What to Watch for in Enterprise Mobility

By  Martha Walz — January 25, 2011

Each year, Mobile Enterprise calls upon its editorial advisory board (EAB) members to offer insights into what they see as top priorities in enterprise mobility for the year ahead. Some answers we received echo what analysts and vendors have predicted for the year, but others were all over the map.
 
In part one of this series, we examine the number-one priority for enterprises when it comes to mobile technology in 2011, whether 4G will have an impact on the enterprise in the coming year, the results of the continued consumerization of IT, who will dominate in the mobile OS war, and mobility in the cloud.
 
Stay tuned next week for part two of this series, which will look at tablets in the enterprise and security for data, devices, and networks.
 
Top enterprise mobility priorities
There were a variety of answers to the question of what the number one priority surrounding enterprise mobility in 2011, mostly revolving around security. But a few EAB members saw priorities that were more fundamental than that.
 
Patricia Smith, CIO at Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc., says that the top priority for the enterprise is using mobility as a competitive advantage. “How can the worker be more productive out of the office using mobile tools is a critical question to consider,” she says. “I think mobile applications can be critical competitive differentiators and we are only scratching the surface on how to deploy them.”
 
Andrew Seybold, principal at Andrew M. Seybold, Inc., agrees but advises enterprises not to move too quickly in their deployments. “Enterprises should concentrate on adding to their mobility capabilities but not with quantum leaps in technology investments,” he stresses. “2011 will be the first year of fierce competition for 4G services. Pricing models will change, new devices will come into the market, and enterprises will be wise to move cautiously.”
 
Sean Poccia, senior director of IS, Comag Marketing Group, believes that businesses will make mobile device management top priority. “There has been a tremendous amount of discussion on this issue through 2010,” he says. “However, there are very few standards or best practices that address mobile devices holistically at the enterprise level. The sheer numbers and variation of mobile devices will require companies of all sizes to obtain internal skills to successfully adopt and manage the growth of this computing evolution.”
 
The impact of 4G
While all the carriers are touting their 4G networks to the masses, our EAB members agree that 4G will have little impact on the enterprise in 2011.
 
“4G’s impact will be limited,” says Chris Hazelton, research director, mobile and wireless at The 451 Group. “Tiered data plans and ‘3G is good enough’ will limit adoption. Operators may resort to mandatory 4G data plans for high-end devices.”
 
“There will be a lot of pressure on enterprises to embrace 4G services,” explains Seybold. “However, companies that introduce applications that rely on the higher data speeds of 4G networks may get into trouble. For the next few years, we will rely on a combination of 4G and 3G networks around the world. Relying on 4G data speeds will end up disappointing the enterprise customer base when a 4G network is not available.”
 
Jeffrey DeSimone, IT manager at Bristol-Myers Squibb, agrees. “4G will have such minuscule coverage that I don’t see it as much of a factor,” he says. “It will be a topic of planning and discussion for the future and companies that do not begin planning for it now will be the laggards in 2013.”
 
Poccia echoes these sentiments as well. “In 2011, 4G will not have much impact,” he says. “4G will, however, play a role for those enterprises looking to refresh mobile applications or looking to expand upon the arsenal of mobile applications already in the technology stable. 4G will nurture new functionality within the design thought process that 3G did not scale to. I believe when all carriers have 4G or equivalent networks in place, perhaps in 2012, that is when the real power and benefits will become the new standard.”
 
“I think we all know that 4G as defined today is a misnomer and true 4G does not yet exist—I suspect carriers will stop calling it 4G in 2011 and re-brand it as some variant of faster mobile broadband,” says Tony Winston, senior manager of mobility solutions at American Airlines. “However, the technologies we consider to be 4G are important to the improved productivity and communications within the enterprise because of faster, more reliable speeds, and end-to-end IP. If the entire communications channel is IP-based, you can make voice an application. When you do that you can embed it into mobile applications in many creative ways. Carriers will need defined strategies on how to provide QoS in their 4G networks because video and voice need it.”
 
Brenda Lewis, principal at Transactions Marketing, agrees. “Carriers today are woefully short of broadband capacity, and that shortfall is growing daily,” she says. “Fortunately, new software…will offer relief with a tenfold bandwidth capacity increase on the handset side and attendant QoS improvement.”
 
Continued consumerization
The consumerization of IT was a hot topic in 2010 with the explosion of consumer and individual-liable devices being introduced into the enterprise. We asked the EAB if consumerization would continue to have an impact on the enterprise in 2011.
 
“Without a doubt,” says Poccia. “It’s quite simple: differentiation between enterprise technology and consumer technology is so blurred, technology leaders have no choice but to accept it and move on. Consumers are driving mobility in ways that just a few years ago most of us technology leaders would have scoffed at. Companies that, in the past, solely targeted their respective technologies to the enterprises of the world now realize that significant strength lies in the hands of the general consumer. Just make a great product that has enterprise relevance and the general public will be the advocates.”
 
“We are seeing it right now with the iPhone, Droids of the world… these were consumer- grade, consumer-focused devices that have made their way into the enterprise and continue to grow,” explains DeSimone. “Tablets will also begin to replace laptops at an amazing rate and enterprise will not be able to deny their entry into the environment much the same way the consumer cell phones made their way in. IT organizations will not be able to fight back the requests and demand for this new technology.”
 
“Employees want a single device of their choice to use all the time,” says Winston. “They do not want to check into work, change devices, and then check out and go back to their personal devices. Therefore, IT has to implement ways to separate the two. I think the leading platform vendors (RIM, Apple, Google, and Microsoft) will need to embed segregation and data protection technologies so that a single phone can have both a personal and a company persona. 
 
“The company persona should have full control of all data, files, and communication within that realm and ensure that it does not extend into your personal space,” he continues. “IT benefits in the reduction of capital expense for devices, the cost of data plans, and support, and employees benefit by having the best of both worlds on a single device that they are familiar with.”
 
Hazelton agrees. “Enterprises will adopt flexible mobile device management tools to manage multi-device environments,” he says.
 
Smith believes consumerization will move beyond the devices and expand to applications as well. “I think the applications being developed for the consumer will be demanded in the enterprise,” she explains. “I think the under-23-year-olds coming into the workforce will continue to push consumer mobility tools that are commonplace for them.”
 
“Consumerization of IT will continue to pose many challenges,” says Seybold. “Among these are how IT professionals will manage a mixed fleet of devices, ensure each application on each device is the latest version, remotely wipe lost or stolen devices, and maintain the security of the information moving between the enterprise and the devices.”
 
Lewis has a different take on consumerization. “The continuing penetration of consumer devices enabled for gaming, video chat, live streaming, and other bandwidth hogs onto the wireless carrier networks will increasingly degrade carrier network performance and impede the mobility applications of enterprise,” she explains. “Increased dropped calls and deteriorating service quality will lead to pressure on the carriers from enterprise to arrive at tiered and time-sensitive pricing in addition to volume sensitivity, much like electric utilities. But in the interim, more firms will deploy hybrid cellular/satellite phones for business continuity programs and more will shift to low cost (Wildblue–type) satellite transmission as it becomes available in new geographic areas.”
 
The mobile OS war – who wins?
When asked about which mobile OS will come out on top, we received an array of answers—some definitive and some speculative.
 
“ANDROID,” says DeSimone.
 
“Android will continue to gain significant share from Nokia and BlackBerry,
 agrees Hazelton. “In the U.S., Android will exceed Apple and RIM.”
 
“Tough call,” says Smith. “I think Apple will continue to lead the innovations.”
 
Poccia disagrees. “Apple OS is out,” he says, “Android, Windows 7, BlackBerry OS and potentially Palm OSes are in!”
 
Pressed on which of those OSes would win out, he says, “I may have to place my faith in BlackBerry. If the PlayBook lives up to the hype, we may have an early frontrunner. If it falls short, then Windows Phone 7 will be the champ for 2011, as it relates to market saturation.”
 
“RIM will continue to lose share but at a slower rate to Apple because of the new QNX operating system,” says Lewis. “Nokia will continue to lose share and may use Microsoft OS for U.S. phones rather than Symbian. Not sure what will happen to Windows Phone 7, it’s too soon to know. HP should not be counted out with Palm’s Web OS 2.0, especially on a tablet, which it can distribute through its huge installed base and back with an outstanding support organization. Android will continue to gain ground in the consumer market, but is unlikely to penetrate enterprise.”
 
Seybold doesn’t believe there will be one clear winner. “The short answer is no one,” he says. “The longer answer is that there are two categories of OS war: one for consumer-only devices and one for enterprise/consumer applications. RIM will clearly remain the victor in the enterprise segment for 2011, but Apple will make steady gains. Android will be a distant third, and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 is an unknown at this time.”
 
“I don’t think we will have a clear winner in 2011 and I believe the war has really just begun,” agrees Winston. “Android is clearly growing, but it lacks the same enterprise management features that have limited the iPhone adoption in the enterprise. We are beginning to see companies allow these platforms into the enterprise more and more, but we still have not solved the enterprise management challenges.”
 
“RIM still has the strongest platform for enterprise management and security,” he continues. “The PlayBook release in Q1 2011 will be a game-changer as employees will have immediate access to the most secure enterprise platform in a tablet form factor with no additional infrastructure costs to the business.”
 
“The Windows [Phone] 7 OS is also an interesting enterprise play,” he says. “It provides the collaborative features that employees desire: the abilities to create/edit and consume/edit Office and SharePoint documents on a mobile device. The OS is designed from the ground up with complete integration to the back office, which for most companies is all Microsoft. They are saying Windows Phone 7 may be too little, too late for Microsoft. I do not agree and think Windows [Phone] 7 will have a strong presence as an enterprise device because of its integration to the back office and will further segment the mobile OS market.”
 
Integration between smartphones and tablets is another consideration for Winston in determining the top mobile OS. “I don’t think the mobile OS vendors have fully vetted their OS strategies,” he says. “So it will be hard to define a clear winner until Google—with Chrome and Android—and RIM—with the QNX OS and BlackBerry OS6—figure out what they will do. They both will need to have a single [mobile] OS for their tablets and their smartphones.”
 
To the cloud?
Will enterprises embrace the cloud in 2011? Most of the EAB members said yes, but there were some dissenting voices.
 
“I think some of the hype currently associated with cloud computing will die down,” says Smith.
 
“Cloud-based mobile device management will take hold as companies want to make it an operating expense rather than a capital investment,” says Hazelton.
 
“Secure cloud applications will dramatically increase productivity, especially in allowing legacy systems to interoperate with Web-compliant applications,” says Lewis. “Everything old is new again. This is time-sharing in the sky. However, security will be the key.”
 
Poccia believes the cloud will have a significant impact on the enterprise. “The ‘cloud’ is an enabler that will provide enterprises the ability to develop, deploy, and retire mobile applications more rapidly than ever before,” he explains. “The scalable nature and flexible ‘consume-as-you-go’ model offers an affordable platform that can reduce capital costs and minimize risks that are inherent to on-premise solutions that often accompany new technologies. More importantly, it allows technology leaders to spend more time with the business in lieu of trying to solve sustainable infrastructure headaches.”
 
For DeSimone, it comes down to cost. “Affordability, affordability, affordability, did I mention affordability?” he says. “Companies large and small will be looking toward the pay-as-you-go model and begin to expand into areas they previously never thought they could because of the cost factor, accessibility, and ease of use. Small companies will have the ability to ‘rent’ supercomputing abilities on an hourly basis, without the costs associated with purchasing and supporting the infrastructure.”
“I think the cloud is a key driver for enterprise mobility,” agrees Winston. “For example, virtualization technologies now allow IT departments to provide support anywhere. Improved device form factors now increase the demands for access, and cloud computing and virtualization technologies will better enable the need for anytime access. I think in 2011 businesses will leverage the cloud to start to truly mobilize the business.”
 
“My answer is probably different from most since I do not trust either the cloud or the Internet to provide mission-critical services,” explains Seybold. “The cloud does have a place in the enterprise mobility solution when viewed as a place to store shared information that is not confidential in nature and to store it somewhere else for safekeeping.
 
“I am deeply concerned about the increasing demand for bandwidth,” he continues. “Consumers are using streaming video and access to other large files, so I divide the cloud between the actual information stored in it that might be susceptible to hacking and access to the cloud over wired or wireless services that may not always be available. The smart approach is to provide each enterprise employee with a device that can hold all of the data and information s/he needs for a given day or week and perhaps augment it with cloud or enterprise access. Devices that are reliant solely on the cloud for information will disappoint field workers from time to time and could cost time and money.”
 
Conclusions
“2011 will be an interesting year for enterprise,” summarizes Seybold. “Broadband pricing models will change as data demand continues to grow. Many new products will be coming into the market to support the transition to 4G networks, and many enterprises will find that integrating their LAN and wireless voice services makes sense and saves money.”
 
Unified communications and M2M are some of the interesting things that our EAB members expect to see in the year ahead.
 
“All forms of communications—voice and data, wired and wireless—will continue to converge during 2011 but it will be another couple of years before the technologies to enable this vision are time-tested and reliable enough to trust your corporate information assets to them,” says Seybold.
 
“Enterprises will start to investigate and pilot IT technologies which exploit machine-to-machine (M2M) opportunities,” says Winston. “Increased wireless broadband, end-to-end IP on wireless, and more powerful PDAs and new tablets have created more opportunities for M2M. I think the ideas will flow and enterprise M2M will begin to get traction late 2011.”
 
Be sure to come back next week for the EAB’s thoughts on tablets—the darling of 2011—and what to expect with all things security, from data to devices to networks.

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