2 Top Mobile Trends

By Chris Marsh, Principal Analyst, Yankee Group — May 27, 2014

Global mobile operators are in the battle to win over the global mobile enterprises. However, Yankee Group’s "IT Decision Maker" March survey data shows that, whereas only two years ago, they were (by far) the preferred partner for implementing services like telecom expense management (TEM), mobile application deployments and other mobility services, they have since slid sharply. This is among both SMBs and larger enterprises as companies look to pure play vendors and systems integrators.

In 2012, 72% of companies favored them as their TEM provider; now it is 55%, with an even bigger fall among larger enterprises, as almost a quarter fewer look to them as their partner of choice.
 
For mobile application deployments, there has been an almost 10% fall; as companies also look for a strategic partner for end-to-end management mobility solutions.

So why is this happening? Well, our surveys also show two other broad trends.

Trend 1: Complexity
First, there is a sharp rise over this same time period in the proportion of companies finding huge complexity as they come to implement and manage mobile solutions.

To that end, mobile security is regarded as the biggest challenge in supporting a more mobile workforce. It is the main reason compelling companies opt for a managed mobility platform—46% say that scaling mobile security policies across their mobile assets is “very difficult” (8, 9 or 10 out of 10), with another 26% saying it is "difficult" (6,7).
 
The cost of managing mobile devices is the second largest single factor in supporting the mobile workforce, with 38% finding it very difficult to manage effectively; another 29%, difficult.

Whether it is having visibility over what’s being done on devices, managing software upgrades or implementing user policies, between 30% and 40% are finding this a significant challenge, and this is growing.
 
Trend 2: More Mobile Maturity
A second trend we are seeing is that despite these challenges more companies are realizing the strategic imperative to become more mobile mature and, therefore, to bring some of the competencies they need from outsourced providers into their business:

  • 68% of companies say that over the next 12 months they will be growing the number of employees they have involved in supporting mobile projects; only 3% say they will be decreasing it; the rest say that there will be no change either way.

  • For this 68%, they are looking for a variety of skills—from mobile application development to mobile security and governance, risk and compliance experts to leadership roles to coordinate the mobile strategy.

It is at this nexus of rising aspirations but increasing complexity that some mobile operators are falling down. As mobility in the enterprise has grown from its infancy into its childhood over the past decade, it is those vendors that have been slow to realize where enterprises are getting value from—in easily deployable and foundational commodity services like enterprise mobility management (EMM).
 
Here, we have seen a growth in SaaS options, easy user onboarding and interoperability with other third-party products, on the one hand, and customizable application solutions where they fundamentally seeking the greater business value, on the other.
 
Market Dynamic
Filling the demand has been a raft of companies from lighter-weight and more easily deployable mobile application platforms like Catavolt, Mendix, Webalo, FeedHenry and Kidozen; backend-as-a-service providers like FatFractal and Kinvey; SaaS-based EMM services like Fiberlink (now part of IBM), to easily integrate-able third-party cloud services like Twilio.
 
On the other hand there has been a rise in boutique integrators like Mubaloo, Mutual Mobile, Mobiquity, Esselar, Happiest Minds, Brillio, Solstice Mobile and Rapid Values, along with larger Systems Integrators like Accenture and like Cognizant, who are not only growing resources in their mobility practice but also beginning to productise their own packaged mobile solutions.

With these market dynamics, enterprises should keep these points in mind.

  • Rethink the vendor pecking order: Mobile operators have some inherent strengths when it comes to deploying mobility, but there are many more options for strategic partners now than there ever were.

  • Expertise in security is a must: Look for partners with core skills around mobile and cross-channel security. Scaling mobile projects and internal innovation can only happen off the back of a core foundational perspective on how to secure the full range of device, application and data assets.

  • Look for partners who "get" the importance of API-first: Whatever solution you are deploying, ensure that your partner gets the need to think API-first. Companies should assume that at least in potential, if not in the end reality, all of their internal data sources will be exposed to the mobile channel. The need for an API-first mentality is becoming increasingly critical to future-proof not just mobile but cross-channel strategies.

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