Building Security Architecture Up Front Key for Enterprise Mobile App Strategy

A couple of mobile experts recommended get your security architecture in order early on in your enterprise mobile app development process

One message came through loud and clear at the Mobile Connect conference in Boston this week: make sure you get security, compliance, legal and HR involved early. Once you have those elements in place, you can develop more freely.

That was the advice fromĀ Phillip Easter, Director of Mobile Apps at American Airlines and Art King, who is global infrastructure architecture lead at Nike.

King said it’s better to get HR, Legal, security folks and so forth involved early in the process because otherwise you’ll be playing catch-up later on and it could slow down or stop the project you had worked so hard to develop and nurture to that point.

Easter was more direct from a security perspective, saying that CIOs are still afraid of mobile for a lot of the reasons you might expect including security, privacy and compliance.

That’s why Easter said, it’s so important to get security nailed down early. He said, it’s imperative to have the security team review the data architectures you’re using to connect your applications to the enterprise data repositories. Once you have that established, you can open it up to other mobile applications.

He said, ” Once you open your security on back end you can map more and more data functionality.” That’s why it’s a crucial first step. Then, Easter said, you can let your developers run more freely because they have that security structure in place.

Nike’s King said users — whether they are customers or internal users — are demanding ease of use and they have grown used to simplicity from using these devices as consumers. They want the same simple tools to access their enterprise content too.

King encourage IT to embrace the changes going on around them and learn to help users solve the business problems they face using mobile apps to access enterprise systems.

Easter said, fortunately, mobile platforms have been designed to make it easy for programmers to jump in and produce apps fairly quickly — which is a good thing too because today’s development environment leaves little time for dilly-dallying. You have to produce apps quickly and react to changing market conditions or shifting needs of your internal user base.

But he indicated that design is often sacrificed for speed. Developers often learn to use these tools on the fly, but then lack uniform design approaches. That’s why he plans to put a common style guide in place, so that whatever the app, it has a common look and feel across apps (to the extent that’s possible).

Going mobile is becoming increasingly imperative for organizations, so take the advice of a couple of pros who have been there. And remember, however you go in terms of design, it’s always important to lock up those key constituencies in your organization early in the project.

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