Enterprise Mobility Minute #3: Got an Enterprise Mobility Strategy? Go Get a New One

By Dr. Ahmed El Adl, Vice President, Global Mobile Solutions Services at SAP

Enterprise MobilityThis year, “How to create a mobility strategy?” was a hot topic – discussed at every industry conference and in every mobility publication. So with all the attention, it’s not surprising that some companies were successful in creating initial mobility strategies. Great step! But scratch the surface and you’ll see that many of those strategies aren’t really strategies at all. They’re simply a collection of initial steps taken to try to mobilize business processes.

Some companies have implemented a couple of mobile apps in different business areas. Some used a MEAP platform and introduced a Mobile Device Management solution. Others used a native SDK to implement their first apps. But how many companies have truly taken advantage of the tremendous opportunities mobile technologies offer?

As we enter 2013, it’s time to consider the major trends that are now shaping opportunity – and causing us to completely rethink our approach to mobility strategy.

1. Strategic Approaches for Leveraging Mobile Technologies

There are different approaches for leveraging mobile technologies in a sustainable and strategic way:

  • The traditional approach where a comprehensive centralized enterprise mobility strategy is created for the whole company and its relevant business areas.
  • The hybrid approach, being used by some companies, where a high-level enterprise mobility strategy is created as a framework of guidelines for the whole company. Then a detailed mobility strategy and roadmap is developed for a specific department or business area.
  • The fast emerging approach where a high-level enterprise mobility strategy is created as a framework of guidelines for the whole company – but then you take it a step further. You create your overall strategy for a specific business area or product line, but design it all upfront to leverage mobile technologies that can reshape your business or products.

Before deciding on the approach that is right for your organization, consider how quickly mobile technologies are evolving – and becoming more complex, embedding and converging with other technologies. This rate will only accelerate in 2013.

Also, consider how consumer expectations are shaping the direction of technology. Soon, it will no longer be enough to have an app on a smartphone – consumers will expect the functionality embedded in the product itself. Will your mobile strategy help you face these challenges and leverage all the new technological advances?

2. New Approaches in Mobile Apps Development

If you’ve created an initial mobile strategy, you’ve likely already answered important questions, such as: Should we acquire a mobility platform (MEAP/MDAP) or not? Do we need different platforms for B2E and B2C? Which business areas should we start with? Should we use off-the-shelf, prepackaged apps, or start building our own custom apps? Should we adopt a HTML5, native, or hybrid approach? Be aware – there are new developments that may change all of your answers.

On the platform side, the use of a separate platform for developing B2E apps versus another one for B2C or B2B is changing. In 2013, vendors who have separate platforms will integrate them into one unified platform – rather than just an installation-based integrated platform. Others, who are already providing a unified platform, will provide a cleaner integration based on partially new architecture, which will enhance performance, portability, security, and productivity.

The debate over HTML5, native, or hybrid might change or become redundant. Many of HTML5 capabilities, performance, offline usage, device hardware access, and developer tools are going to improve in the coming months. Technology companies and the developer community are strengthening HTML5’s unique capabilities such as cross-platform deployment and will continue adding more web APIs to tackle issues like hardware lockout. However, the hybrid approach will continue to be the most interesting architecture for building apps in 2013.

On the apps side, reusable Mobile Apps Development Components (MADC) will make a significant impact next year. More than just web APIs, MADC will streamline the development of generic, custom LoB and industry-specific apps with software factory style speed and precision. Only minimal effort, costs, and time will be required to build high quality bespoken mobile apps – from entry level to complex ones. Ask your developers how you can take advantage of these software engineering techniques and make it part of your mobility development guidelines.

3. Mobile Apps Procurement and Operation in the Cloud

In 2012, we witnessed a huge rise in the number of vendors offering different cloud-based mobility services using either their own MEAP/MADP platforms or a third party platform from a major vendors. The new ecosystem of mobility vendors now includes everyone from small startups to major companies such as SAP, IBM, and Amazon. Mobile cloud services now span the entire lifecycle of mobile enterprise apps – from distributed design, implementation, and testing to centralized mobility management and user support.

Based on the huge investments made in cloud infrastructure this year and its envisioned values, mobile cloud services will rapidly becomemore mature, reliable, and cost effective. Expect even more services and financially attractive offers. Leveraging this market trend as a key part of your mobility procurementand operation strategy will allow you to add reliable options and quickly lower your TCO.

4. Moving from MDM to EMM

Over the last few years the talk was about Mobile Device Management (MDM). Then, as the industry reached another level of maturity we started to talk Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM). If you are like most, your existing strategy probably focuses on how to secure the mobile device. However, it is clear that it’s not only about securing the device – it’s also about securing the content on it, and the information being transferred to and from the device. Therefore, a device-centric approach to mobility management no longer works and can be risky. Organizations must adopt a user-centric EMM strategy to increase security and reduce costs.

Another major trend worth mentioning here is the variety of data sources and types you need to collect, manage, and secure. In the past, companies operated on master and transactional data, which they collected, processed, and managed within their internal ERP systems. The sources, size, and format of the data were more or less limited and predictable. In 2013 and beyond, however, up to 90% of your valuable business data will come in a variety of formats from unstructured and social data sources. The size of the data will be big and unpredictable.

One more important consideration:  You need to ensure your EMM strategy and tools meet the standards of your industry and the special Information Privacy and Security Regulations (IPSR) of your company and region.

5. More Consumerization of IT

Many companies were taken by surprise this year by the consumerization of IT. Suddenly, employees expected their at-work mobile technologies to be more like their at-home mobile experience. Some companies were able to react quickly, adopting approaches such as BYOD combined with MDM solutions and policies – so that they could capitalize on this trend without compromising the security of their business information. Others were skeptical and stuck to old IT technology adoption roles.

So far, the major effects of IT consumerization have been user experience (UX) and BYOD. However, the consumerization of IT is expanding to the products and services you provide, as well as the processes needed to run your business.  Moving forward, you need a strategy that ensures you discover new technologies quickly and can adopt them even faster – so that you can leverage related business opportunities and avoid any surprises.

6. The Internet of Everything (IoE)

Machine to machine (M2M) communication and even collaboration is not new. However, the advances of the past year, particularly in hardware, networks, cloud, and in-memory computing (Big Data), removed major obstacles. We can now gather large amounts of data from a large number of distributed devices and sensors, then store and analyze it in the cloud and make it available for clients (humans or other machines) to consume it in different ways in real or near real-time.

Most of the technology needed to make the Internet of ‘things’ a reality already exists. In 2013, vendors will be investing aggressively to unleash the enormous business potential coming from this combination of technologies – especially since it could pave the way to a completely new generation of smart products and services. Make sure that your strategy doesn’t miss this trend – or you risk being left behind.

Finally, to get the full picture of the change ahead, you need to consider new generations of social business solutions, mobile business analytics, and new and even higher levels of user experience standards coming from innovative technologies such as augmented reality, 3D devices, smart TV (inside and outside the living room), and consumer apps.

Remember that mobility strategy should be an adaptive and continuous process. Now is the time to rethink what you’ve done so far. Don’t forget to bring along some new skills and new devices so that you’re ready for an exciting year in technology driven business transformation.

In the next Enterprise Mobility Minute Blog post we’ll discuss in detail how to update your mobile business and IT strategies in a way that will help you drive sustainable business transformation.

Follow the author on LinkedIn, Twitter: @aeladl

This post was originally appeared on the SAP Community Network and is republished here with permission.