- Mobility will continue to be a huge priority for enterprises in 2012, with BYOD, mobile apps, mobile security, and tablet adoption as major themes.
- How is the supplier ecosystem responding to the needs of business customers, and what will we see from them in 2012?
2011 was a busy year for enterprise mobility, as it was the year of the tablet (or at least the iPad) explosion; BYOD support became a priority (even beyond the U.S.); there was a surge in the development of mobile applications; mobile security finally gained precedence; the availability of LTE in the U.S. became widespread enough to matter; M2M deployments grew in the automotive, utility, and health care verticals – we could go on and on. Suffice it to say that while enterprises are becoming increasingly dependent on mobile devices and applications, the supplier ecosystem (wireless operators, IT service providers, handset/tablet vendors, mobile application developers, enterprise infrastructure equipment vendors, and platform providers for TEM, MDM, mobile security, and mobile application enablement) has stepped up initiatives to generate revenues by satisfying the enterprise’s hunger for mobile solutions. So, what were some of the key service launches in 2011 among these vendors and service providers, and what do we see as their priorities for 2012?
Tablets in the Enterprise: While the iPad 2 became a popular business accessory (with a number of notable duds among Apple competitors), tablets have also been driving mobile business applications, especially in retail and health care verticals. While smartphone applications are also improving, the bigger screen makes a tablet more of a real computing device, empowering sales and marketing efforts and allowing a much more effective display of all kinds of information, including charts, medical images, and product demos. Along with the tablet revolution, there was a continuing debate in 2011 about the best way to develop and manage applications (HTML5 Web apps, vs. native apps vs. hybrid apps; enterprise-developed apps vs. outsourced development vs. mobile application platforms; behind-the-firewall app servers vs. cloud delivery). The rise of the enterprise app store was also a big theme in 2011 which will continue in 2012.
BYOD: While Current Analysis research on BYOD usage was mixed (i.e., not every company is endorsing it; in fact, companies are buying more tablets and smartphones for employees), service providers and MDM platform vendors focused strongly on ‘solving’ the BYOD ‘problem’ in 2011, with solutions ranging from secure containers, to rules and role-based device management offered as a service, to trials of dual-persona solutions to separate business and personal identities. BYOD concerns also spawned an awakening about the importance of mobile security in 2011. While security software vendors are clearly excited about this, wireless operators and IT service providers are also planning a big role in 2012 by rolling out network-based solutions that can provide a range of functionality, including authentication, identity management, AV/firewall/anti-spam, loss and theft protection, VPNs, and on-device encryption.
Keeping Telecom Expenses in Check: While TEM solutions have been available from platform vendors and their service provider partners for a long time, and they can optimize voice and data plans and show usage patterns, there were also indications in 2011 that WiFi and “FMC” solutions which can route mobile calls over wireline networks are finally gaining traction. Companies such as iPass are making the WiFi experience more consistent and readily available, so that roaming employees can save money without the hassle of finding and paying separately for access to public WiFi hotspots. Even though the EU is mandating caps for voice and data roaming charges, there is more work to be done in 2012 to ensure that international travel does not negatively affect mobile budgets.
2012 will be an even more exciting year for enterprise mobility. Enterprise requirements continue to raise the bar, and the ecosystem is striving to meet their needs with more innovative and cost-effective solutions.