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Chris Marsh of Yankee Group on the Outlook for Enterprise Mobility in 2014

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We recently had the chance to chat with Chris Marsh, a principal analyst with Yankee Group’s enterprise research group. The discussion revolved around some of the key points from Chris’ recent webinar, “Top Enterprise Mobility Predictions for 2014.

Chris reiterates that mobility changes everything, delving into the role that applications and data will have on company policy, the challenges of managing and scaling mobile for enterprise, the implications for IT, and the value of mobile for CRM.

Lyla McInerney: You predict that the battleground in enterprise mobility will be applications and data, not devices. Can you tell us more about how you see this affecting security, compliance and policy?

Chris Marsh: The value for enterprises from mobile will come from the continued evolution of devices as the new computing platform, but where the rubber hits the road for individual enterprises will be around those applications and data used to re-envision workflows and processes as mobile-enabled. When smart mobile devices began to proliferate their way into the enterprise there was a corresponding emergence of MDM vendors and ways to lock down and control devices. This was and still is suitable as one component to secure corporate provisioned devices as long as the experience is not compromised, but it has never really gained traction for employee’s own devices due to usability issues but also employees’ privacy concerns, i.e. not wanting their employer to be able to see or fiddle with their own personal content.

Over three years ago however Yankee Group was really the first to call the shift from Mobile Device Management (MDM) to Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM). In particular, ways to assert policies over data, apps and content through capabilities like app wrapping and app management, app containerization, app VPNs, and deploying DLP measures around content are coming to be seen more. Although technically it’s a tough nut to crack we will also likely see mobile virtualization emerge as a way to stream applications to devices, again abstracting much of the security provisioning away from the device itself.

LM: Why is it important to have integrated solutions to scale mobility? Can you explain what this means and why it’s becoming so critical?

CM: All of our survey data points to a rise in the proportion of enterprises finding managing the complexity of mobile very difficult – not just a challenge, but very complex. Part of the reason for this is because as a nascent industry there are way more stand-alone point services than there are truly integrated solutions – off-the-shelf apps and 3rd party app stores, EMM services, API management tools, development tools and application platforms, analytics platforms, QA & testing tools to name but a few categories. This is alongside an already often very complicated estate of legacy enterprise IT infrastructure and services, little of which is mobile-friendly. Patching this mish-mash of solutions together creates massive cost and complexity for enterprises in integration and management, it makes it very hard to establish an ROI, it makes for inefficient workflows between employees along the mobile lifecycle and it doesn’t do anything to help unify the different company stakeholders – whether network services, IT, developers or business analysts, legal folks, or LOB project owners.

‘Integrated’ really just means covering a broader part of the mobile lifecycle from solution design and development through to deployment and management. It doesn’t and is unlikely to ever mean truly ‘end-to-end’ which has and always will be more marketing hype than deployable reality. However, consolidation is happening across some of these product categories to help reduce these stifling levels of complexity enterprises are facing in leveraging mobility to more strategic effect.

LM: What does IT need to be doing now to prepare for this shift?

CM: What mobility and the breadth of potential Internet of Things use cases are doing is pushing the value in technology enablement to the edge, to how to engage device-wielding users – whether customers, employees or partners. Core IT infrastructure will become more commoditized and so too will the role of the IT department. I am not therefore convinced by the talk of IT as a kind of centralised service broker. As an important party in decisions on the integrated solution architecture, information governance and infrastructural support, yes, and that will help set the tone of course for service procurement, but lines of business will be the ones procuring and using them and they won’t necessarily be going to IT each time for that. In other words, IT needs to get out of the way of the more user-facing departments where ideation and value creation actually happens, and they need to support a more open and extensible architecture to let those teams do that innovation.

LM: Can you explain why you’re predicting the decline of the MEAP model?

CM: I think a good way to look at where we are in the enterprise mobility landscape right now is by thinking of it as a child, still so young, but beginning to look towards its early adolescent years. One of the implications is that some early approaches that have been tried need to be cast aside. The MEAP model of very exclusively proprietary technology, binary architectures connecting to only a few data sources, and on-premise-only deployments is one of these approaches we need to collectively cast aside for the simple reason that it hasn’t worked; companies have just not found the scalability and ROI.

We did some extensive primary research amongst enterprise users of different tools and platforms last year and we concluded that to get the right ROI, platforms need to be much more open and extensible, be agnostic to front-end tools, standards and infrastructure, and have integrated application testing, analytics and performance management. We also think there will be a need for greater consolidation around these platform characteristics and API management and data orchestration capabilities.

LM: You suggest we need a process-oriented approach, rather than an application-oriented approach, in order to create a better user experience for mobile CRM. Can you explain what that means and the advantages of that?

CM: Almost since there have been mobile applications, mobile CRM has always been regarded as strategic for its ability to streamline frontline workflows and bring greater productivity to salesforce workers. And indeed in many cases this has been the case. Our surveys show that increasing customer satisfaction, increasing the lead close rate and eliminating redundant activities are enterprises’ top three sought for gains, and they are experiencing an average of 25-35% percent improvements across these key metrics by using mobile CRM. However many of these applications have just ended up being as siloed as their web counterparts, difficult to integrate with other key communications functionality and other internal and external data sources which are needed to give a fuller picture of the customer. What companies increasingly need, as mobile and SaaS applications and data proliferate, is a way to create more horizontal workflows allowing companies to bring their customer focus from the edge of their business, much more into the core of their organisation so they have better visibility and a more seamless cross-disciplinary way of serving their customers.

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Chris Marsh is a principal analyst with Yankee Group’s Enterprise Research group. He focuses on analyzing the impact of mobile, social and cloud technologies on enterprise and service provider business models. Follow him on Twitter: @ChrisMarshUK

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