Transitioning to a mobile environment hits enterprises with more change in a shorter time period than transitioning to any other recent technology development.
Application development nightmares. Heavier pull on IT support staff. Employee demands. Privacy regulation complexities. Huge data security risks. Technology investments increasing exponentially over the next three years. One thing is clear: mobility and its user-friendly paradigm will be a driving force for enterprise mobility adoption in the next few years.
How will enterprise mobility evolve in 2012 and beyond? We see indications that the following five trends are already underway in 2012 and will accelerate in the next two to three years.
1. Mobile platforms and devices will consolidate in the next two years
The dominant platforms today are Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android in the consumer world. BlackBerry still dominates the enterprise world but is being quickly replaced first with Apple’s platform and Android catching up fast. Microsoft will continue to be in catch-up mode and has a good shot at competing successfully in mobile office productivity applications and devices.
The Android market and ecosystem is the most fragmented today with more than 170 flavors of OS versions, screen sizes, and customizations. With the recent Motorola acquisition, Google clearly intends to provide some level of standardization and vertical integration. The Android fragmentation issues won’t disappear, but it likely will be much more tightly controlled particularly as enterprise adoption takes off.
2. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) will gain acceptance as MDM and MAM solutions mature
Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Application Management (MAM) solutions are fast maturing and will allow for secure provisioning and monitoring (among other things) of mobile devices and applications. While technology solutions will emerge, the knottier issues in the BYOD model will be around legal, employee privacy, and regulatory issues. We believe it will take several years to resolve these issues In the meantime, enterprises will allow “limited” (type of devices and applications) mobile access to their employees as they build out their mobile reference architectures and associated infrastructure. As a result, we will see mixed mode or “hybrid” Scenarios (i.e., companies allowing both corporate-owned devices and employee-owned devices depending on access needs of employees).
3. Enterprises will employ a hybrid application strategy as they wait for HTML5 standards to emerge
Given the dynamic nature and fragmentation of the mobile market, how should enterprises deal with the application development challenges while the industry evolves to HTML5? Regarding application strategy, a CIO we interviewed in Sand Hill’s recent enterprise mobility study (“Leaders in Enterprise Mobile Strategies: Tug of War Between Business Value and Risks”) commented:
“The jury is still out on how deep we want to customize on those three platforms [Android, Apple and Microsoft]. The experience is tied closely to the capabilities of the device. If we generalize that to a common denominator across the platforms, will users tolerate if it’s not similar to their experience in their personal lives? The standards haven’t emerged yet to where we can bet on this. Back in the old days, enterprises used to drive standards. Now it’s the consumerization of the enterprise, and we’re trying to mimic what’s going in the industry.”
Enterprises will do both native apps and HTML5 for now. Both strategies will co-exist, as each has advantages, disadvantages and specific use cases where they make sense.
An effective way of dealing with the market fragmentation and interoperability due to the proliferating devices and operating system platforms is to use a Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP). A MEAP enables developers to build cross-platform applications. However, our study revealed that many enterprises still are not knowledgeable about these technologies.
4. Enterprises will begin rolling out formal mobile strategies, roadmaps and policies
Companies will begin to analyze how mobile technology can generate business value for their
organization and view investment and project decisions from the perspective of how users (customers and employees) will interact with mobile devices. They will begin to build out a total cost of ownership (TCO) model and a governance framework around the BYOD model and the associated privacy, regulations and legal issues.
5. The mobile market will look very different in three years
- Tablet-style devices will become more prevalent.
- Touch-screen functionality will migrate to desktop and laptop platforms
- Price points of touch-screen devices will go down, but a $500 laptop will still be less expensive than a tablet with dual keyboard and touch-screen capabilities.
- Mobile apps will grow significantly around the world in the next two years as companies expand into the new growth economies, which are already predominantly mobile.
- Users will have the means to create and customize apps that are very personal to them, tailoring apps to their job and preferences.
- The vendor and services companies landscape will look very different in three years because of integration between hardware and software vendors in mobile provisioning and management technologies. Google-Motorola, Microsoft-Nokia, and Verizon-VMware are early examples. Microsoft is likely to be the vendor that comes up with a cross-platform operating system solution and also establish protocols. Cloud services providers’ revenues will increase substantially from providing hosted mobility solutions for small and midsize businesses.
The future direction of enterprise mobility adoption is very positive. Technology, process, security and governance issues will be resolved. PCs will become personal servers. They will be replaced by mobile as end-point devices. Cloud will play a major role in hosting mobile applications. SaaS vendors will play an important role as they already understand how to host SaaS applications and they will extend this expertise to mobile applications.
Kamesh Pemmaraju heads cloud computing and enterprise mobility research for Sand Hill Group. Follow him on Twitter @kpemmaraju.