Skip to Content

Mobile Expert Interview Series: IDC’s Nick McQuire

Nick and I will both be attending the upcoming conference in Brussels entitled, The Enterprise Mobility Exchange.  I saw him on the agenda and arranged an interview with him.

Note: These are not Nick McQuire’s exact words, but rather my notes from the interview.  However, Nick did review this article and provided edits in advance of publication.

Kevin: Tell us about your roles and responsibilities and what areas you cover?
Nick: I have been at IDC for just over a year, and I was at BT Global Services in the strategy arm working across the mobility and UCC portfolios before that.  Before BT, I headed up Enterprise Mobility research in Europe for Yankee Group so have been directly and indirectly in the enterprise mobility segment in Europe for close to ten years now.

Kevin: What are your focus areas today?
Nick: Enterprise mobility and M2M (machine-to-machine communications) in EMEA.  I focus my research on the mobile and M2M value chains in terms of vendors and service providers.  In terms of end users, at IDC we do a fair bit with CIOs, especially in terms of our events platform, but also we run numerous CIO dinners across Europe throughout the year working with them on their challenges in terms of mobility.

Kevin: What do you think is the value of attending an event like the Enterprise Mobility Exchange in Brussels on May 9 – 11?
Nick: I was particularly interested in attending this event based on its success in previous years, especially in terms of field services.  I am especially keen to hear how recent enterprise-wise mobile trends are impacting the field services community, especially in terms of consumerization of the enterprise.  Are enterprises still looking in silos in terms of their approach to mobility?  I am interested in hearing best practices around mobile strategies and deployment in general and given the breadth of attendees and the scope of industry topics covered, I am sure there will be lots to learn in Brussels!

Kevin: What do companies need to think about before starting an enterprise mobility project?
Nick:  Of course many companies will have different approaches but we tend to advise CIOs that the starting point should be to conduct a general audit and rationalization of the estate to determine what enterprises have and what the priorities should be.  This should range across mobile infrastructure, devices and contracts and liability schemes to determine the costs, inventory, policy and any projects that are in place already flying under the radar.  This process in itself is often a revelation for many companies and going through this rationalization exercise up front is a critical step because it often lays bare a few key, previously hidden, priorities early on.

The next step, once organizations have determined what they have, should be to engage the business units to understand their requirements and what mobility means to them to do their job effectively. Having cross functional user buy in early on helps with sponsorship internally but also with prioritization as well.  We also argue that IT should functionally profile their users during this process to best determine user requirements and solutions for specific user groups, work styles and work spaces within the organization.  Not all workers are mobile workers and equally some worker roles have higher risk profiles than others. Gone are the days when blanket policies and standardized technology apply to all workers in organizations, so functional profiling is an important exercise.

Next, after the fact finding, it is then critical to put in place a mobile strategy that aligns with wider business goals of the organization and takes this input from the business teams.  What are the priorities for the company over the next two to three years, and what is needed to achieve them?  Is it to cut costs or to drive growth and greater customer interaction?  Is it to foster better collaboration and innovation or more effective business continuity?  Is it about talent recruitment and retention?  A mobility strategy should directly align to and enable these strategic priorities.

Finally, we argue that success for wide mobility implementations within enterprises needs central governance especially in its infancy.  Perhaps it’s a Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Mobility within the company or a VP of Mobility internally.  But some form of central governance, which considers cross functional interests across the mobile workforce for sure, but also senior management and functions from HR, Legal and Operations.  This 360 degree view will ensure considerations across the business are met from employees, partners, legal, including unions, etc., and of course customers.  It will also ensure governance across the business in terms of avoiding duplication and unnecessary costs as well as to ensure priorities and standards are in place.

Kevin: What do companies often forget or fail to plan for when implementing enterprise mobility solutions?
Nick: There are a few areas but one area in particular is failing to plan for the future.  Often, the mobile solution does not fit the long term business or IT goals and the focus of the solution is often too narrow.  This is because in the past mobility has been tactically geared around a specific task, problem or process and essentially deployed in a silo within the company.  Over time we are now seeing other, perhaps more strategic areas, open up around mobile, but what is in place is not scalable.  This can become an unmanageable and costly pain point for many companies.  The good news here is that in Europe at least, service providers, telco and IT, are starting to help businesses handle this complexity from devices and contracts through to more complex mobilization projects in terms of managed services which require lower upfront investments.

Kevin: What are the biggest challenges in enterprise mobility today?
Nick: There are, of course, a few but we see that many European organizations are struggling with best practice in terms of mobile policy in the new world brought on by consumerization.  CIOs are aware that devices are entering their organization at a rapid rate.  They are increasingly considering “bring your own” liability schemes but are asking each other for help and guidance in terms of management and developing policies and governance frameworks for these.  They are asking questions like, “What do I need to be thinking about?  What are the risks?”  We will see vendors and service providers step up their guidance to CIOs on consumerization this year I believe, born out of their own internal practitioning at the moment on these issues.

Kevin: What were some of most surprising trends for you last year, 2010?
Nick: The biggest one of course was the success of the iPad in the enterprise.  We have all heard about this I know, but I think many didn’t predict how fast this would occur.  For example, we at IDC in Europe did a large CIO survey last year on mobility which was fielded in July with the results coming back in August.  Interest in tablets was quite small from CIOs in July-August because it was “pre-iPad era”.  It’s like BC-AD switch over in many respects.  The pace of change is so phenomenal now.  I think the iPhone kick-started a slight change in conventional IT philosophy around standardization and control in 2009-10, but the iPad’s arrival virtually cemented this change almost overnight in 2010, and few I believe could have predicted that pace of change.

Kevin: What are some of your predictions for 2011 and 2012 in enterprise mobility?
Nick: I can see 2011 as the year when we see the widespread enterprise deployment of tablets, rather than the end-user pull in model we see in abundance today around the iPad. Sales and Execs functions, as well as some service organizations, will start to get these devices from IT in 2011 and this process will drive a growing strategic importance for mobility management and security platforms.  Additionally, you will see organizations defining their mobility policies and strategies and implementing governance frameworks as they start looking at how they can gain strategic and transformational advantages from mobility.

Also, I would mention the emergence of M2M communications in the enterprise. You can see this in utilities, energy, automotive and health care segments more and more.  There is a lot of growth particularly in automotive and energy being driven by regulation in Europe at the moment.

Kevin: What do you think about SAP’s acquisition of Sybase in 2010?
Nick: It was good for the market. It shows a very strong enterprise player making a commitment and defining what companies need to have to deploy enterprise mobility.  It gives Afaria an advantage in the MDM market, because it is backed by SAP.  SAP has also helped moved the discussion around mobility from a tactical discussion to a strategic one. Enterprises need a platform approach for mobility and the union allows Sybase and SAP to be strategic mobility players.  I am seeing large systems integrators in the SAP ecosystem like T-Systems for example, really pushing SAP and Sybase hard as a strategic opportunity for MNCs in Europe.

I want to thank Nick for sharing his knowledge, observations and insights with all of us!

For those interested in reading a weekly summary of enterprise mobility market numbers and trend data you can read it here on The Mobility News Weekly.

Be the first to leave a comment
You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.