I have been in enterprise mobility for over a decade now, and am beginning to feel like an elder statesman. It’s cold outside here in Boise, Idaho. I’ve got a hot Starbucks mocha next to me, my warm slippers are on and my dogs are asleep at my feet. It feels like a good time to exchange stories about deploying mobile solutions in distant lands, and sharing adventurous and humorous stories, but let’s hold that to another time when we are face to face. Today, let me share where I see enterprise mobility as of January 2011.
1) The mobility platform conversation is right. The right topics are being discussed in the community. The right problems are being solved. The right kinds of technologies are being debated. I have faith that the free market, competition and funding is available to deliver mobile platform improvements going forward. I saw that Insight Ventures just put $19.1 million into mobile platform start-up Kony Solutions last week (read more). The market finally appreciates the need for mobile platforms. This is good for all of us.
2) Mobile application design, development and deployment systems are adequate for massive and disruptive adoption. Apple’s App Store celebrated their 10 billionth download last week. Here is an excerpt from InformationWeek – The statistics for Apple’s App Store are staggering. Apple claims that there are 160 million users of iOS devices. That means the average customer has downloaded about 62 applications. At the current rate, iOS users are downloading 206 apps every second, 12,360 per minute, 741,600 per hour, and 17.8 million apps per day. We have great success models that are proven for marketing, selling and delivering mobile solutions. These processes and solutions remove some of the biggest inefficiencies the enterprise mobility market has suffered from over the past decade.
3) Funding sources are interested and eager to invest in mobility and social media. I have been reading a lot lately about the large amount of investments VCs and others are making in social media, and we all know that social media is benefiting from and growing in parallel to mobility. These investments foretell many new innovations and new resources for us all.
4) Mobility experts and enterprises have accepted that companies must support all the major mobile devices and operating systems, and even their employees’ personal smartphones and tablets. This means having a good mobility platform and an MDM (mobile device management) solution in place are critical. I remember a few years back when Sybase could barely sell Afaria because companies did not feel they needed MDM, but today it is mission critical. This trend also makes Terry Stepien (president of Sybase/iAnywhere) and John Chen, president of Sybase look like geniuses for recognizing the value of mobile platforms and MDM early on.
5) Once a good mobile platform and an MDM are in place in the enterprise, the focus for mobility will change to the individual. The individual position or role will need specific tools, mobile apps, access to backoffice systems and data to fulfill their specific roles and responsibilities. The user becomes the center of the mobility universe and the ROI becomes role based. How can this position or role best optimize their performance using mobile solutions? What do they need? IMPORTANT! This is the area where third party mobility vendors can really add value to the SAP or other ERP ecosystems.
6) Integrating location-based services (LBS) with everything. In addition to marketing and retailing, any work that is performed in remote locations, on routes, involves delivering products or services to customers, or in mobile environments will benefit from LBS. LBS is an area that will become more and more important to companies. Geospatial information systems (GIS) and LBS provide valuable views and perspectives that are very difficult to achieve without.
7) There is a deserved emphasis by SAP and others on mobile business intelligence (BI). The use of in memory computing for near real time business intelligence that can be shared with mobile devices in mobile environments can be revolutionary. Combine a user centric mobile application approach with mobile BI and LBS, and I can image amazing productivity gains. I am very excited to see the innovations that will be forthcoming from this area.
8) Context aware mobile solutions are only starting to be thought through but promise incredible productivity gains. Imagine that your mobile application recognizes, based on your calendar and location, that you will be visiting a customer. As a result of this recognition, the mobile application queries back office BI, CRM and other systems to provide you with a complete and updated profile of the customer. All of this is done automatically because your mobile application understands the “context” of your actions and movements.
9) Mobile money, mobile payments, mobile banking and more. I have already stopped carrying family photos in my wallet. Why would I carry them when I have 1,400 family photos on my iPhone? Why would I carry a Starbuck’s card, when I can pay for my Mocha at Starbucks with my iPhone? The same holds true for nearly all other purchases. Yes, there are many security issues and privacy concerns that need to be resolved, but that is why we surround ourselves with smart people. I have faith that these issues will be worked out. Once they are worked out satisfactorily, I can imagine all kinds of mobile applications will benefit from the ability to manage business transactions on them.
10) One of the hardest tasks of business owners, supervisors and managers is to remotely manage work and workers. Holding staff accountable and compliant to safety regulations, government regulations, legal requirements, customer SLAs (service level agreements), quality work, best practices and company policies is a huge challenge. I believe there is an entire new category of mobile applications, workflows and media that can contribute to solving this challenge as well.
What do you think? What would you add to this list?