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With the holiday season in full swing, it’s clear that mobile computing devices are at the top of many gift lists. That means that come January a lot of these devices are going to find their way on to corporate networks.

That clearly represents a boon for solution providers in terms of new opportunities because the folks that manage those networks are going to be looking for some help to manage all those devices. Unlike previous seasons where Apple clearly dominated the mobile computing landscape, this year, there will be a plethora of Google Android and Microsoft Windows devices also being attached to those networks.

But  a recent survey by virtual computing specialist Citrix of senior IT executives found that while way more than half said they had a formal mobile strategy in place or would have one in the next six months, only about a quarter recognized that mobile has the potential to transform their business.

Separately, a survey of CIOs in the U.S. and the United Kingdom conducted by Mobile Helix, a provider of a framework for making Web applications accessible to mobile computing devices, finds that many CIOs are having difficulty getting funding for mobile computing projects.

According to Mobile Helix President Matt Bancroft, the fundamental issue may be that as of yet not enough organizations really understand how strategic mobile is in terms of both productivity and, perhaps more importantly, their ability to engage customers.

What’s unclear at the moment is whether mobile computing is happening to organizations or if it is an actual IT strategy they are implementing. From solution providers’ perspective, the difference is critical. Organizations that are driving a mobile computing strategy are on a multi-year journey that will affect everything from how IT is managed to the way applications are built.

In contrast, organizations that are primarily focused on giving employees access to files and email from a mobile computing device are simply reacting to a macro computing trend that is beyond their ability to control. Over time, their use of mobile computing will mature. But for the time being, they don’t represent a major opportunity for solution providers in a world where the delivery of basic mobile computing services is dominated by telecommunications carriers.

Of course, solution providers could hasten the rise of the mobile enterprise by building some fairly simple applications that shine a spotlight on the real business potential of mobile computing. Once most customers see that potential, there will be no stopping them, and before anyone realizes, they’re reinventing their entire environment in a way that creates a mobile computing gift for solution providers that will keep on giving for years to come. Happy Holidays!

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.