If you thought big data was hot in the enterprise, mobility may be even hotter. After all, who among us hasn’t done work from our mobile phones, tablets, watches… you name it.

But mobility isn’t about a single device.

It’s about giving business users and decision makers the ability to easily access, create, contribute to and collaborate on information from anywhere, at any time, via any device — without putting the enterprise at risk.

It is the future of work.

Later today, at AirWatch Connect, AirWatch by VMware’s Mobility event in Atlanta this week, company executives will make six wide ranging announcements around their new enterprise mobility management (EMM) innovations, products and partnerships.

Understanding EMM

For those who aren’t familiar with EMM, it reaches far beyond enrolling and configuringmobile devices so that they can be used for work. “EMM is about managing devices, apps , identity and content,”explained Jim Lundy, CEO and Lead Analyst at Aragon Research.

In other words, even if the phone or tablet that you use for work belongs to you, your company may have or want to have, control of the applications, content, security and data that you use or accrue for work related purposes.

It also goes to follow, that the non-work related activities, apps and information on your phone, are none of your company’s business.

You want your privacy, and they want you to have it. Really. They don’t want to open themselves to being responsible for your private information or activities, whether we’re talking about your kids’ soccer schedules or your Ashley Madison activities.

Privacy by Design

Despite all of the buzz we hear around the popularity of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and EMM programs, some workers are reluctant to mix their work and personal lives on the same device. For them it seems to be an issue of privacy and trust.

Noah Wasmer, VP of Product Management at VMware, thinks their concerns can be addressed with education and transparency, Today at AirWatch Connect the AirWatch Privacy First program will be introduced. It will provide end users with education with the ability to see what IT sees.

“We protect enterprise data and applications but not at the expense of user privacy,” said Wasmer.

And while this may seem simple, think about your phone being lost or stolen. It holds not only your data, but your company’s data as well. While remote-wipe doesn’t seem extreme in the case of a missing phone, what if you want to engage with something on your device that your company doesn’t trust. Whose risk is it?

In other words, does your boss have the right to tell you what you can and can’t do with your phone?

The answer, by and large, seems to be “no,” which could leave your employer and you between a rock and hard place.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. With AirWatch, if IT sees something dangerous (its tool scans only in aggregate according to Erik Frieberg, vice president of Marketing and end-user computing at WMware), they can remove the enterprise data from your device leaving all else intact.

Learning Opportunities

Mobile Security

Threat protection is extra critical on mobile devices. And while IT departments spend hours and hours leveraging advanced security solutions to mitigate threats, best-in-class cybersecurity will now be just seconds away for AirWatch customers, the company claims.

Today AirWatch introduced the Mobile Security Alliance with 10 initial members. They include Palo Alto Networks, Check Point, FireEye, Appthority, Lookout, Pradeo, Proofpoint, Skycure, Veracode and Zimperium. The alliance will provide customers with validated security solutions.

Today there about 3 million mobile apps.

By 2020 there will be over 30 million, at least that’s the estimate that Lundy provided to us.

Needless to say, it would make sense that all of those apps adhered to the same standards–that’s what ACE (App Configuration for Enterprise) is all about. Solution providers like Dropbox, Box, Syncplicity, Salesforce, Roambi among others belong to it.

Just today 21 new enterprise app providers announced support for the ACE Initiative, including Acacus Technologies, Blue Jeans, Boxer, Cotap, Element 55, Fotonotes, GoFormz, Kinvey, MightyMeeting, Movius, Nacho Cove, Roambi, Replicon, SAP, Socialcast by VMware, StarMobile, SkyGiraffe, TeamViewer, TeleMessage, and Wandera.

It’s worth noting that SAP may appear to be an outlier in this crowd, but Quentin Clark, the company’s CTO and board member, may not see it that way, pointing to his company’s Success Factors and Concur Solutions.

“Enterprises are transforming as they go through their digitization journey and, it is the new applications that are mobile, aware of context, analytics driven, and in the cloud where everything is going to change,” he said, adding that by following the ACE open standards of best practices “we can simplify our customer’s efforts of managing the respective apps.”

Vendor Support Abounds

If AirWatch wants to own mobility in the enterprise, it will no doubt need to play nicely with many (as in almost all) mobile operating systems, device manufacturers, and app partners as possible.

Today there are announcements around Windows, iOS and Samsung as well. Go to our past coverage or the company’s website if you want to learn more. The large number of enterprise solution providers who integrate with AirWatch is well worth noting.