Why the enterprise struggle with Mobility isn’t about Mobile Technology

ID-1005998When a technology trend becomes so mainstream it pervades every aspect of personal and business life it can be difficult to see what the enterprise needs from the technology and also to predict what is likely to happen in 2014 and beyond. What we do know is the current mobility issues facing Enterprise IT are not exclusive to mobile technology.

I have been looking at recent announcements, research[i] and trends relating to mobile technology and assessing the impact to the enterprise. In doing so I will consider common problems facing the enterprise e.g. replacing Blackberry, moving to BYO, delivering applications to Employees (B2E) and Customers (B2C) and navigating your company attitude to risk.  I’ll look at how mainstream technology is or isn’t being adapted to address these problems in the enterprise and give a few pointers to putting together a strategy.

When researching this article I considered whom the audience would be in the enterprise and there is a lot of effort and experience being put into Mobile planning. I decided therefore not to go into too much detail on how you may wish to approach putting together a mobile strategy or roadmap, I will do so in my upcoming Strategy 101 post, but a few things to think about that I have picked up;

  • Understand your enterprise use cases  (who are your users and what do they want?)
  • Murphy law – do you always seem to start in the wrong place?  (Conduct current state analyses what state are you in now?) 
  • Understand your appetite for change and risk (does your organisation prefer roller coasters, 6 lane highways or toll gates?)

In talking with many enterprise planners these are the main problems facing them and consuming their days;

Problem 1 – How and when do you move away from Blackberry? How long will it take?

Macro trends as Gartner observed[ii] indicate Mobile is still in the top four strategic IT initiatives amongst CIO’s. “These four initiatives are so strategic to the business, and yet so disruptive to IT, that many IT organizations require more than 24 months to complete them.” 24 months is not unusual but consider this represents 4-6 cycles of consumer technology.

How to do this when the organization does not often fully understand what exactly they want or where to start?  The first question to ask is;

  • What ownership model? In a straight replacement of Blackberry, this will often mean corporate owned (CO) devices, carrier plans and applications. However you really have to consider what device to select[iii] and how to protect against bill inflation[iv].  With a fully CO model concerns about data protection and consumption of personal apps is less of an issue – do you make it personally enabled is your next decision.
  • Moving to personal owned devices or plans (BYO) is a more complex issue. A device used for business and personal data storage, network access, application deployment and support creates some complex issues. Much has been written about BYOx but it is clear the market place is in a state of turmoil. As an example, there are over 125 Mobile Device Management (MDM) vendors in the marketplace, strategic alliances, purchases and merger and acquisitions[v] taking place on a weekly basis. Further more employees do not want MDM on their personal devices.

The when question is somewhat harder to predict. With a rapidly changing supply market and further consolidation expected it is inevitable that a two phase strategy of 1. Prolonging the blackberry estate life and 2. Testing and defining a set of replacement mobility products and services should begin immediately.

The how long question depends on many factors, but one large UK bank has 24 months to migrate tens of thousands of blackberry users to alternatives. Long timeframes will not be un-common as the policy and security considerations for customer data within these companies is onerous. However, the mismatch between current enterprises tech lifecycles (24-36 months) and consumerisation are simply too high for enterprise policy to remain so restrictive.

Problem 2 – How to deliver applications to Employees (B2E) and Customers (B2C) on mobile platforms

Having considered the model, making a decision on devices, platforms and ecosystems will be the steps – but one of the forgotten challenges is how to effectively deploy applications and how this will work for customers (B2C) and employees (B2E). The employee B2E problem is starting to see many approaches with container or app management stores that need enterprise owners to wrap their app some examples are citrix worx enabled, Aruba’s workspace, Good for enterprise, and some enterprise approaches such as Barclays MyZone.

Problem 3 – Plain old telephone

Somewhere along the line the telephone became quite important for BYO, the following issues surface when an enterprise moves from a CO to BYO model.

  • Who is going to pay for all my calls especially when roaming?
  • I don’t want to use my personal number for business.
  • How do you cope with recording regulated users

Expenses policy and tools from carriers and enterprise help the first point but the other issues are emerging.   Enterprise OTT voice plays help with telephony identity, a large bank has deployed thousands of SIP soft clients that sit in a corporate container, extending the life of their PBX. Split VPN’s and private APN’s (if devices support them) are another work around to segregate personal and business data and voice.

Problem 4 – Risk vs. Reward – Assessing your organisations appetite to risk

This is a battle of 3 competing forces, data confidentiality, productivity and cost. The wider BYOx movement is primarily about the later 2 forces the 1st one. One thing is certain, if you ask your Chief risk officer directly he will tell you 1 is the top priority. The advice here is to 1) Ensure you have a Stakeholder management structure in place with a high level steering group including IT and the business 2) Have experts focusing on B2E and B2C – potentially with different time goals (i.e. place longer bets around B2E) 3) Profile your use cases – you may end up with vastly different risk profiles especially in highly regulated industries like Financial services.

In Summary

  1. The Global Services players are coming – but how long can you wait.  Expect to see a lot more consolidation in the enterprise mobility space in 2014. Companies such as HP, IBM, Oracle and SAP have made sizeable investments in the mobility space and while it will take them a while to get their houses in order expect to see more acquisition and demand in 2014.
  2. Can you even pick a supported device? Even if you can you need to consider the entire device ecosystem?  A question that applies across the personal and business angles of mobility. But the ecosystems are becoming deeper and deeper, choose your device, appstore, dev framework, cloud storage, file management, network?  Consider file management as well as data management.
  3. Analysts are predicting the current generation of containers to be tactical purchases; will we start to see dominant vendors? Enterprise self build or standards based containers (e.g. HTML5) any time soon?  Not before 2015 is my prediction.  Gartner also state[vi]By 2016, 20% of enterprise BYOD programs will fail due to enterprise deployment of mobile device management measures that are too restrictive.”

  4. One size does not fit all. Many of the enterprise mobile planners I’ve talked to see at least 2 user groups, productivity workers (the majority) and regulated users (the minority)




[i] Research source include Gartner, Yankee Group, Ovum

[ii] 2014 Planning Guide for Mobility: The Revolution Is Gaining Steam – Paul DeBeasi, October 2013

[iii] This is a device ecosystem rather than a pure device choice.

[iv] Prior to Blackberry 10, the blackberry ecosystem used network bandwidth more efficiently than many other smartphone ecosystems.

[v] MDM Magic quadrant in June 2013 highlighted Airwatch, MobileIron, Good, Fibrelink, Citrix and SAP.  At least 2 of those companies Citrix and SAP are there on the strength of their acquisitions in 2012/13. But the news of IBM acquisition of Fibrelink and the rumours of Airwatch bidding for some or all of Blackberry’s business.

[vi] Reference Gartner Predict 2014:  Mobile and Wireless


About beyondmobile.ltd

Blog Site for Jason Boud and Beyond Mobile Ltd.
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