In 2012, there is an enormous potential for mobility to drive businesses and brands in even more strategic directions. Mobility in the enterprise has been valued as a means of streamlining business activities to enhance workforce productivity. Now, more enterprises understand that mobility will be critical to drive top line revenue growth and for developing key advantages over competitors.
Mobility has become a natural extension of virtually everyone's daily routines whether if they're at home or in the office. From reading emails and finding a spot to eat to checking inventory and closing sales, mobility will become more and more a part of everyone's daily lives in years to come.
As for next 18 months, there are several industry developments that will proliferate within enterprise organizations more so than others, based on observations as well as conversations with customers and industry peers.
Strike a Balance
This year "consumerization of IT" is already an overused phrase but it's definitely not a passing fad. More and more employees are bringing their personal smart devices into the workplace and as IDC reports, the mobile worker population passed the one billion mark in 2010 and estimates that this number will rise to make up more than a third of the world's workforce by 2013.
A survey of 750 front-line IT professionals by Dell indicates that 87 percent of respondents say employees use personal devices for work-related purposes – 80 percent use personal smartphones and 69 percent use personal PCs. Letting employees "have their way" with technology is beneficial in a sense that they know what works for them to increase productivity and help with their work.
At the same time, it's a CIO and IT manager's nightmare having to provision, support, manage, and deploy apps on a multitude of non-company-issued devices, not to mention the increase of business and security risks with corporate data and intellectual property potentially being lost with the devices. They must work closely with employees of their organizations to capitalize on the Enterprise 2.0 era because as much of a headache as it is, 43 percent of employees surveyed by Accenture are quite happy to be making their own technology decisions at work, and this number is certainly going to grow.
NEXT STEP: CIOs and IT managers will put serious thought into striking a balance between employee's mobile expectations and enterprise mobile requirements.
Giving into the Demand for More Business Apps
More and more enterprise employees are becoming increasingly dependent on their smart devices and apps on them to save time, multitask, increase efficiencies and just make life easier. We will see an increase in the demand for mobile apps in the enterprise in order for organizations to streamline business operations, drive innovation and improve the bottom line. Analyst firm Frost & Sullivan verifies that companies will continue to develop and incorporate business apps into many, if not all, aspects of the businesses to stay current and competitive, indicating that the North American market for mobile business apps will surge to $6.85 billion in 2015, from $1.76 billion in 2010.
NEXT STEP: As more employees demand business apps, companies will listen and spend a bigger chunk of their IT budgets than they did in past years to either develop them internally or purchase them from third-parties.
One of the many challenges enterprise app developers will face is deciding which OS to develop for and whether to build native apps or HTML5 web apps. There are alternative tools and frameworks available which allow developers to build apps once and run them on more than one platform but HTML5 will be the app development platform of choice for many because of its cross-device and multi-platform compatibility. Enterprise benefits of developing for HTML5 is that CIOs and IT managers can deploy their apps simply through a URL.
After deployment, they're able to quickly update the web app with feature enhancements and resolves issues without having to develop an entirely updated or different app. End-users can access the "new" app through the same URL. Instant deployment and not requiring users to download and install the app is only a few of the advantages to help enterprises speed up time-to-market for their apps and more importantly, increase ROI. This makes HTML5 a robust choice as an app development environment in 2012.
NEXT STEP: With the prevailing BYOD trend, enterprises will move towards building HTML5 web apps to mitigate the need to increase spending in order to write individual codes for the various devices, platforms and OSs in the fragmented mobile ecosystem.
Mobile App Testing and Monitoring
A fairly recent iOS Gmail App debacle – with a flood of complaints from early adopters about a bug regarding notifications which resulted in a formal apology from Google and the removal of the app from the App Store – underscores the importance of testing mobile apps prior to making them widely available and monitoring them after deployment for bugs and optimal functionality. In the enterprise environment, the process of testing and monitoring apps is even more important since app failure will result in delayed time-to-market and lost resources, including revenue, time and man-hours.
Many companies have, though some are just beginning to, recognize the importance of testing and monitoring apps, a trend that will proliferate in 2012 as the number of consumer and enterprise/business apps are expected to increase exponentially. Smartphone have already surpassed PC sales and as 2012 runs its course, we can expect an explosive number of new mobile apps and increased app usage.
NEXT STEP: For enterprise CIOs and IT managers to save valuable (and most of the time, limited) budget, Testing-as-a-Service will be seen as an alternative for "avoidable" infrastructure spending.