Moe Arnaiz, CEO of eMOBUS shared his insights with Philippe Winthrop, Founder of The Enterprise Mobility Foundation. You can read this conversation and other enterprise mobility articles at: http://theemf.org/2010/11/16/inside-looking-out-an-executive-view-on-enterprise-mobility-with-moe-arnaiz/

Welcome to the latest edition of Inside Looking Out.  This past week, I had the opportunity to chat with Moe Arnaiz, CEO of eMOBUS, an enterprise mobility management company with a focus on wireless expense management.

We covered a broad range of topics around device management, expense management and just general trends on mobility within the enterprise.  Check out some of the highlights:

The Enterprise Mobility Foundation:  Hi Moe.  Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us – and welcome to Inside Looking Out.  What’s the #1 challenge you see today within enterprise mobility?

MA: Good to be here, Philippe.  Thanks for having me.  I believe the answer to your question is mobility management, from both a carrier invoice and internal resource standpoint.  Today enterprises are realizing that they must improve the efficiency in which they manage the hard and soft costs associated with their mobility environments.  The challenge derives from the dynamic nature of mobility, where the only thing static is change.  Changing: plans, prices, devices, usage, users, operating systems and technologies.  The best way to manage this is: centralized process, clearly defined policy and internal cellular industry expertise.  In larger organizations outside help via software and/or professional services may be necessary to assist with the sometimes overwhelming challenge.

EMF: We talk a lot about policy management from both an IT and business perspective.  Is there a sweet spot for organizations? Should that mix be more business or IT centric?

MA: The “sweet spot” is when the policy molds the organizations business objectives.  It’s critical to keep things simple and practical here – for example if security is priority 1, your policy will likely be weighted toward device, OS and MDM requirements; if it’s reducing expenses, it would be geared toward acceptable usage and device cost.  IT’s role is to determine which technology solutions are available and best suited to meet the businesses objectives.

EMF: It seems like there’s a new device coming out every day, and a new platform every quarter. Companies typically don’t react that quickly.  What should companies do as they face this feverish pace?

MA: The easy answer is standardize device and OS, then enforce standardization via a formal policy.  This allows organizations to minimize the amount of resources they allocate toward supporting their end users by streamlining the support of devices and any applications that reside on them.  In many companies the growing reality is that consumer demand for the newest device is putting a lot of pressure on enterprise IT, making standardization difficult to implement.  For organizations feeling this pressure, but still needing security and control MDM tools are worth taking a serious look into.  My recommendation is evaluate carefully as this is still an evolving space…and in my opinion, the proven leader is still BlackBerry.

EMF: What’s the best reason in your mind for companies going the IL route?

MA: I’d say 1) They simply couldn’t figure out the dynamic Corporate Liable puzzle.  In an attempt, many companies switched cellular carriers or implemented poorly designed 3rdparty TEM/WEM solutions; neither of which made the pain go away…enter the white towel/IL.  2) Companies have settled on providing a very low stipend, usually under $40, which makes it cheaper to be IL than CL because employees are directly absorbing a portion of the cost.  Of course this method comes with its own accounting (processing 100-1000’s of reimbursements monthly), support (end users still like to leverage IT when their devices don’t work properly), internal issues (generally employees don’t respond well when they’re picking up a piece of the tab, this can adversely affect adoption in the long term) and control (in an IL environment the device and service is owned by the employee).

EMF: What’s the best reason in your mind for companies going the CL route?

MA: Lower total costs, more control and better visibility on your mobile device fleet.

EMF: There’s a lot of buzz these days around tablets.  Is the laptop dead?  Is our future all about mobile operating systems in various form factors?

MA: The laptop isn’t dead, but I think it’s reasonable to expect it to change over the next couple of years.  We’ll likely see hybrid laptop/tablets (e.g. laptops with a detachable screen).  As far as your question will mobile operating systems in various form factors become part of the mobile “future”, I would argue that they are part of the mobile “present”.  Look no further than the broad range we see today with consumer focused Apple iPad and Google Android tablets to the commercial grade Windows Mobile powered Motion Computing and Symbol devices.

EMF: OK, last question Moe.  With all the issues that companies are facing with mobility in the workplace today, what’s the one piece of advice you would give a CIO for the next 6-12 months?

MA: With all the hype around mobility it’s critical to make sure your mobility decisions are producing a tangible ROI for your organization.  If you can’t quantify the return, you might not need it today.

Well there you have it.  Thanks Moe, for taking the time once again to chat with me about your views on enterprise mobility.  If interested, you can connect with Moe here.