There’s no escaping it, the enterprise has well and truly entered the mobile age.
With IDC forecasting more than 300 million enterprise smartphone users by the end of 2014, and Citrix suggesting the number of devices managed in the enterprise increased 72 per cent from 2014 to 2015 , the sheer volume of business users turning to smartphones and tablets for work has made the technology mainstream.
Yet it’s astounding how many companies I speak to that still don’t have a clearly defined strategy for their mobile users. Many can see the importance of mobile platforms, and acknowledge the benefits of developing dedicated apps either internally for their users or externally for their customers and suppliers, but few have taken a holistic view of their mobile strategy as it relates to their current and future business.
For all its ubiquity, mobilility in the workplace is a still considered by some to be a confused melting pot of platforms and devices, even though the technology has gone well beyond the point of market maturity. In reality, the downside of not moving quickly to ensure a smooth transition to enterprise mobility – for companies that have not yet done so – is far higher than for those not willing to take the risk.
A solid enterprise mobility management (EMM) strategy is critical to overcoming some of the fear, uncertainty and doubt that has lead so many companies to rushing their mobility investments. A recent study conducted by IBM Security and the Ponemon Institute in the U.S. even suggests that this ‘rush to release’ mentality has led up to 40 per cent of large companies to release apps with unsecured code.
Security, after all, has traditionally been the so-called Achilles’ heel of mobility in the enterprise, especially since the steady decline of Blackberry over the past few years has signaled the end of the era of locked corporate devices as the mainstay of enterprise mobility.
Today the market is clearly split across three dominant mobile platforms: iOS (still the leading enterprise mobility platform worldwide), Android (rapidly gaining market share and dominating iOS in consumer markets, primarily through Samsung), and Windows Phone (soon to be boosted by the release of the mobility-centric Windows 10 platform). EMM as a discipline has, to some degree, evolved in response to managing access and security for devices using these three platforms, since to date there is no dedicated server solution that manages all three.
1. IDC “Worldwide Business Use Smartphone 2013-2017 Forecast Update”
2. Citrix (https://www.citrix.com/articles-and-insights/workforce-mobility/jun-2015/7-enterprise-mobility-statistics-you-should-know.html)
Leading EMM solutions agnostically secure and manage any device – whether it’s company issued or personally owned – that needs to access corporate resources such as email, Internet via the company portal, and remote security for content, applications and document management. Possibly the best starting point to defining an EMM strategy would be choosing between these solutions (namely MobileIron, AirWatch and XenMobile according to Gartner’s latest Magic Quadrant), based on your specific business requirements.
Once secure, your mobility strategy will quickly move to the next and most important step: the app. Apps are the drivers of smartphone use in the home and in the workplace. They define the user experience, which in turn engenders loyalty to a given device or platform. Many users choose their platforms based on the apps they want to run, which should itself flag the importance of designing and maintaining a powerful, attractive and versatile mobile app as the centre of your EMM strategy.
Unfortunately this is the fork in the road that so many companies misread. I’ve already mentioned the ‘rush to release’ mentality that’s still so prevalent in the modern enterprise. This is often compounded by a complete lack of synchronicity between a dedicated mobility strategy and the business itself. After all, how can you expect to create a make-or-break mobile app if you don’t know your day-to-day business pain points, or where you need to increase sales or improve efficiencies or sharpen staff performance? How can you develop an app if you aren’t sure how it will help you improve your business?
Like anything else in this world, there’s no substitute for experience. That’s why partnering with people that have experience in developing and implementing enterprise mobility strategies that produce apps with measurable business impact is, above all else, the answer to the question I posed at the top of this article.
This assumes, of course, that your partner is OS-independent and device agnostic, because developing native apps for smartphones and tablets (yes, there’s a difference between the two) is an expensive exercise you don’t want to get wrong by limiting your users’ and customers’ choices. It also assumes your partner is already using industry-standard development tools, including a recognised EMM platform, and has a decent track record with other companies in your area or industry – even if it’s with your competitors – because the proof of this pudding is ultimately its return on investment.
Based on this advice your only strategy may well be to meet with someone who knows strategy, and take it from there. If my company doesn’t have an EMM strategy, or if the strategy I have isn’t delivering, that’s what I would do.
DVT (www.dvt.co.za) provides tailor-made software solutions and related professional services to clients throughout South Africa. DVT’s technology solutions include .Net and Java, enterprise mobility and data & analytics. Its range of professional services include project management, business analysis, business process analysis, software quality assurance as well as Agile consulting and training. DVT’s product based solutions include Agile team management (Axosoft and Rally), performance testing (NeoLoad) and practice management (Thomson Elite). www.dvt.co.za