Hey Enterprise Mobility, It's Time to Grow Up!

By Chris Marsh, Principal Analyst, Enterprise Mobility, Yankee Group — April 28, 2014

Consumerization, integration complexity and vendor consolidation has defined the enterprise mobility landscape over the past few years, creating a very challenging environment for businesses. Progress has been slow with most enterprises hesitant to invest in anything other than standalone solutions that often just end up replicating workflow silos or creating as many additional problems as they sought to solve.

At Yankee Group, we recently explored our historical survey data over the past few years to assess what exactly has changed, what has stayed the same and what this says about what enterprises need to do.

More Devices, No More Mobility
The proportion of employees using a smartphone for work has doubled since April 2010, from around 30% of all employees at that time to 60% by the end of 2013. However, the average employee is no more mobile day today than two years ago.

The overall portion of the workforce that is composed of mobile workers has changed little, and the amount of time the average employee (not a traditional dedicatedly mobile worker) spends away from his or her primary workspace in the course of a working week, remains steady at around 4%.

Core Enterprise IT Untouched
Although there is rapidly growing interest in mobility as a technological driver of business transformation, it hasn’t yet made any real impression on the core enterprise IT estate. Apple and Samsung have become more important suppliers; there has been an increase in adoption of mobility management services and an increase in the budgets for mobile applications projects.

Fundamentally, however, enterprise IT appears almost identical to how it looked two years ago—the same mix of IT suppliers of core enterprise business systems, databases, infrastructure and telecommunications services continues to consume the lion’s share of technology budgets.
 
The shift from on-premise to (non-mobile) cloud enterprise applications has so far been more transformative than the shift to mobility, which has been more of an excitable whimper than a big bang.

Holes Have Been Plugged, But Not Much More
Increasing budgets for mobile projects hasn’t, in most cases, translated to cross-disciplinary involvement in a broad company-wide strategy. The reality is that company-wide strategy (as opposed to individual line-of-business projects funded by their own budgets) still boils down to executive management mandating that devices be provisioned to groups of mobile workers, and basic policy enforcement around, for example, device usage or the black and white listing of applications usage.

Companies doing any kind of expansive strategic thinking around scale in their mobile projects are few and far between. Services such as MDM, anti-malware and VPNs have been deployed to address security concerns, but even these are seen as a stopgap with 40% of companies saying they are likely to switch from their current enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendor.
 
It is clear that while some things have shifted in the past few years, most of the fundamentals of enterprise IT and the majority of workflows have gone untouched by mobility. Yankee Group makes the following recommendations to enterprises to increase the pace of change:
 
Create a truly cross-disciplinary strategy. Until companies have a mobile strategy encompassing leadership, IT and the different lines of business, any kind of strategic progress will be stunted—procurement, best practices and architectural evolution will all occur in silos. Vendors should be cognizant of the fact that projects are increasingly company-wide and understand that, in most cases, it’s going to be a wider sell than just to IT.
 
Focus on introducing automation into the mobile lifecycle. To cost-effectively scale mobile projects, enterprises need greater automation in the various development, distribution and management workflows involved in their mobile projects. In particular, look for solutions where there is a focus around developers and non-developer teams to more effectively communicate, collaborate and share project progress.
 
Rethink the solution pecking order. Enterprises need to question whether many of the traditional solution and platform approaches that gained early successes, actually have longevity anymore. The mobile enterprise application platform (MEAP) model, for example, led the early field in bringing some scale to enterprise mobile apps. Many of these companies have now fallen by the wayside as more scalable platform solutions disrupt the industry. Vendors evidently need to realize that closed proprietary technology models aren’t going to prosper in a nascent market as enterprise look elsewhere to avoid the lock-in.

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