Enterprise mobility I: 2012 – A recap

by Sohini Bagchi    Dec 19, 2012

enterprise mobility

In terms of enterprise mobility, 2012 was an eventful year. While on the one hand, companies saw an increase in the adoption of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, on the other, there was a surge in the development of mobile apps, mobile security solutions and mobile-centric applications and interfaces. Bring Your own Device (BYOD) also became the latest buzzword this year with many companies focusing on this trend. With so much happening in the world of enterprise mobility, one can say that the mobile revolution is already underway.

However, the irony is that although mobility has opened up newer opportunities for the enterprise, it is bringing about tremendous challenges to the CIOs and thought leaders.

In the first part of our special report on enterprise mobility, we bring to you a recap on the mobility trends, adoption and the kind of challenges enterprises and CIOs encountered in 2012.

Increased adoption of smart devices
Analysts believe that this year, the phenomenal uptake of smart devices including smartphones and tablets, mobile OS and touch-screen functionalities, among others surpassed any other in history in terms of technology adoption. As per IDC report, in the smartphone market, while Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android and Blackberry are the most preferred among enterprises, some businesses have shown an interest in Microsoft Windows mobile.

Tablets also saw a steep rise in adoption with the launch of Google Nexus7, iPad Mini, iPad 3, and Microsoft Surface. A recent IDC report indicated that over 117 million tablet PCs will be sold in 2012 worldwide and another 165 million will be purchased in 2013 with the enterprise segment driving its popularity and sales.

“However, with tablets becoming increasingly popular in the workplace, most CIOs are grappling with the challenge of corporate data security,” says technology evangelist Rishi Agarwal. He believes that with the advent of BYOD in workplace, CIOs and decision makers should have suitable mobility policies in place and ensure their proper implementation.

Rise of enterprise apps
With a tsunami of mobile devices launched this year, 2012 also saw the demand for mobile apps rising sharply. As Gartner predicted by the end of this year, smartphone users worldwide will download more than 45 billion apps, nearly twice the number of apps downloaded the previous year. Currently, Apple, Google and Microsoft dominate the global app market; with Apple accounting for the largest portion of downloads in 2012.

Gartner also predicts that these companies have and will continue to see growing competition in the app market from Facebook and Amazon. Kasturi Bhattacharjee, Director and Vertical Head – OSS, Ericsson India Global Services says: “As enterprises continue to embrace mobility in their business strategies, the importance of apps will only increase.”

However, the enterprises are looking to embrace a simpler paradigm than the ones existing in the consumer market. “As applications will not translate into touch-enabled mobile devices because most were developed for PCs, it often becomes a challenge for companies to choose between a native app and mobile Web app,” says Suresh Verma, Manager System IT, Lite Bite Foods. He believes while selecting apps, companies should understand whether they meet the objectives.

“The user demographics is also equally important for apps selection as they should have colloquial and contextual relevance,” says Ralph Simon, CEO and founder, Mobilium Global. He believes that currently, the trend is more towards hybrid apps including Mobile Web App. With improvements in HTML5 technology, enterprises are showing a lot of interest in Hybrid Apps which are expected to provide the right functionalities supported by mobile Web and native app.

Having a mobile strategy in place
With more enterprises recognizing the importance of mobility to their business, CIOs in 2012 are investing more time to evaluate the ROI and business value mobility solutions can bring to their organization. Many of them realize that it is necessary to have a long-term mobile strategy in place. Having a strategy and road map before deploying the mobility solution can bring about an increase in productivity as well as sales. However, the key challenge is strategy as most CIOs believe that crafting a strategy is not easy.

“CIOs understand the challenge involved in incorporating an enterprise mobility platform into their business strategy, but often do not know how to start,” says Vishal Anand Gupta, Jt. Project Director HIMS & Manager - Systems, CMRI. Budget seems to be an important factor besides issues with platforms, security, user interface and connectivity.

He believes most importantly the support of top management is also required in devising an effective security policy. Unless these issues are resolved, companies would be unable to devise an effective mobile strategy.

BYOD and a relook at security
Consumerization of IT already presented a challenge that encompassed social media and BYOD in 2011. In 2012, enterprises continue to face challenges in bringing devices, applications and services that cannot be fully controlled by the CIO. As a result, many firms have already started to take a fresh look at their security policies.

Although mobile device management (MDM) has found a place in the CIO’s glossary, enterprises are realizing that they look beyond MDM to secure their mobile devices.

Going forward, enterprises would look at mobile application management (MAM) and other holistic security approaches to provide secure provisioning and monitoring of both devices and applications.

Increased collaboration
The several partnerships in the mobile ecosystem in 2012 offered greater choice to CIOs in terms of mobility platforms, devices and solutions. The alliance between Microsoft and Nokia for Windows mobile OS, Google’s partnership with device manufacturers like Samsung, LG, HTC and Sony to support Android OS and some of the other tie-ups have resulted in greater flexibility from a deployment standpoint. This trend will continue in 2013 and it will greater uptake of mobility by enterprises, believe analysts.

Application development challenges, security complexities, rise in employee demands, increase in productivity and ROI – have often posed challenges for the CIOs in 2012 while deciding on the right enterprise mobility platform for their business. Although these will remain part and parcel of CIOs’ mobility strategies, Suresh Vedula, Director B2B and Enterprise sales, Nokia, believes that none of these challenges can slow down the adoption of mobility as long as enterprises understand how the business benefits significantly outweigh the risks. Therefore, technology investments on mobility will continue to increase in the coming days.

With mobility expected to change the way enterprises do business, in the next part of this article, we shall discuss the various mobility trends in 2013 and how CIOs and IT decision makers can overcome challenges and strategically unlock the potential of mobility for their business.