Smartphone applications for enterprises are making their way fast into the corporate sector, offering new ways of gaining business and a competitive advantage through new services and developments. These apps are reinventing working processes and procedures across many different sectors, especially when investment apps targeting executives are introduced into the world market. According to Accenture, in just a few short years, tablets and smartphones went from being consumer-focused products to altering the enterprise landscape in a fundamental way. But with these types of enterprise apps, security risks also become an issue.
Enterprises are embracing technology in the way they do business and also as a catalyst to create something new — new markets, new products, and new areas of growth and revenues. Barclays Head of Research Operations Valerie Monchi says the quality of mobile apps in the consumer space has raised the bar for enterprise apps. In April 2014, Barclays bank launched an app for investment companies to give them access to content to support their investment decisions, giving large institutional investors access to data, analytics and research from the bank.
With the increase of mobile apps for investing and business relations on iOS and Android, the importance of smartphone applications in differing sectors is growing rapidly. Various applications are working to change how executives select investors, making it easier for investors and companies alike to connect. An example is Australian company Fortbridge’s Fund Finder – a new application allowing mining and energy executives to easily find potential investors by simply searching available companies in and around the user’s location. The new technology has come off the back of an original design for investor relations consultants but later was expanded and made available to mining and energy company executives. Although the app might not match up to services offered by investor relations consultants face-to-face, the convenience of the app is transparent.
Various applications are working to change how executives select investors, making it easier for investors and companies alike to connect
The app assumes a high level of usage will come from executives relying on smart phones or tablets for their information requirements in long-term investment planning, lowering the importance of face-to-face meetings with investor relations consultants. With side funds as well as brokers and investment advisors in the world’s major mining investment centres made so readily available, executives are able to jump on to the app and locate sector-specific investors in key investment areas. This is proving important for mining and energy management departments looking to build the profile of their company and to help executives locate qualified investors in locations they may not be totally familiar with.
In this instance, most companies would enjoy the convenience, efficiency and profitability of enterprise applications like this one. However, the biggest concern companies might have surrounds security. Although Fund Finder’s app subscription is handled through a third party with all credit card details kept and security managed on a separate site, many other apps for investment, banking or company information sharing might not be so secure. When everything is becoming public, private institutions are becoming bigger targets in a hyperconnected world through enterprise apps. Despite data encryption offering a method of controlling access to sensitive data, many companies and investors alike still perceive this as a risk as more hackers target mobile apps and devices.
Agenci Information Security General Manager Garry Hibberd says cyberspace has become a complex environment where the interaction of people, software and services on the internet is growing at an exponential rate. This is all supported by distributed technology and inter-connected networks, which is also growing in complexity on a daily basis. Despite this, Hibberd says smartphone application users do not normally consider where information is going to be transferred and where it is going to be held, from a security point of view. Users have a tendency to treat smartphones as low risk without understanding the security implications of using devices to access corporate data and networks. People forget technology is merely just a tool and the data is of key importance. And understanding the process of how information flows from an organisation through data storage systems at the backend is also important.
“Smartphones are getting smarter but people aren’t keeping track. There are smarter phones but stupider people. With great connectivity and user ability, [people] have a responsibility to understand what that means and what they actually do with that information so rather than just clicking on accept when it asks you a question, you should be looking hard at the terms and conditions listed. Understanding what it is that is being asked of you and what you are agreeing to is important.”
Hibberd says although most applications are developed with security in mind, hackers are still able to gain access to information a user has access to, no matter how secure the backend is. It is then about educating users relying on certain applications and keeping things secure, but most importantly, make sure they are responsible for keeping it secure themselves.
It goes without saying smartphone applications are important in gaining business through new services and developments. The easier the app is to use and connect with other businesses, the easier the processes and procedures become. It is important, though, that users are aware of the implications of information sharing, particularly when it comes to investment and business relations.