Mobility has gone from being the most hated, unwelcomed component of a CIO’s budget to being the most sought after by management, Line of Business (LOB) leaders and employees at every level. Smart phones and tablets have caused a step change in ICT philosophy, architecture and execution, let alone expectation. However, in many ways the actual ‘screens’ and their associated connectivity, aren’t the real issue. The applications environment, architecture, back-office areas and impact on business models and processes are where the mobile rubber hits the IT road. So, with players emerging from all points of the virtual ICT compass to claim the mobility high ground, how does the future eco system look? And what will be the overall impact of mobility on business going forward?
Enterprise mobility is gradually building itself up in layers to support the business. Managing the expense is, of course, a no-brainer despite roaming charges and overall tariffs coming down to more manageable levels. Managing the multiple devices from a tracking, protection and security perspective adds a more appealing layer, while the porting of applications through middleware on to the different mobile platforms provides the real IT and business value. This also allows the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) dynamic to be embraced. As the ICT infrastructure virtualises, and more and more applications and control sit somewhere on the hybrid cloud curve, the end device will merely access the application and related content in as secure way as required. Platforms will emerge as part of the new digital infrastructure to handle the mobility explosion. In many ways it is an inverse of the old inside-out model, but the IT inside now has to be way more flexible and manageable than before.
Does 4G change this picture significantly? Not really. It is always nice to have higher speeds, quicker response times ,but for most business applications a good 3G, HSDPA connection is perfectly acceptable. Ask people who use 4G what they use it for, and you will find it is video streaming that they wouldn’t normally attempt on a 3G connection.
If an organisation gets these building blocks right, it takes away the frustration felt at so many levels within a business that too many barriers have been in the way of mobilising an enterprise’s activities in the past. Yes, it needs to be secure, and yes, the company needs varying degrees of management/control over the device and what is done with it. However, these windows into the business and out to partners, channels and customers are absolutely essential to driving a digital-centric business model.
In many ways, enterprise mobility is a metaphor for the industry as a whole. The connectivity component provides an essential part of the service but it is just a part. The broader picture includes enterprise applications and the content consumed during daily business and personal lives. The orchestration and management of all of the moving parts is where the real value is driven. Hence, the key players in the future will be those providing the flexible platforms, service integration, applications management and the ability to map a business’ needs to the right flexible extended digital infrastructure.