iPhone to Windows Phone 7: Top Enterprise Mobility Trends

By Leah Gabriel Nurik

What’s hot in enterprise mobility? Channel Insider sat down with mobile market guru and senior vice president at top-tier analyst firm Yankee Group, Gene Signorini, to get his take on the changing mobile landscape. The result is the top nine enterprise mobility trends to watch and weave into your go-to-market strategy and future outlook. Take a look.

Trend #1 The Consumerization of IT

Times sure have changed. Instead of dictating (and demanding) which devices employees can use, enterprises are looking to their employees for these tough decisions.

"Employees are having a significant impact on decisions around mobile technologies," says Signorini. Why? Smart phones are now mainstream, and everybody is buying their own. Supporting an employee’s chosen device means major costs cuts for enterprise purchasing, and increased productivity—and profitability—through the always-on and always-reachable employee.

Trend #2 Smart Phone Diversity and Popularity

Signorini says enterprises are being forced consider alternative operating systems with smart phone adoption at the highest it has ever been.

"The expansion number of smart phones in the enterprise and the diversity of operating systems in the enterprise means we’ve transitioned to an eclectic mix," said SIgnorini.

A mix of what, you may ask? From the newly unveiled BlackBerry Torch and the Droid X to the forthcoming and much buzzed about Windows Phone Series 7, individual choice, need and form factor are driving demand. That means enterprises have little choice but to offer multiple device support if they want to extend productivity and collaboration to the mobile channel.

Trend #3 Is Android an enterprise game changer?

Google’s been lagging in enterprise fans, from the direct-IT buyer to resellers and enterprise application providers currently delaying Android support into 2011. Regardless, Signorini says Android is making its way into the enterprise, sooner rather than later.

"I think the Android influx will start heavily within the next 6 months," says Signorini. "It is unavoidable."

Signorini says the consumerization of IT makes Android in the enterprise a must.

"Enterprises are accepting lesser security requirements," says Signorini. "Diversity of operating systems, that’s a reality. Individuals want these devices. Now, it’s up to the enterprise to minimize the risk and take advantage of new technologies."

Trend #4 Policy and Mobility Management

With adoption increasing daily, mobile management can become an unruly and expensive proposition for the enterprise.

"Enterprises are looking at taking a new approach to their mobile policies for purchasing and expensing," said Signorini. Companies are asking themselves about the cost-effectiveness of handling it internally or outsourcing all or parts of mobility.

Who gets the mobility business? The field is wide open and the opportunity is huge, software players like Good Technology, smaller MSPs, resellers and carriers are serving-up solutions and billing options for the enterprise.

Trend #5 Killer Apps Beyond Email

The applications and possibilities are endless when it comes to mobile. The enterprise needs to figure out the best option for development and deployment for the next wave of apps beyond email. According to Signorini, 40 percent of workers can be considered mobile, which translates to a lot of devices and productivity application opportunities.  

"Device diversity is finally here, and email is becoming a baseline," says SIgnorini. "Now that you have that, what’s next?  We’ve seen tens of thousands of applications developed for the smart phone, but the enterprise has to think about how I create enterprise applications for the smart phone. Do I purchase them off the shelf from carriers? Do I build them myself? What’s the right answer? There are a multitude of approaches."

And, that need can be filled by a multitude of vendors, from carriers, MSPS, and resellers with solid ISV partnerships, and big application suite vendors like Oracle or SAP, fueled by its recent acquisition of mobile giant Sybase.

Trend #6 Mainstream BtoC Mobility

Enterprise mobile applications used to be about Business-to-employee or "BtoE" solutions like field service, direct store delivery and asset tracking. Signorini says the next wave of mass adoption is in Mobile BtoC (Business to Consumer).

"Now, it’s increasingly what can we create for customers and how do we interact with our customers? Mobile becomes a new channel to reach the customer," says SIgnorini.  He predicts that BtoC applications will outpace BtoE deployments in the next 12 to 24 months.

So, what are the hot B2C areas? Signorini says finance and mobile banking are becoming the status quo. Platform players like Antenna Software, who bought mobile banking ISV Vaultus, as well as SAP/Sybase can bring platforms and architecture that allow enterprises to have a 360 degree view of mobility. And, after that any enterprise audience becomes a target, including partners, vendors and distributors.

Trend #7 Embedded Devices

Today, mobile doesn’t just mean the handset and the laptop, it means a host of other devices with embedded wireless WAN connectivity.  The opportunities are endless for both enterprise and consumer use. From utility meters to e-Readers, embedded devices provide additional revenue opportunities to stay in touch with a customer and increase efficiency of mobile business processes, says Signorini.

Trend #8 Innovative Form Factors

The iPad burst on the scene, upsetting the device landscape, but Signorini says the iPad is not the last and predicts new mobile form factors to challenge the current device landscape.

"The iPad is interesting, we’ve already seen enterprises experiment with it," says Signorini. "The form factor has intrigued line of business and IT decision makers because it offers a completely new way to interact for its users."

Sure, enterprises still need to figure out what these form factors mean for their business, but Signorini says the PC-centric world is changing, and "the mold is broken." So, what’s next? Signorini says the iPad is only the beginning,  and more form factors are on the horizon.

Trend #9 Microsoft’s Mobile Future

With devices running Windows Phone Series 7 just a few months away, what role will Microsoft play in the future of enterprise mobility? Microsoft has lost a ton of market share because of its perpetual delays and stop-gap Windows Mobile releases, but Signorini says Redmond’s attempt at a comeback has potential, even though serious challenges remain.

"The downside is competitors have been so successful, it’s going to be tough for Microsoft to regain credibility in the marketplace," says Signorini.  "But, the upside is that this market moves so quickly, and innovation happens so fast, there is always an opportunity to regain share."

For success, Signorini says Microsoft needs to "reimagine things from the ground up." Pointing to Apple and RIM as examples, Signorini says that success is a device that people are using in a new and innovative way. What about Windows Phone Series 7?  Signorini says, although a step in the right direction, by the time it is launched, Windows Phone Series 7 may already be behind competitors like iPhone and Android.


This article was originally published on 2010-08-24