Mobile Email Evolution: The Security Mandate

As business users become increasingly mobile, how does IT maintain control over corporate email to prevent data loss?

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No matter how many new communication channels have entered the workplace over the past several years – from instant messaging to text messaging – email has persisted as the killer app in many enterprises.

What’s changing is how important mobile support for the ubiquitous email platform has become to the business user. According to research conducted by Nottingham Trent University,people check their phones an average of 85 times a day. For business users, much of this activity centers on email. That’s why organizations need to find ways to accommodate the rising demands of their workforce for more mobile-friendly email solutions – or risk having users embrace third-party options that fail to meet enterprise requirements. Corporate users of traditional email solutions like Outlook want to retain the business features they use every day that are not available in default device mail clients. Increasingly they also want to separate personal data from business to keep privacy protected.

IT needs to recognize that business users are pretty set in their ways when it comes to how they prefer to deal with incoming messages. Whether a user likes to “pile, file, or purge,” today’s mobile email management platform needs to not only accommodate users’ work styles, but ultimately facilitate their desire for a fully customizable experience.

For example, those who prefer to purge should be able to quickly swipe to eliminate or archive emails in bulk. Likewise, if a user prefers to file everything in its proper place, the app should have built-in intelligence to make existing folder recommendations based on message contents as well as sender recognition.

Business users are also looking for their email app to serve as a productivity facilitator – not a time sink. This means a mobile email app needs to seamlessly integrate mail, calendar, and contact information. In addition, productivity-enhancing features such as predictive message move, inline email editing, smart foldering, configurable swipe gestures, Caller ID, and send availability all appeal to the next-generation business user.

Putting these features in context, users expect the ability to quickly accomplish email-related tasks on the go, such as setting up business meetings with multiple people without having to open an additional calendar app. Or quickly checking availability for a meeting invite. The same is true for dealing with a user’s multiple email addresses. No one wants flipping between personal and business email to be a complicated process.

Of course, all of these customization expectations combined are only half of the equation. Security is crucial considering that IT needs to maintain control over corporate email and the various attachments to prevent data loss. For example, IT needs the ability to encrypt all email attachments and whitelist or blacklist “open-in” apps to protect and secure business data from being moved into personal apps and out of IT control. In addition, IT needs to be able to trigger automatic, manual, online or offline compliance actions to block or wipe enterprise data based on detected device security and compliance issues.

Bottom line: While user expectations are high, IT expectations should be equally stringent. As more email activities move to mobile environments, security cannot be an afterthought. Instead, it needs to serve as the foundation.

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