In the past several months I have interviewed 15 mobility experts from Australia, Finland, Germany, Sweden, USA, Canada and the UK. I asked each of these experts what were the biggest challenges they were seeing in the enterprise mobility market. They answered.
If you are preparing to mobilize your SAP system, I believe understanding the challenges upfront will help you think through them and be prepared to address them.
Kimmo Jarvinsivu, Newelo: Usability and integration. If your end-users are not happy about the mobilisation possibility, they are not going to use it. And if you can’t integrate (and change integration) easily, your information systems will not be up-to-date and information in those is useless. From the corporate point of view, it is important to take into account the fragmented situation in the mobile device market. Corporates need to use existing mobile devices (both personal and corporate owned), but also be prepared for the future (new devices).
Jack Chawla, SAP: In enterprise mobility, we need to make it easier for developers to write mobile apps without having to worry about enterprise security, scalability, data sync, device support, etc. Enterprise developers should be able to write apps as easily as consumer app developers.
Malachy Martin, AMT-Sybex: We all have a 9:00 am to 5:00 pm day job, but what about our 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm personal life? For example, one of the most popular mobile apps in the UK last year was called, Tube Exits. It is a simple but brilliant mobile application that lists all London Underground stations and lines, and tells you which carriage you need to sit in to be able to get off right at the exit. This application offers value to people wanting to get home quickly after work. Consumer driven mobile application like Tube Exits will influence user expectations for enterprise mobility applications. Also, companies must figure out how to accommodate personal liable devices.
Puneet Suppal, SAP: Lack of governance. All the technology is there, but companies need to manage it. I define governance as a comprehensive approach that makes sure the appropriate level of security is implemented, device management, data management, etc. Many companies still must understand the importance of mobile device management. It cannot be over emphasized. The same mobile device (smartphone) often holds both important corporate data and personal data. That means confidential enterprise data is on personal devices. How is that going to be managed? Much of the work people do every day is now on their mobile devices.
Ed Krufka, Smartsoft Mobile: Confusion. People really don’t know what to do. People still have outdated perspectives. They are thinking about how older mobile devices and mobile processes worked. They need to understand that new mobile solutions can provide access to huge amounts of mashed up information. Traditional mobility came from traditional back office vendors. However, today mobile data can come from anywhere and everywhere. In addition, we need to think B2C (business-to-consumer). B2C mobile applications must be compelling and beneficial. The mobile B2C app perspective views the end user as the center of the universe, not the back office ERP. It is a different perspective of outside-in. The right approach is to ask, “What information does the user need?” Not, “What data is available in the back office?”
Matthias Zeller, Adobe: Confusion. Customers are asking questions like, do I need different development teams for every different mobile application, mobile device and mobile operating systems? If so, then it involve would a lot of developers and a lot of expenses. They ask if it would be better to just develop mobile browser based apps.
Peter Price, Webalo: Companies thinking they need a new mobile application for every ERP business process. You can have one mobile client that gives you access to all of the data.
Jon Schmidt, Syclo (SAP Co-Innovation Partner): The rapid rate of change. IT departments are having a very difficult time planning for this rapid growth and change. Long term projects may not even be completed before the technology landscape has changed. Young employees expect high levels of mobility and connectivity. IT organizations are just not prepared for this.
Bryan Whitmarsh, Sybase: Change. Just implementing change and the deployment of a new mobility platform. Mobility moves and evolves so fast that it will always be changing. Change is hard for IT organizations and people in them. They are accustomed to implementing solutions that last 10 years. Mobility changes monthly. This is difficult. IT organizations need to recognize mobility involves permanently changing solutions and applications and proactively plan for this kind of environment.
Tony Kueh, Sybase: Mobile applications, from bad people, can grab all of your smartphone data and send it offshore without your knowledge. Mobility changes monthly. This is difficult. IT organizations need to recognize mobility involves permanently changing solutions and applications and proactively plan for this kind of environment.
James Naftel, Sybase: The number one goal is not to give us all toys, but to make us more productive. Look at their business, and understand how you can really get productivity gains. Does it make sense? It is easy to deploy a handful of mobile devices, but what about thousands. How do you secure all of these devices? There are legal obligations to protect data on devices. If social security numbers are on devices, companies must protect this data. All the data the company owns is probably spread around on mobile device.
Jody Sedrick, Zenware: User expectations for a mobile device. A lot of companies want to use their favorite consumer device, but their work environment demands an old style rugged device using Windows Mobile 6.5 and a stylus. There is a big gap between the capabilities of the new smartphones and the old ruggedized handhelds. This is a big challenge.
Hannes Heckner, MobileX: System integration and multi-platform support.
Greg Donaldson, 10seconds Software: Education. The marketplace is changing so rapidly that companies can’t make decisions on what to do. Many are sitting on the fence waiting for things to stabilize. Someone needs to make a decision on where to start.
Hans Nygaard, Acando: Awareness in the enterprise market. Mobility is core to many companies, but not yet on management’s agenda (at least in Scandinavia). Also, most of our enterprise users own a smartphone and are pampered by snazzy app stores, where apps compete in looking sexy and offer the best UX. To offer similarly appealing enterprise solutions is a real challenge.
If you recognize these challenges and have addressed them, then you are well positioned for enterprise mobility.