35pc of businesses don’t have a mobility strategy

29 May 2008

Some 35pc of businesses in Europe that deploy devices like notebook PCs and BlackBerry email clients across their workforce do not have a strategy for securing and renewing these devices, an expert said yesterday.

Uwe Romppel, senior director of business development in charge of mobility at Fujitsu Siemens, told siliconrepublic.com that while European businesses view mobility positively, their grasp on renewing aging devices, buying from set manufacturers and fundamentally securing the devices from laptop theft or information leakage was poor.

Romppel was in Dublin yesterday to speak at his company’s IT Future Conference in UCD Belfield.

According to a survey of 1,300 firms, 65pc of businesses pursue a strategy, in particular around allocation guidelines and security, up from 42pc in 2005.

Across most European countries, notebook computers now represent 34pc of companies’ PC fleets, up from 29pc in 2005.

Notebooks are most frequently used by management (85pc) and field forces departments (75pc).

In terms of renewal cycles, 44pc of the firms renew their notebooks within three years, and 43pc ‘whenever needed’.

In terms of buying choices, green IT matters to 72pc of purchasers, with the relevance of design mattering to 55pc.

Security issues are seen by all as the biggest challenge of notebooks, with data loss the top concern.

“Firms can raise the bar in terms of the security methods they deploy, but you will never avoid the theft of these devices. The only way forward is to ensure that the data on the devices is at least secure.

“Straightforward methods such as laser-etching inventory numbers can help prevent the devices being sold, but further steps need to be taken. We are issuing smart cards that can only open a computer that has been locked down. As well as this, fingerprint technology has improved to be more sensitive and accurate.

“Encrypted hard disks by software, or even better actual hardware encryption on the drive itself, are also vitally important. Hardware encryption uses less processor power and only affects 3pc of the performance of a typical hard drive,” Romppel said.

Romppell added that his company is working with mobile operators that subsidise new laptop sales to ensure not only that stolen devices can be tracked and locked down but to that mobile broadband subscribers are paying their bills.

“We’re working on a unique technology that will be available in the next quarter where a telecoms operator can shut down a mobile device like a laptop over a UMTS 3G network and that can be reopened once a customer pays a bill.

“Laptop computers are being heavily subsidised by operators that need to make a return on investment by ensuring you fulfill your contract terms,” he said.

By John Kennedy