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Android-Powered Nokia Smartphones: New contenders in the enterprise mobile device market

HMD Global, the company behind Nokia phones, is becoming a key player in enterprise mobility and workplace transformation

Faced with pressure to improve business productivity and accelerate innovation, all organizations are making digital transformation an imperative. While early investments focused on creating new revenue opportunities and new ways to engage customers, many businesses now recognize that transformational change demands investment in core operations and processes, exploiting modern technologies and new ways of working to transform the workplace and empower and enable the workforce.

At the heart of this is enterprise mobility, with the smartphone poised to become the hub of the digital workplace. Employees are demanding better workplace technology experiences, and IT organizations face increasingly complex challenges in selecting, deploying, securing and managing the devices to meet expectations and maximize employee productivity.

In a competitive market, Finnish device manufacturer HMD Global is not yet widely recognized as an enterprise supplier. However, the company is gaining profile and stature thanks to its interesting enterprise mobile strategy with its Android-based Nokia smartphones.

Who is HMD Global?

Headquartered in Finland, HMD Global was founded in 2016 when it acquired the Nokia feature-phone business from Microsoft. Immediately embracing Android as its platform of choice, HMD Global rapidly expanded its portfolio, building on Nokia’s brand strength in feature phones by introducing six smartphones in its first year. In the three years since launch, it has released 25 new Android-based devices. The company has distribution partners in over 80 markets and its devices are used in almost 200 countries.

Building on its consumer market focus, in 2017 HMD Global turned its attention to the enterprise opportunity, becoming one of the earliest manufacturers to have a device verified in the Android Enterprise Recommended programme. Today, the company has an impressive 17 smartphone models verified as Android Enterprise Recommended devices. They span multiple price points to give enterprise buyers the choice and flexibility to meet a range of different business uses.

For many organizations, Android Enterprise is becoming the default choice for their enterprise mobility strategy owing to the sheer number of Android devices available at various prices and the flexibility of the platform to support several business needs. CCS Insight’s 2019 survey of over 400 IT decision-makers indicated that 56% of company-owned mobile devices in the US and Europe run on Android. A major source of this growth is the Android Enterprise Recommended programme, which Google launched in 2018 to simplify and accelerate the process of selecting Android devices for enterprise use. The programme verifies individual devices to ensure they are ready for enterprise deployment.

Requirements include:1

  • Minimum hardware specifications and Android operating system version 8 or later
  • Provision of a core set of standardized Android apps
  • Guarantees that the manufacturer will provide at least one major Android operating system upgrade and security updates every 90 days from the initial shipping date of the device
  • Support for integration with enterprise mobility management tools and bulk deployment methods including zero-touch enrolment

Together, these requirements are designed to ensure devices provide a consistent experience to users and make it easy for IT organizations to select, deploy, support, update, secure and manage devices. The programme aims to reassure businesses of all sizes that are investing in enterprise mobility, even those in regulated sectors such as banking and financial services.

In 2018, UK-based financial services company Yorkshire Building Society made the strategic decision to embrace Android for its corporate-owned devices, selecting Nokia devices because of their verification in the Android Enterprise Recommended programme. Similarly, HSBC has stated that it will only consider Android Enterprise Recommended devices for its employees owing to the level of security and manageability the programme guarantees.

A differentiated approach to enterprise mobility

Underpinned by the strength of the Nokia brand, which is associated with reliable, trusted mobile devices, HMD Global’s enterprise proposition focuses on several differentiators.

Broad range of affordable devices to meet a variety of usage scenarios

One of HMD Global’s strongest differentiators is the breadth of its device portfolio for enterprise customers. Its collection of 17 Nokia smartphones verified as Android Enterprise Recommended span from premium devices to lower-priced, mid-range devices, giving organizations more flexibility in the devices they can offer to employees.

A common challenge for businesses is that they often have multiple usage scenarios that need to be addressed by their enterprise mobility strategy.

For example, they may require personal productivity devices for office workers, shared devices in a retail store, premium devices for executives andrugged devices for field engineers and delivery workers. Some devices mustsupport multiple scenarios while others address a single use, for example hotel check-ins. One-size-fits-all is therefore rarely anoption, especially in a large enterprise, and a multiple device strategy becomes an imperative.

Android Enterprise is known for its deployment flexibility, whether in relation to the ownership of the device, supporting corporate-owned personally-enabled (COPE) devices as well as bring-your-own device (BYOD) strategies, or in terms of the types of scenarios supported, such as single-use devices or shared devices and kiosks. HMD Global’s Nokiabranded devices embrace this flexibility, and the company’s comprehensive portfolio enables organizations to meet multiple usage needs with a single supplier.

A clean, familiar employee experience

The employee experience is a critical factor in business device selection, not least because it is one of the central reasons for investments in workplace transformation. The way people want to work is changing, influenced by their experience of mobile and cloud technologies as consumers.

Mobile working is now an essential part of the working day. CCS Insight’s Employee Workplace Technology Survey 2019 asked more than 650 employees from organizations in the US and Europe about their workplace habits. The survey revealed that 42% of employees spend more than three hours working on a mobile device during the day, a figure that rises to 51% among millennial workers.

It is becoming more and more important for employers to respond to these changing workstyles in a proactive and supportive way, providing the right tools and experiences to employees to maximize their productivity and effectiveness, and to ensure the business can attract and retain the best talent. There are several areas where Nokia devices stand out in providing a strong employee experience. In addition to its commitment to the Android Enterprise Recommended programme, HMD Global made the early decision to embrace Android One for its smartphone portfolio. Android One takes a pure approach to Android deployment, delivering a stock Android experience on devices, with no additional apps or other “bloatware” installed. This ensures that HMD Global’s customers get a clean, consistent device experience on all their Nokia devices, uncluttered by pre-installed apps that may not be applicable to or relevant for the intended use. This brings benefits for the end user but also for the IT department, which need not waste time removing unnecessary apps during set-up.

A feature of Android Enterprise that is highly valued by employees is the work profile. This enables employees to have a single device for both work and personal use, but only the work profile is managed and accessible by the IT organization through a mobility management system, with the personal profile remaining private to the employee. Google made significant updates to work profiles in Android 10, such as new privacy controls and work-specific keyboard options.

HMD Global’s commitment to rapid update deployment means that Nokia device owners can benefit from these improvements sooner, reinforcing the experience for users. Five months after Google released Android 10, six Nokia devices had received the Android 10 upgrade.

Security and manageability even at the mid-range

For IT organizations, device purchasing requires careful balancing of employee expectations and corporate demands of security, manageability and the total cost of ownership.

Security is a particular concern, as mobile devices present a growing attack surface for businesses to manage. According to CCS Insight’s research, security is the number-one investment priority for IT decision-makers. Traditional security models have come under pressure from the growth in cloud applications and mobile end points. The situation is worsened when employees use their device for personal use alongside work tasks, and yet excessive or overly intrusive security processes can significantly inhibit the experience for employees. CCS Insight’s Employee Workplace Technology Survey 2019 shows that 39% of employees feel their company’s current security technologies and processes impede their productivity.

It is critical for businesses to ensure devices are updated with the latest security updates as soon as possible. However, this can be challenging when performed for multiple different device types and usage scenarios. Verification against both the Android One and Android Enterprise Recommended programmes guarantees HMD Global’s customers monthly security updates, even on lower-cost, midrange Nokia devices.

However, HMD Global goes further to meet the security and management needs of business customers.

  • Because of its commitment to Android One and delivering a clean version of the Android experience, HMD Global can deploy updates much faster than other Android device providers. HMD Global reports that, on average, its devices receive security patches within 17 days of Google making them available, and over 90% of Nokia devices received the Android 9 Pie update within 12 months, almost twice as many as those of most of its competitors during the same period.
  • HMD Global’s Android One commitment also means that it guarantees two major Android upgrades per device — more than the requirements of the Android Enterprise Recommended programme. This helps extend the lifetime of the device, reducing the total cost of ownership.

These factors give business customers confidence that potential security vulnerabilities will be patched quickly and help alleviate the pressure on IT departments responsible for managing complex and extensive enterprise mobility assets.

HMD Global’s approach enables it to provide a worldwide deployment process for updates, allowing multinational customers to ensure all their devices are at the same patch level. HMD Global also provides good visibility of its update process, publicly documenting its patch deployments for each device.2

Considerations for decision-makers

Increasingly competitive markets are driving businesses to invest in workplace transformation initiatives to enable innovation and improve productivity. Enterprise mobility is a critical factor in meeting employees’ changing expectations and work styles, and companies like HMD Global and others are seizing this opportunity by tailoring their offerings for an enterprise audience.

As a relatively new entrant to the enterprise market, HMD Global brings a broad device portfolio bolstered by the Nokia brand and its commitment to the Android Enterprise Recommended programme. With its investment in this area and its clear pledge to help overcome the challenges facing enterprise mobile buyers, we see HMD Global emerging as a new contender in the enterprise device space.

We advise CIOs and IT decision-makers planning an investment in enterprise mobility to consider these recommendations:

Focus on the employee experience.

Ultimately, this will determine whether workplace device strategies succeed or fail. Evaluate devices and platform technologies that will affect the employee experience over the next two to three years. Consider a solution that helps improve employee productivity and provides a clean, focused device experience, like that delivered with HMD Global’s Android One approach, to help employees stay focused and efficient.

Prioritize regular, timely updates to ensure device security.

Securing enterprise devices and content is a top priority for businesses investing in mobility. Security applies at multiple levels, but the foundation is ensuring that the device itself is always up to date and fully patched. Look for suppliers that guarantee regular platform and security updates to maintain protection and reduce total cost of ownership. The Android Enterprise Recommended programme identifies devices that are enterprise-grade and meet elevated standards for security and update frequency.

Invest in a flexible device supplier to support your mobile workplace transformation.

All organizations must prioritize device functions that make employees more productive on the move. However, most organizations need to enable, support and manage more than one deployment scenario as part of an enterprise mobility strategy. Look for a flexible device supplier, such as HMD Global, that can address a range of deployment scenarios while minimizing the associated security and management overheads of a complex mobile transformation strategy.

Take a holistic approach to assessing total cost of ownership when selecting business devices.

The total cost of ownership of enterprise mobile phone investments goes beyond the cost of the device, or even the IT management and support overhead. The cost of repairs such as replacing broken screens — particularly on high-end devices — can multiply quickly at enterprise scale, and security breaches can havea hefty financial impact if they affect business operations, sales or incur fines for breaching data privacy regulations. It is important to choose a supplier that helps to mitigate these risks and minimize the total cost of ownership.

1For the full list of requirements for Android Enterprise Recommended verification, see: []( 2 See [](