The Rise of Enterprise Mobility



Change is in the air. A change that took root in bedrooms around the world and is now taking boardrooms by storm. That change is being spurred by the emergence of enterprise mobility, and while the complexities it introduces can be overwhelming for some businesses, the consequences of ignoring it completely are far more serious.


Over the last few years, worldwide spending on mobile devices has been growing at double-digit rates year on year, leaving the relatively modest growth rates of the rest of the technology market trailing in its wake. This growth is beginning to show signs of slowing down, but the implications of this powerful mobility spending wave are now coming to the fore, driving a profound transformation of business models and a rise in stakeholder expectations.


Globally, desktops remain the most popular method for accessing the Internet, but mobile access is rapidly gaining ground. And with good reason, as the devices we all take for granted today are a far cry from their previous incarnations. The first generation of smartphones mimicked the traditional PC logic, with computing power primarily on the endpoint device. For years, the priority of vendors was to build PCs smaller, faster, and with larger memory or storage, and the early smartphones followed the same approach, resembling notebooks but lacking the performance and convenience of their older siblings.



Things started to change around the mid-2000s. Fueled by the emergence of unlimited data plans and the addition of essential resources such as memory, this new generation of smartphones behaved more like terminals than standalone PCs, drawing on apps and resources running in enterprise datacenters. And with cloud applications providing very sophisticated services in real time, ably assisted by 3G and 4G connectivity, the era of true enterprise mobility was born.


Perhaps the most significant change, however, is that the rise of mobility has extended the digital day as users browse the Web or shop as they do other activities, with the incorporation of cameras, GPS, accelerometer, gyro-sensors, barometers, and biometrics ensuring the modern mobile experience is both unique and compelling for users. And crucially, the younger generation prefers mobile devices, with almost one in five "millennials" being mobile only.


The implications of all this on the enterprise IT landscape cannot be overstated. Employees now expect the same seamless user experience they enjoy at home to be replicated in the workplace, a reality that has prompted a surge in the implementation of bring-your-own-device policies by organizations around the world. And that's before we even consider the changing expectations of consumers, customers, suppliers, and partners.



As far as IT departments are concerned, mobility translates into an exponential rise in their infrastructure needs. Each smartphone is designed to draw computing resources from the enterprise infrastructure, and each new mobile device introduced in the enterprise has consequences on the cost, performance, integrity, and security of the IT environment. Traditional approaches are inadequate to support mobility as the number of apps explodes, and the development and distribution of those apps requires new skills, new processes, and new platforms.



At the same time, other forms of mobility, like wearables or computerized cars, are continuing to grow. The so-called "Internet of Things" (IoT) is also expanding very rapidly and continues to create new mobile needs. Indeed, IDC expects IoT spending to exceed $1.7 trillion in 2015 on the back of 15 billion devices. By 2020, this will have risen to $3 trillion and nearly 30 billion devices. Given this proliferation of mobile devices, users will need more sophisticated solutions to integrate all of their interactions into a consistent and real-time experience. Mobility is pervasive, and all businesses will need to adopt it as a critical part of doing business in the next decade.


For the IT department, however, mobility is just the tip of the iceberg: providing services, managing data, and enabling integration are the less visible but more significant challenges. New platforms are remarkably dynamic and unstable, and competent skills are rare. Understanding how to manage new devices, new developments, new services, and new connectivity models while transforming the enterprise infrastructure to support these new requirements is a long and difficult journey that requires close cross-functional collaboration.



The emergence of enterprise mobility proposes profound change for the way in which organizations do business, and if they are to prosper in this new world of constantly changing business needs, they must understand these new ways, assess the solutions that are available, and select, prioritize, and successfully design, develop, and implement a whole range of mobility devices, apps, solutions, and services. This voyage of discovery will certainly not be easy, but it's one that every forward-thinking business should embark on sooner rather than later, as the implications of missing the boat on this one do not bear thinking about. 


About Jyoti Lalchandani

Jyoti Lalchandani is Group Vice President and Regional Managing Director for the Middle East, Africa and Turkey at global ICT market intelligence and advisory firm International Data Corporation (IDC) . He can be contacted via Twitter @JyotiIDC


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