The global reinsurance giant Swiss Re is dependent on highly flexible mobile IT, with more and more staff using their own smartphones and tablets to access its intranet and personal information management (PIM) apps. It has successfully implemented the "Bring-Your-Own-Device" (BYOD) concept by choosing a secure, highly scaleable multi-OS enterprise mobility management (EMM) system, and a local partner to manage all of its technical and organizational aspects.
Zurich-based Swiss Re is the world's second largest reinsurer. It initially relied on BlackBerry for its mobile IT but is replacing the last 2,300 devices this year. Over the past six years, some 4,500 iPhones and iPads have been added to the system alongside the existing company devices. The Apple units are handled by MobileIron's Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) system, introduced alongside the BlackBerry platform in 2010.
BYOD offers employees a choice
The multi-OS EMM solution was rolled out with the help of local partner Nomasis AG. It has since increasingly become the company's central mobile platform, and a key component of its mobility culture.
"Every employee should be able to work in the way they want and are used to," says Urs Moser, expert infrastructure architect and Vice President Information Technology at Swiss Re. "We scrutinised some of the leading EMM solutions, and concluded that MobileIron was the best one for our needs."
The combination of iPhones, iPads and the MobileIron EMM solution has led the company systematically to develop the BYOD concept. "Around a third of the smartphones and tablets are corporate owned, and the other two thirds are employee owned," Moser says.
The new company devices will be Nokia Lumia 635s running Windows Phone 8.1. MobileIron's multi-OS operability makes it easy to incorporate this relatively new mobile system. Likewise, Android is a possibility in the future. If it meets the company's security requirements, staff wishing to use Android devices will probably be allowed to do so as part of the BYOD strategy, obviously within the framework of MobileIron.
MobileIron Also Replacing Some of Swiss Re's Proprietary Solutions
Swiss Re's mobility strategy is currently centered on third-party mobile mail and PIM and proprietary corporate apps. The latter includes a browser providing secure access to applications on the intranet, and the iDocs app, which stores documents from an online list on users' tablets.
Other proprietary apps are being secured by MobileIron technology such as AppConnect containerization. These include a sales app, and an app for iPad support for supervisory board meetings, with others on the drawing board.
The 7,000 smartphones and tablets used at Swiss Re and managed via the MobileIron platform are a key component of the company's IT and its "mobile first" policy. They are incorporated into central components of this IT in many different ways, including Active Directory; Exchange ActiveSync to control access to the MobileIron gateway, MobileIron Sentry; a third-party security proxy via the API; and most importantly certificate management. Certificates are used by Microsoft CA and an SCEP server.
"We use certificates for many purposes, including Exchange server and corporate WLAN access, and identity management," explains Urs Moser.
Employee Satisfaction Drives Productivity
Swiss Re has invested heavily in mobile IT, and this must obviously provide a benefit to its business. Moser says the most important of these is undoubtedly a significant rise in user productivity. "Mobility improves throughput because staff can access documents more quickly, whether they're in the office or traveling on business. "He says Swiss Re's BYOD concept is another very important factor in productivity.
"Supporting nearly all current mobile operating systems is a big technical and organizational challenge, but it's worth it for us. It's impossible to overestimate the benefits of mobile in terms of employee satisfaction and productivity."