- It was clear at Mobile World Congress 2012 that mobility is no longer a thing, but a part of everything.
- IT should move away from mobilizing applications and recognize that all (or most) applications are mobile.
The GSMA Mobile World Congress 2012 event held last week in Barcelona was remarkable once again not only for its now-customary vastness in terms of number of attendees/exhibitors (unparalleled now, I believe, in the telecoms space), but also for its scope. No longer is this just a showcase for cellular technology and mobile networking. The event is now used by technology suppliers, software developers and service providers of all sorts to hobnob, eat tapas and chug powerful coffee. There certainly was a mobility theme for all goings on; that’s the foundation, after all. However, what is clear is that all things in IT or other walks of life must be mobile to reach their potential, or even to be relevant. So, it isn’t so much that the MWC event has expanded to embrace all walks of technology life; rather, all walks of technology life have become mobile.
This fact is not actually very new. We have been saying to technology suppliers for some time that mobility must be mainstreamed into enterprise applications, and it should not be sold as a bolted-on, extra-cost option. However, it is an observation of several network and IT SPs that I met with at MWC12 that many enterprises have yet to mainstream mobility themselves. This is not to say that the value of mobility is not realized within businesses. Indeed, the ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) issue has at its core business management support for broader, horizontal use of mobile tools as a means to increase productivity, competitiveness and employee job satisfaction.
Too often, however, the sense is that mobility is an after-thought and a separate consideration from the development of IT resources. Those selling mobility solutions find that they cannot locate the right decision-makers in IT, because the methods for mobilizing applications are managed elsewhere (in a telecoms or facilities department, for example).
This should change, quickly. Last time on this blog, I took technology and service suppliers to task for disparaging IT as the barrier to the wider-scale adoption of cloud services. This time, though, I do think the SPs and technology suppliers have a point. Mobility should be built into IT applications from the start, and with cloud services it is more likely that applications will be device-agnostic. A starting point today is mobilizing legacy apps, but the way companies buy and consume software and apps will change significantly going forward, with a fundamental assumption that users will always need or want to access that service while on a mobile network and with a variety of devices. That means making organizational changes in many cases.
It is not a matter of mobilizing IT. It is recognizing the fact that IT is mobile.