacy in regard to personal data. The survey results also highlighted massive confusion among employees about what data on their personal mobile devices their employer monitors. In 2014, privacy will capture CIO minds’ and become the single most important driver of BYOD success or failure in my opinion.  
  3. BYOD Will Catalyse The Rapid Migration Away From BlackBerry: For years, BlackBerry dominated the enterprise mobile phone market but its best days are now behind it as FS firms’ and others migrate towards Apple, Google or Microsoft mobile operating systems (OS). In 2014, I believe the FS sector will actively adopt BYOD policies as a means to migrate off BlackBerry. The Gartner consultancy recommended last year that companies using BlackBerry take action in the wake of its financial worries to migrate towards different platforms and the FS sector is one of the biggest segments impacted by this trend having previously rolled out BlackBerry phones extensively. Companies cannot necessarily afford to buy every employee a new replacement device, but CIOs are realising that BYOD policies enable them to migrate off the BlackBerry platform fast simply by allowing employees to deploy their own alternative personal smartphones in a work-approved manner.  
  4. Saying No to the Personal Cloud Will No Longer be an Option: Application blacklists will increasingly fail or cause unsustainable howls of protest in 2014 in my opinion. IT departments will be forced to accept that employees cannot work without access to personal cloud productivity services. More and more business documents will be stored in the personal cloud and IT will have to prioritise making consumer services secure for enterprise use.  
  5. Apple’s iOS will be Recognised as Most Secure Enterprise OS: The sandboxed architecture and management model of Apple’s iOS will make it the most secure operating system (OS) in the enterprise this year, following BlackBerry’s diminishing market share. Traditional Windows suffers from DLL Hell issues, where any app can compromise the entire system. BlackBerry was previously the pinnacle of security but users no longer want to use it. Google’s Android OS has seen big steps forward with Samsung’s Knox offering but it is still massively fragmented globally for multinational banks or other such international corporations. The Windows Phone OS on Nokia is adopting the sandboxed model of Apple but is too early in its evolution to gain widespread traction. IT departments will recognise that enterprise security is enabled by a combination of OS architecture, strong management tools, and best-of-breed user experience. This is a model that Apple’s iOS supports already.  
  6. Barack Obama and David Cameron Will Migrate Off BlackBerry: The highest profile BlackBerry users in the world will adopt a new device in 2014. The question is which one will it be? As mentioned above, I think Apple’s iOS is favourite but let’s wait and see – I bet you Angela Merkel’s mobile phone security and provision will also be closely scrutinized after Snowden’s revelations of NSA snooping.  

2014 will be an exciting year for mobile IT capacity, security and privacy provision in my opinion. Only in the last year have CIOs properly prioritised a comprehensive mobility strategy, so they are at an early stage of development and need to do much more work in this area. It is essential for FS firms to be one step ahead of staff users by better understanding the key mobile trends within the workplace and implementing a coherent mobile device management policy before they are inundated by user demand. A BYOD policy will ensure that FS firms are complying with all necessary regulations and keep their data secure, but most importantly it will enable them to give employees the great user work experience that they want and allow them to be more productive.