Mobile Enterprise - Beyond the Fundamentals

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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:

  1. Things are moving so fast that choosing a software platform is more critical than which hardware you should buy.
  2. Mobile innovation is no longer being driven by the enterprise; it’s being driven by the customer.
  3. 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:

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.

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  • Eric Blum, BMC CTO EMEA

    Unfortunately, expectations from users and business stakeholders don’t change when coming to QoS, Data Protection, and Regulation Compliancy, whilst requiring the benefits of mobility and new devices now.
    If the days of Infrastructure homogeneity are definitely over, the days of Service Industrialization from Planning to Operation and Value Realization are now!
    Corporate IT must become a Service Broker, with high agility, competitive cost, and guarantee to Regulation Compliancy.

    Eric Blum

    • Daniel Eckert

      Eric - I totally agree! What we are seeing in organizations that have accepted this premise is they no longer focus on hardware - they focus on security (access) to their applications and content. They focus on the service they provide (and build it in a way that can be consumed on most devices) - but the first thing they do is fix their security infrastructure to support it. 

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