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Don't Be Caught Short. You Need an Enterprise Mobility Strategy Now.

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"Phablets" continue to revolutionize communications.

According to Steve Koenig, director of industry analysis for the Consumer Electronics Association, current U.S. household penetration for smartphones stands at 55% and tablets at 44%. He and Steve Bambridge from GfK Boutique Research see the two digital devices accounting for around 40% of total consumer electronics spending in 2013.

IDC estimates that 362 million tablets were shipped during the 2012 holiday season, up from 63 million during the same period in 2011, and Forrester predicts that tablets will become the primary personal computing device in 2013 for people at home.

The good news for businesses? Global retailer Pixmania conducted research demonstrating that information workers have added two hours to each workday as they access email and corporate network functions from home. The bad news? Accommodating multiple platforms is a nuisance for corporate IT departments--or worse, if data (personal or professional) is compromised.

Clearly what every company needs is an enterprise mobility strategy to address both sides of the BYOD phenomenon.

If information workers are adding two hours to each workday, is that time well-spent? Are workers getting the access to enterprise information they need quickly? Does their mobile workflow meld seamlessly into their on-premise workflow? And what is the customer experiencing? If workers are giving clients their personal mobile number or email address because it's "more convenient," you're compromising customer integrity.

Enterprise mobility strategies must address worker requirements and should optimize the mobile benefit.  Mobile unified communications solutions that offer "remote office" functionality and integrate voice with unified messaging, text, presence and other UC features are a must. And enhanced features, like ShoreTel Mobility's "find me/ follow me,"  four-digit extension dialing, and automatic handoff from deskphone to mobile, and between cellular and wi-fi networks, will optimize the utility and cost-effectiveness of your mobile plan.

Meeting information workers' needs is paramount, but meeting CIOs' requirements for both high security and cost-effective IT support is of equal importance. As they know, the key to successful mobile device management starts with IT control.

Some IT departments have chosen to accommodate workers' adoption of mobile by mandating a single enterprise platform, a la RIM's BlackBerry in the mid-2000s. But "what became a key miscalculation for RIM was not recognizing soon enough that the enterprise business was becoming increasingly an after-effect of the consumer business," Roberta Cozza, research director of consumer devices at Gartner, told ZDNet during a recent conversation about the release of RIM's Enterprise Service 10.

In a BYOD world, interoperability is a given.  An effective mobile strategy should not only operate across mobile operating systems and devices; an effective mobile strategy should also operate across a variety of unified communications , as some enterprises function with a blend of PBX and UC providers in various locations. One solution for complete interoperability is ShoreTel Mobility, a plug and play component of the ShoreTel Unified Communications system, that can also integrate with and provide a single, unified mobile solution for other vendors' PBX and UC systems, including those from Cisco, Avaya and Microsoft.

ShoreTel Mobility secures mobile enterprise communications by leveraging proven standards for authentication and encryption with X.509 digital certificates and AES-256 encryption. The solution preserves both simplicity and maximum security by automatically recognizing when the user is outside the enterprise firewall, and launching in response an application-layer SSL VPN.

In a column for TechTarget's Search Consumerization.com, James Furbush says once organizations accept that the mobile trend is here to stay and begin to plan for it, new devices won't be a problem. But the need for an enterprise mobility strategy is now: TechTarget's Priority Survey says that 37% of IT pros will support personal tablets in 2013, up from 34% last year and 18% in 2010.

Such a strategy should determine access control and acceptable-use policies, consider mobile device management systems,  and outline security and data protection contingencies. Learn more about how your company can create a winning enterprise mobility strategy, including solution specs and platform support information for iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Symbian Nokia.

Have 30 seconds to learn about how smarter phone integration can reduce BYOD chaos? Watch this video.