I recently had the opportunity to attend Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona, and it provided ample evidence that communications has come a long way from the days when enterprise telecom services were the responsibility of office or traffic (the kind that drives on roads) managers, whose duties primarily consisted of signing off on their carriers’ monthly bills. As much as communications has matured and become the critical circulation system for today’s 24×7 world, mobility is quickly becoming the heart of the ‘anywhere, anytime, anybody’-connected enterprise. Telecom equipment vendors like Cisco and Avaya are competing with the likes of IT vendors like IBM and HP, as well as Internet powerhouses like Google and Amazon, along with every other Tom, Dick, and Harry (there was even a Russian mobility vendor named Wexler (no relation) at MWC).
Mobility — a.k.a. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Bring Your Own App (BYOA), Mobile Device Management (MDM), Mobile Application Management (MAM), Mobile Content Management (MCM), and Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) — isn’t growing, it’s exploding. Consider the following: by 2016 there will be 305 billion mobile app downloads (more than 4X the 70 billion in 2013); there will be 5 business apps per device, and by 2020 there will be 50 billion connected devices. Smartphones and tablet sales passed the billion mark last year; mobile enterprise infrastructure software and services are growing at a compound annual growth rate of 16.3%, and enterprise MDM software solutions are roaring along at a CAGR of 31.43% over the period 2011-2015.
A recent survey identified mobility as a top priority for the enterprise. Most (71%) believe mobility is a top priority, but 63% believe it to be the greatest factor in helping their organization gain a competitive advantage. Of the organizations surveyed, approximately half have implemented technologies to support mobile devices, with 48% using MDM and 47% using MAM.
Gartner just released a new report identifying the top 10 mobile technologies and capabilities for 2015-2016, many of which are unfamiliar to IT staff. These include new Wi-Fi standards, EMM, metrics, and monitoring tools, all of which will be the responsibility of the overworked and under-appreciated network staff.
A number of Forrester analysts offered their thoughts on what mobility means to the enterprise, including Jennifer Belissent, who has been attending Mobile World Congress since 2006. “The proliferation of connected devices, the explosion of over-the-top services and the rise of the data economy will continue to shape the industry.”
Commenting on the implications for the enterprise, Forrester’s Henning Dransfeld said the Mobile Mind shift in the enterprise boils down to delivering relevant content to the right user on the device of their choice. “The industry demonstrated visible efforts on delivering a more compelling mobile experience. But it is selling itself short of its true potential with too much debate on the complexity of the underlying technology. There needs to be far more discussion on true mobile productivity scenarios and their enablement.”
The mobile mind shift is becoming reality but it still falls short of its true potential, said Dan Bieler. “To truly achieve a mobile mind shift, business leaders must be shown the opportunities that mobility provides for closer customer engagement, more effective sales and marketing, greater employee empowerment, and of course new business areas.”
Looks like the bottom line for mobility is… the bottom line. No surprise there, but I’m sure there will be plenty of surprises as the mobile world increasingly becomes the face of enterprise communications.
Image credit: WikiMedia Commons