Unleash the full potential of shared devices with insight into the state of enterprise mobile programs

New Ponemon research on enterprise mobile programs presents data on the challenges faced by IT and IT security staff. The report underscores how many organizations aren’t getting the full benefits of their shared mobile programs, and sorely need stronger strategies and capabilities to enhance security, user experience, and productivity.

Companies introduce enterprise mobile programs to increase efficiency and productivity – or simply to keep pace in an increasingly global and digital world. At the same time, a single lost or unusable mobile device takes a heavy toll on organizations, no matter the industry.

The data presented in the Ponemon Institute report, “Unlocking the cost of chaos: The state of enterprise mobility in life- and mission-critical industries,” was gathered by surveying 1,795 IT and IT security practitioners in the United States, Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom on the state of their organization’s enterprise mobile programs. The report provides crucial insight into the challenges faced by organizations in the manufacturing, healthcare, transportation and logistics, gaming, and retail industries, shining a light on the essential mobile strategies and capabilities needed to support adoption and productivity, while protecting systems, data, and the company’s bottom line.

Mobile devices in manufacturing and retail

Some of the most compelling data in the Ponemon report came from the healthcare, manufacturing, and retail industries. For example, among those three sectors, manufacturing has the highest average replacement cost per device at $901. Lower, though not by a lot, is the retail industry’s average cost of $836 per device. (And we’ve already explored the healthcare data from the Ponemon report over here, if you’re interested.)

The state of mobile cybersecurity

There are a number of capabilities that simultaneously support mobile program security and efficiency. For example, maintaining control over who has access to which device, and when, saves resources for IT teams that would otherwise waste time trying to determine which user had a device last or who was responsible for unusual behavior flagged in an audit.

Access control also helps with security by incorporating safeguards to keep out unauthorized users – and of course, detailed audits and the ability to link mobile activity to individual users are essential for cybersecurity in any industry. However, only 46% of manufacturing respondents and 50% of retail respondents say that their enterprise mobile program enables robust access control for connected devices.

Here are more capabilities that support both security and user efficiency; specifically, how retail and manufacturing mobile programs enable organizations to:

  • Secure access to mobile devices without the use of shared pins
    • Manufacturing: 39%
    • Retail: 46%
  • Enable quick access to mobile applications without repetitive, manual authentication
    • Manufacturing: 31%
    • Retail: 39%
  • Protect data and privacy by locking down devices between every use
    • Manufacturing: 42%
    • Retail: 35%
  • Depersonalize devices after use with minimal time and effort
    • Manufacturing: 36%
    • Retail: 33%
  • Automate and trigger MDM workflows on deployed devices with USB
    • Manufacturing: 31%
    • Retail: 23%
  • Secure devices and access to sensitive and confidential data
    • Manufacturing: 27%
    • Retail: 34%

Most concerning is how many manufacturing and retail respondents said that their mobile device program does none of the above – 19% and 35%, respectively. Given the fact that 54% of total respondents reported that their organization suffered a data breach linked to unauthorized mobile device access, this underscores the danger of having an insufficient mobile strategy.

Lost devices

The cost of lost mobile devices is high, and includes both direct costs like replacing devices, and indirect costs that quickly add up if data is breached. Research shows that lost or stolen devices are frequently the starting point for hacking incidents, ransomware, and data breaches.

The Ponemon report includes some more direct costs, such as the demand for IT help desk support. Manufacturing spends the most on IT help desk support related to lost mobile devices, at an average of $162,650 per year. Retail spends significantly less, although $116,110 is still a considerable amount of money. When it comes to annual IT security support costs due to lost mobile devices, manufacturing spends an average of $684,140, and retail spends an average of $625,065.

The diminished productivity and idle time resulting from lost mobile devices also takes a toll on organizations. The average cost of diminished productivity among manufacturing respondents is $658,330 per year, while retail spends $585,200 on average.

And when it comes to the ability to protect sensitive data on lost devices, neither manufacturing, retail, nor healthcare views their programs as particularly effective. In all three industries, only 45% of respondents say their mobile program is “highly effective” at protecting data on missing devices.


All mobile device programs, no matter the industry, should include regular audits of mobile device activity. This proactive strategy allows organizations to identify suspicious or unusual user activity before it develops into a security incident. It also provides a way to compile a detailed report to prove cybersecurity due diligence for regulatory requirements or insurance coverage.

When asked to rate the degree of difficulty auditing usage information on shared devices from one (not difficult) to 10 (very difficult), 54% of respondents in manufacturing chose very difficult, as did 58% of retail respondents. The response is unfortunate – there’s no need to struggle with audits when there are powerful tools that make it simple to monitor, record, and audit user behavior.

User experience

The success of any enterprise mobile device program is directly tied to adoption and user experience. If employees find devices frustrating and difficult to use, organizations don’t see the benefits that a mobile program should provide. Unfortunately, all industries surveyed report having poor user experience when it comes to accessing mobile applications and data.

Only 41% of manufacturing respondents say that the mobile user experience provided by their organization is satisfactory. Retail does slightly better, with 45% of respondents reporting a satisfactory user experience.

Access control is cybersecurity

If you can’t maintain access control of shared mobile devices, you’re essentially leaving a door open for hackers to walk through. The Ponemon report shared that 54% of manufacturing respondents find it very difficult to maintain access controls, compared to 56% of retail respondents. However, both industries report more effectiveness when it comes to controlling access to applications and data on shared mobile devices: 42% in manufacturing, and 39% in retail.

The state of commercial enterprise mobility

The Ponemon report illuminates the uncertainty that many organizations feel when it comes to their mobile programs. Implementing enterprise mobile programs to enhance connectivity, efficiency, and productivity is a smart business move, but you won’t get the full return on your mobile investments without the necessary access, management, and control capabilities.

Thankfully, there are solutions that offer all the tools you need to enhance security and streamline workflows – tools to connect your people and unleash mobile’s full potential so that business speeds forward with no loss of control.

For a closer look at the data discussed here and more, download the Ponemon research report.