Mobile Enterprise - Beyond the Fundamentalspost by Chris Curran on June 14, 2011
Guest post by Dan Eckert
In my last post about going mobile in the enterprise I talked about some fundamentals for going mobile in your business. In brief, I said there were three things you should know about mobile in the enterprise as you move forward:
- Things are moving so fast that choosing a software platform is more critical than which hardware you should buy.
- Mobile innovation is no longer being driven by the enterprise; it’s being driven by the customer.
- Delivering even basic mobile capabilities requires functionality that is complimentary to what the company already offers online.
There are two more things I suggest you consider as well. These are more challenges than tips, but I think they are just as important.
Finding the talent to create mobile applications is an exercise in patience, skill and creativity
Back in the 1990s when I started building websites and managing large teams I remember having to pay newly trained, inexperienced HTML programmers $80,000 ― or, if they were contractors, over $125 per hour ― because it was difficult to find someone that had experience building websites.
Today, finding the right talent to build mobile apps is just as challenging, and just as expensive. And even after shelling out all that cash, the quality you get in return may still disappoint.
There is some good news, however. If your development teams can already create solutions using common languages such as C++, Java, and Objective C, then the talent you need may be much closer at hand and easier to engage than you think.
Building an app is actually rather straightforward for operating systems such as Android and iOS. All your team needs are the proper tools and experience.
You might want to start by funding some easy-to-build apps and building the required skill in house. It could cost you as little as $2,000 (or less) in software and hardware, plus the time of a programmer or two. If your organization is new to the game, work with a development house and use your people to augment their team so they can learn the ropes and bring the skill back to your development teams. Reward your developers with a fun project using a state of the art technology - it’s not only great for their morale, it improves your teams productivity.
As with any other new product or service, eventually the price with drop. But until then, you’ll want to position your own in-house teams for success by giving them the tools they need to play in the sandbox.
Be ready to accept technology chaos inside (and outside) your four walls. The days of technical homogeneity are over
When you travel as much as I do you can get a sense for what’s happening in the mobile enterprise. Today’s business IT players are greater in number and several are adding their names to those names that have come to dominate the enterprise IT environment over the past decade or more.
Moreover, some of the latest research and stats from credible, independent experts show mobile trends in the consumer space that are sure to have an impact on the enterprise IT:
- Smartphone sales showed strong growth worldwide in 2010. Analyst firm IDC found (in February 2011) that total shipments in 2010 were up by nearly 75% from 2009 — making smartphones about 22% of all handhelds shipped.
- Android is forecasted to become the number one smartphone operating system in 2011. Gartner estimated (in April 2011) that 38.5% of all the smartphones sold in 2011 will be powered by the Android operating system.
- The number of people around the world accessing the mobile internet is growing fast and is expected to overtake the PC as the most common way to access the Web. The ITU ― the UN’s specialized agency for information and communications technologies ― said (in February 2010) that it expects mobile Web access via laptops and smart mobile devices to overtake desktop web within the next five years.
The question: can enterprises really let so many different devices behind their firewall?
What’s more, some companies are giving employees interest-free loans for new computers they can use both inside and outside their four walls. A remote access vendor gives workers money they can spend on the PC of their choosing. And, perhaps most significantly, one of the largest national food distributors is now allowing its employees to buy their own laptops in lieu of those supplied by IT. With nearly 100,000 employees, the distributor offers a stipend and free copies of office and security software. Users are then responsible for supporting their own computers.
No matter your take, your concerns ― or your strong desire to run screaming into the mountains ― these organizations, and many more like them, are no longer focusing their energies on getting the hardware right. Instead, they have turned their attention to software and service.
The new IT organization provides the tools and infrastructure that enable the work; they don’t worry about how that work gets done. And, if they have concerns about compatibility, they standardize on a cross-platform solution. . .or one that enables the solution to be accessed via a standard browser.
This debate has yet to play itself out. But my money is on less control by the enterprise, not more. And on a greater willingness to simply allow folks the freedom to deliver results.
Have a look at PwC’s Technology Forecast for more on the mobile enterprise. Let us know what you think.