Anyone in the enterprise who has dealt with mobility should appreciate the analogy put forth by researcher Maribel Lopez, founder of Lopez Research and former Forrester analyst. She borrowed one of the most famous opening lines in literature, during a presentation at the recent BlackBerry Experience in New York City: “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”
The Tale of Two Cities and the tale of mobility do not stop there, as Dickens went on to write and Lopez quoted: “It was the age of wisdom. It was the age of foolishness. It was the epic of belief…”
She said that is exactly how she feels about the mobile market today. Never has there been so much connectivity with over 5 billion phones, over 1 billion smartphones and the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) in both business and personal lives. At the same time, of course, mobile device types, multiple operating systems and the rebuilding of processes for mobile can bring with them a few “bad times.”
Where does foolishness and belief come in? It was silly to try and lock down environments and prevent “BYOWhatever.” But the conviction is that mobile can help transform and reinvent businesses, according to Lopez. “My belief is that we are evolving into the next generation of mobile and have a foundation of things such as EMM,” she said.
According to Lopez’ surveys, mobility and mobile enabling is, not surprisingly, one of the key concerns in the overall IT landscape. Big Data analytics is playing a role too, but she said that’s a big buzz term, that is still causing confusion. “Mobile is a bit more mature, and I’d like to characterize it as something we that we do day-to-day and Big Data as something that is still evolving and something we are still trying to figure out,” she explained.
In the context of mobile itself, app development and mobile enablement are the key trends right now. Over the last few years, strategy was still being defined, and BYOD was a huge part of the discussion, but that was mainly about providing email and calendar access. “This is not as far as I would have thought we would come during that time, but in the past year, we’ve had more than 53% of companies saying they are enabling 10 or more apps,” said Lopez.
She sees this as the next step in the evolution towards a truly mobile empowered, mobile enabled business, that will become all about “right-time experiences.”
The Right Time
In the world of consumer goods, it’s all about “the right products, at the right place, at the right time.” Applying this to mobility, however, means “the right time, right place and right information” for employees, customers and business partners, according to Lopez.
This next step in mobility is the next big challenge as well. Lopez said, “It won’t happen overnight. I see the evolution in 3 phases—extend, enhance and transform.”
Extend is where many business have already been—phase one of mobility—moving the simpler things she mentioned, like email access, to mobile devices. From there, pieces of the workflow are added.
That leads (or has led) to enhancement, where organizations started thinking about what they could do differently through mobile. Contextual services are key to this phase—what can be done when intelligence about location, time of day, motion and vibration, for example, are available. Context takes workflow to a higher level of efficiency and can enable proactivity rather than reactivity.
The transform phase, she noted, is all about experience—leveraging all the attributes of the device and reexamining processes; making things more seamless. Lopez said, “It’s about more than efficiencies at this point. This is really about giving customers, partners and employees a more compelling experience.”
Contextual Enterprise Mobility Management
In light of extend, enhance and transform—what does a mobile strategy look like? It all started with mobile device management (MDM), but since then, much has been added including different levels of security, application management and enterprise catalogs for apps, analytics and testing. “So, EMM is much bigger than MDM was, or ever could be, and given what needed to be done, we’ve seen a lot of change and evolution in this space,” said Lopez.
A framework of EMM can bring it all together; manage and secure; and create the right time experiences needed to differentiate a business. Yet even as this concept becomes mainstream, it’s already iterating
Where is it going? Lopez explained, “It is going into the concept of contextual enterprise mobile management. What makes it contextual? It starts being more about the people and the content and less about the device and the app. It’s about having access to mobile in one place, with one device, at one time.“
With this contextual EMM, the concept of “Things” being managed also comes into play. So it’s much broader and more personalized. Given this transition and transformation, and the attempt to build foundations, all while technology changes every few months, Lopez says that it’s imperative to put together a set of questions when seeking out tools.
What’s the security, scalability and the support of the solution?
What is the app management strategy?
What is the content management strategy?
How are things deployed? In the public or a private?
She believes that it will be very difficult, as the evolution continues, to find a be-it-all, end-all solution, and suggests that the answer lies in a provider with a wide ecosystem and partners.
Wrapping up the discussion as she started, Lopez spoke of the two cities and mobility as cautionary tales. “History repeats itself,” she said, “I think that, just like history, technologies tend to repeat themselves. We have an opportunity to take this technology, change and do something different with it.”