Employee Mobile Enablement: Bank Mobility’s Third Wave

With most employees owning smartphones and tablets, there is an increasing ability to increase productivity, improve sales, reduce costs, provide mobility and enhance both customer and employee satisfaction by allowing employees to access work-related information on personal mobile devices. While not yet common place in banking, the concept of 'bring your own device' (BYOD) is gaining steam.

If mobile banking’s first wave was widespread consumer adoption (well underway) and its second wave was high-value transactions (gaining momentum), then the third wave is allowing employees at financial institutions access via mobile devices, aka ’employee mobile enablement.’

“Benefits of EME include increased productivity, improved sales, reduced costs, increased employee satisfaction and an improved customer experience.” — Forrester Research

The progress of this third wave can be characterized as ‘proceeding, but with excessive caution.’ It seems that at many banks and credit unions, yesterday’s security concerns prevent employees from efficiently and cost-effectively carrying out business on their smartphones and tablets, even though this mobile access could enable them to meet customers’ and members’ needs anywhere … anytime.

Certainly, security should remain a top concern as cybersecurity threats are growing in number, severity, and sophistication. Financial institutions are a favorite target, and must comply with stringent regulations and laws to protect customer information, funds, and their own reputations. So it’s little wonder that cautious remains the operative mode for expanded employee mobile enablement (EME).

When caution is misplaced or excessive, however, banks and credit unions miss out on opportunities where other industries are already cashing in. They forego sizable cost savings, employee efficiencies, customer convenience, great data, and sounder governance. That’s a lot to sacrifice on the altar of lingering worries about yesterday’s security concerns.

Today there are two perspectives that call yesterday’s cautions into question. The first is the success other industries have seen with EME. The second is a refresh on the solid security advances that have made EME possible and safe.

EME Thrives in Other Industries

Take healthcare and life sciences, where EME is rapidly taking root. Medical device and pharmaceutical companies are enabling sales people to use their mobile phones and tablets to show online demos, access the latest price lists, take orders, monitor shipments and many other activities. This increased efficiency allows employees to outperform competitors who have to suffer delays, use cumbersome processes, or rely on outdated information.

Manufacturing is also at the forefront of EME adoption. Employees can monitor inventories in the field, pay for orders, and track shipments at every point in the supply chain, find and share the latest data, and send back valuable information for analytics. “Now we don’t have to wait to discover inventory hasn’t arrived – we can see it happening six steps farther up the supply chain and make changes accordingly – either adjusting schedules at the factory or finding the supplies. Mobile enablement has totally changed the quality of our information and our decision-making ability, and we are still just scratching the surface,” said one executive in the manufacturing space.

So how can others in the financial services industry do this, without risking security or creating compliance challenges? Banks and credit unions are best off using enterprise mobility management tools that:

  • Create a secure enterprise workspace on employee-owned devices for enterprise apps, mail, and content. Only in that controlled workspace can the company’s enterprise apps be opened and operated.
  • Deliver real-time content on demand by pushing it securely through encrypted tunnels, with the app, content, or both securely wrapped. IT can impose time-of-day and day-of-week limits for certain apps, if desired.
  • Ensure that protected or confidential information is distributed only according to policy, and prevent that information from being saved to the cloud or an unauthorized device.
  • Exercise control over the device if it is lost or stolen, including the ability to remotely wipe or lock data within the secure workspace.

When you consider that security is part and parcel of mobile enablement already, the mobile environment is likely more secure than the PC environment! So when financial organizations respond to regulatory pressure about security by backing away from BYOD (bring your own device) environments, they are missing a huge opportunity.

EME and Cost Savings

By discouraging mobile-enabled employees, financial institutions also sacrifice immense cost savings. Between spacious offices in high-priced neighborhoods, whole floors for IT workers, and vast call centers, many companies could save thousands of dollars by encouraging their employees to do their jobs remotely – provided they have the right mobile tools and access.

Organizations whose security concerns require employees to use corporate-owned devices for banking business come with another cost. The mobile carrier plan might run roughly $100 per employee, with a new phone every two years at $400-$500 each, multiplied by all the employees in an organization. With BYOD, the only added cost for the institution is that of mobile device and application management tools and administration, which nets out to roughly $10 per device.

Give EME a Second Look

Undoubtedly, security should govern the financial services industry’s adoption of mobile for any purpose. But bankers and credit unions executives are in business to be brilliant risk managers – not to eliminate risk but to take advantage of opportunity for their customers and members to prosper when they recognize that risks are being managed. For this reason, EME deserves a long second look from organizations that have avoided it for security reasons.


Bob OlsonBob Olson is a Vice President at Unisys where he manages the Global Financial Services Practice. In this capacity he works with clients by providing a portfolio of IT services, software and technology to help them solve their mission-critical problems. His 30 years of experience in the financial services industry includes managing diverse divisions of U.S. banks including IT, data processing, cash management, correspondent banking, check, loan, branch operations, product management, global operations and wholesale banking.

Darren McGrathDarren McGrath is the Unisys Global Director – Mobility Solutions. He is responsible for leading the strategy and development direction for Unisys Mobility Solutions including mobile environment management, mobile application services, mobile security and mobile assessments and transformation. He also leads the go to market initiatives designed to penetrate the mobile market and drive growth.

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