Perhaps it’s an understatement to say that 2012 has been an exciting
year for the mobile enterprise.
iPhones have made their way into the corporation; tablets have become a viable platform for business apps; most enterprises have either adopted a BYOD policy or have made plans to do so; and the enterprise app store model has challenged our thinking about how IT departments should deploy mobile solutions to the workforce. And, as cloud computing has become a popular option to replace big servers running in house, an increasing number of cloud providers are adding mobility to their offerings.
Now is the time to start asking questions about 2013: What challenges will organizations have to face? Will we see any paradigm shifts? What can enterprises do to prepare? For insight, we sought the opinions of the five CIOs featured in our CIO Q&A series in 2012.
Adopting Tablet Computers
Robert Notte, VP of IT at Jamba Juice, believes tablets and smartphones will play an increasingly important role in business, especially in the restaurant industry. Notte says, “For example, I believe you will continue to see POS tablets replacing traditional POS terminals stationed in fixed locations. This, in turn, will create new challenges, such as customer flow issues. But with challenge, comes opportunity.”
Along those lines, Notte says we will continue to see the growth of enterprise feature rich mobile apps enabling operational efficiencies and more productivity in the workforce. There will be more consumer-facing tablets enabling a higher customization of orders, quicker speed of service and electronic payment without human interface.
He continues, “Because so many consumers are using tablets and smartphones, B2C texting will continue to thrive as a communication platform that maximizes flexibility, particularly for promotional alerts and special, super secret deals. Aside from that, texting will continue to be a great medium for instant dialogue with the customer.”
Notte also expects that “the workforce population’s use of tablets only will grow exponentially. Because they provide an easy way of making presentations and because they are so easy to carry around, tablets may replace the PC and the laptop as the communication vehicle of choice.”
Shaking up Mobile Commerce
“In the mobile commerce space, you will start seeing mergers and acquisitions of some of the smaller start-ups. With the recent IPOs of Facebook, Groupon and others, analysts and investors will be looking at how these formats actually make money or add exponential value. The pending tax legislation could challenge the way interstate e-commerce works, making brick and mortar more relevant,” says Notte. “I think organizations are starting to see that there won’t be a single mobile wallet winner. The keys are simplicity, convenience and motivation for the consumer.”
He predicts the growth of compelling reasons for consumers to make the switch from a physical wallet to a mobile one, but says that just making it easier and more convenient may not be enough. Notte points out, “Saving money, for example, is what will push consumers over the fence. Technology providers will have to be mindful of security and give consumers peace of mind in the knowledge that, in comparison with a real wallet with $100 in cash and exposed credit cards, your mobile wallet is a more secure option.”
Bringing Your Own Device (BYOD)
Dominic Nessi, CIO of Los Angeles World Airports, forecasts, “As mobile device manufacturers deluge the public with new models and new features in 2013 (and in the foreseeable future), it becomes increasingly more challenging for organizations to cope with personnel desiring to use their own devices. It will become more difficult to keep enterprise information safe and secure on devices for which security holes appear as rapidly as new versions roll out.” [Editor’s Note: For more on security in 2013 from our CIOs, turn to page 8.]
He goes on to say, “Bring your own device is fast becoming a common request by employees wishing to stay connected to their work, but not wanting to carry both a personal and business device. It is to an organization’s advantage to have access to and from their employees around the clock. However, with this approach comes a number of questions. Foremost is the challenge of how to have an enterprise IT infrastructure meld well with a host of different mobile device types and operating systems. When an organization provides the device, it can ensure compatibility and consistency. However, when employees start bringing their own, you have to create a flexible communication environment that allows not only e-mail, but maybe even internal applications, to run effectively on the handset.”
Nessi notes that while BYOD saves an organization the up-front cost of purchasing devices, and that some organizations provide a stipend or allowance to their employees who wish to BYOD, the latter approach brings potential tax implications for the employee, which are often overlooked until the IRS comes knocking.
“The second question with BYOD is how to deal with the threat of data leakage. As enterprise information flows from your internal network to a privately-owned device, loss of that device will also result in the potential loss of sensitive or confidential information. As we all know, mobile devices tend to get misplaced,” he says.
Pat Smith, VP and CIO of Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, says, “We are supporting BYOD for mobile phones for qualified users. However, for certain populations of users — in our situation, case managers — where we are enabling mobile-specific applications, we are still prescribing a specific device. We are struggling with ease of use and consistent user experience which takes inherent advantage of the operating system, and choice, which means the costly support of many operating systems. We are anxiously awaiting Windows 8, and the new tablets using it that will come to market, as we still need to support legacy applications that use ActiveX on mobile laptops or tablets.”
She points out, “Without a strong MDM platform, and a strong electronic communications policy, we could not offer BYOD. However, since we can provide all the necessary security functions through such platforms, I feel comfortable.”
Justin Kershaw, SVP/CIO of Eaton’s Industrial Sector, says “BYOD will expand more aggressively across all businesses, both small and large, that are not already there. Those organizations that are BYOD-lite - meaning BYOD, but only with devices approved by the IT department - will widen the selection of devices allowed. There won’t be a ton of company applications available on those devices, but employees will be allowed, and even in some cases encouraged, to get and support their own devices.”
Pat Brans is a mobile technology and productivity consultant and author of the book Master The Moment: Fifty CEOs Teach You the Secrets of Time Management.