2014 Mobile Resolutions

By Chris Marsh, Principal Analyst, Enterprise Mobility, Yankee Group — January 02, 2014

As an industry analyst I spend all of my working week analyzing and synthesizing data, research and musings around the enterprise mobility industry. As with anyone in any fast-paced industry, time is precious, focus critical and effective work an imperative.

With this in mind, and with 2014 dawning, below are my New Year’s resolutions. No diets, going to the gym and quitting alcohol here; no, this is my list of things I want to do better next year to make greater sense of this industry and give better advisory to our customers.

This is, of course, as much a list for enterprises and vendors, so I encourage all readers to see where there is relevance for how to work and think better in 2014.

Don’t forget to synthesize. Sometimes it seems that we, the wide community of advisors across different types of firms, focus too much on analyzing — breaking the different moving parts of this industry down into their neat constituent parts around which we have our own areas of speciality — EMM, applications, devices, platforms, services, the network etc. Further, we then break out different categories of vendor — device manufacturers, application platform vendors, operators, integrators etc.

What we collectively don’t do a good enough job of is synthesizing — putting all of this back together into a vision for how enterprises are affected by all of these different parts, and how they should strategize around this. Now more than ever there is the need for an ecosystem-wide view. If you are not organizing in a way in which you are envisioning a better future, and how to get there, you won’t have much of a future to play with.

For enterprises, it doesn’t matter what you call it, but bring greater central and, most importantly, greater cross-disciplinary (C-level, IT, lines of business, users, partners, other associated stakeholders) oversight into your mobile strategy. Maintain a view to side-stepping the inherent complexities involved in mobilizing and, in the process, bringing greater automation into the workflows around your business model innovation.

Focus on the ugly as well as the sparkly. It’s tempting to focus on the shiny new service or innovative platform or the sparkly new device, at the expense of the more gnarly, entangled longer-term structural issues. With the average CIO experiencing about a four year tenure, it’s easy to see why this can be so tempting.

However, the reality is, that one — if not the core challenge enterprises face — is to figure out how  to make  new innovations work with the legacy systems, infrastructure, protocols and services they have amassed over time and in which they are still likely significant and ongoing investments.

The growing irrelevance of the traditional three tiered enterprise application architecture in a more mobile world, for example, poses massive implications for technology migrations, future investments, vendor selection, human resourcing  and organizational change. The gold lies in getting these bits right to lay the foundations for ongoing adjustments and adaptations from old to new world.

Don’t make assumptions. Talking about ugly, Microsoft and BlackBerry’s strategies have hardly been covered in glory over the past few years, with much of our own primary data pointing to their considerable travails as enterprises look to Apple, Samsung and Google to fill the void. However, it’s not over until the fat lady sings as they say, and although, at times, it seems like the orchestra has struck up, I don’t hear any caterwauling quite yet. In the next few years we’ll see a weakening of the Apple-Google-Samsung triumvirate with Microsoft and Blackberry regaining some of their mojo.

•  Hold solution providers to even greater account. It’s par for the course for many vendors to try and monologue their briefings and updates to analysts à la “I’m going to tell you what you need to know, just sit back and listen.” At the mere whiff of this, I lose interest, massively.

The better among them, of course, are more conversational, discursive and willing to be challenged (if required). Unfortunately these are a rare breed. That’s why last year I shifted mostly to 30 minute briefings rather than an hour with a nod to the old maxim “if you can’t explain it simply you don’t understand it” assertion.

I have a long memory too — if you tell me you currently do offer something, and in six months it turns out you didn’t, I will remember. Also, don’t present back to me my own materials in your corporate template passing them off as your own (yes, more than once).

Don’t say you’re the only one/first one/ best at x, y or z unless you have some pretty compelling facts to back it up, and not just “because our customers tell us so.”

It’s simple — the most successful, credible and interesting solution providers are usually those willing to have an open discussion; because they are the ones who actively learn from those around them, whether analysts, competitors, peers or partners.

For enterprises, this couldn’t be more relevant — if any vendor can’t tell you what they stand for in relation to your own specific vision including what they mean (good or bad) for your existing technology estate, then tell them to go back to the drawing board and stop wasting your time.

I hope the above gives some food for thought. I look forward to continuing the conversation with you all in 2014.

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