The Future of Enterprise Mobility

By Jack Rosenberger  |  Posted 02-20-2014
Mobile platforms

The Future of Enterprise Mobility

By Jack Rosenberger

To better understand the immediate future of enterprise mobility, CIO Insight recently spoke separately with Chris Hazelton, research director of mobile and wireless technologies at 451 Research, and Chris Marsh, a principal analyst of enterprise mobility at Yankee Group. The pair discussed mobility trends, device vendors, mobile ROI, and related developments for the enterprise in 2014 and beyond. Here is an edited version of the one-on-one interviews with Hazelton and Marsh.

 What are the most important trends affecting how IT handles mobility today?

Chris Hazelton: The two biggest trends driving the way that IT handles mobility are the limited ability to control the devices that employees are using and the increasing amount of corporate data that is going across these devices. This dynamic means IT must control a growing use of corporate data in an environment in which it is steadily losing control.

As IT has ceded ground to users in terms of the devices that are used, the invasion of mobile apps will need to be a rallying point for organizations to regain control of mobile by managing the enterprise data, apps and work environments on mobile devices. Users can control the device, but IT will need to be the gatekeeper for data.

What do you expect from Apple, BlackBerry, Nokia and Samsung this year in terms of enterprise support?

These four device vendors could not be more different in terms of their levels of support for the enterprise and the degree to which IT is responding to these efforts.

Apple is focused on the consumer and will not provide direct support for the enterprise. End-user organizations want to engage Apple, but they are largely met with silence. Filling this void is nearly every enterprise mobility management vendor, all of who want to provide support for Apple devices.

BlackBerry is the complete opposite in that it is working harder than ever to engage the enterprise even to the point of supporting competing devices, but IT is moving away from BlackBerry devices and management tools as the once-gold standard for enterprise mobility faces a questionable future.

Nokia is in a period of transition as Microsoft digests it. The device vendor relied heavily on Microsoft to push its devices in the enterprise. However, it had limited success as early versions of Microsoft’s Windows Phones were not yet ready for the enterprise or even targeted it. This transition period has put Nokia devices and Windows Phones well behind Android and iOS. With greater emphasis on its device business overall, we expect Microsoft will significantly increase Nokia support for the enterprise.

Samsung has invested in software, services and staff to target the enterprise well beyond any other Android supporter. The device vendor has expanded its APIs for the enterprise over that last two years and will now begin to sell services and custom offerings directly to large-scale enterprises.

What do you see as the future trends for enterprise marketing management (EMM)? How much of this is good news and how much is bad news?

The good news is that in a highly competitive market where vendors are fighting to differentiate themselves, the EMM market is evolving rapidly and providing new capabilities for the enterprise at relatively low costs. The tools that are available to IT will continue to evolve, and the SaaS-based delivery approach that many of these vendors provide means these improvements are regularly pushed out to customers. Improvements will focus on the control of applications and enterprise data.

The bad news is that as the market moves toward an Android and iOS duopoly, EMM vendors will remain limited in what they can do on mobile devices with the APIs provided by these vendors. While some Android device vendors are building large numbers of management APIs, most are well behind, forcing IT to moderate its approach to Android. Apple is primarily concerned with user experience and has taken a slow approach to creating management APIs for EMM vendors. The more the market depends on just Android and iOS, the more these restrictions will impact the advancement of EMM.

The Future of Enterprise Mobility

Chris Marsh, a principal analyst in enterprise mobility with Yankee Group, discusses an ROI specifically for mobility, mobile cloud platforms, application development and what enterprises can expect to see in terms of enterprise mobility in 2014.   

Tell us about your Return on Mobility (RoM) scoreboard and how it calculates current and future RoMs.

Chris Marsh: The Return on Mobility scorecard is a new research methodology that calculates the value enterprises achieve from their investments in the platforms they use to develop, deploy and manage mobile technologies and services. It's an ROI specifically for mobility. With the increasing importance of mobile, social and cloud technologies enabling business success, it’s crucial for companies to make the right, informed decisions concerning the solutions and platforms they use.

The focus of the RoM scorecard goes beyond total cost of ownership to measure ROI for enterprises through benefits such as application integration, employee productivity and customer experience.

Yankee Group independently sourced and surveyed customers of one of 10 different mobile application platforms used to develop, deploy and manage mobile business applications. The current RoM score is composed solely of the data provided by the survey respondents. The future RoM score uses the survey data gathered in this research study and also includes Yankee Group’s own qualitative scoring against a set of blueprint characteristics we believe will characterize the leading platforms in the future.

What changes do you envision for traditional IT departments during the next several years? And what can we expect to see in terms of enterprise mobility in 2014?

Among the changes Yankee Group looks to take place is that mobile applications will move front and center. It’s only in fairly recent times that the tools to help companies affect this shift have been available. Tools that are both enterprise-grade and that offer the type of agility, scalability and flexibility for enterprises to innovate in a truly mobile-world have not long been a reality. They are beginning to emerge, but enterprises are still being sold either the false promise that traditional approaches have all along allowed this capability or the false compromise that you can’t have both.

Another market change is mobile cloud platforms will look to become the new mobile middleware. New mobile cloud development and infrastructure platforms have emerged during the past 18 months with a steely gaze on the enterprise, on the proliferation of internal and customer-facing applications being considered, and on becoming the new mobile enterprise middleware. By abstracting much of the traditional back-end engineering complexity to cloud-based services, these vendors offer a compelling approach, one that will continue to have market-wide impact and be key to helping enterprises scale not only their applications and projects but also their innovation.

We also expect application development options to proliferate. Companies now have plenty of choices when it comes to app development. Besides the above platforms, they can continue to partner with developer agencies or boutique consultancies. Or they can turn to a connectivity platform or to one of the growing backend-as-a-service tools providers, and a wealth of easy-to-use mobile software development kits, or they could look to the growing momentum around responsive development approaches. These are all solid approaches.

About the Author

Jack Rosenberger is the managing editor of CIO Insight. You can follow him on Twitter via @CIOInsight. To read his previous CIO Insight article, “For Most CIOs, 'Life Is Good,' " click here.