I realize that seems like a silly question, what with all your colleagues running around glued to their smartphones. Ask yourself this: How many workplace apps, other than email, are you able to access with your smartphone? How easy is it for you to get your mission-critical work done on a tablet or smartphone when you're on the road?
We've heard oodles of hype about mobility in the enterprise and tons of FUD around the BYOD invasion. And there's no doubt that mobile devices play a big role in our work lives. When it comes to having a truly mobile business, though, most enterprises still have a long way to go.
A survey of 300 IT decision makers in the US and UK, conducted in the summer of 2013 by the research firm Vanson Bourne on behalf of the enterprise application and data security vendor Mobile Helix, reveals that very few companies have mobilized core enterprise applications. This is the case despite the fact that 87% of the IT executives surveyed said their employees want more access to enterprise data and applications on mobile devices.
On average, respondents to the Vanson Bourne survey had more than 400 applications within their organizations, yet only 22% of these can actually be accessed from mobile devices. This is even more startling when you realize that 86% of respondents have developed standard web applications, and 53% of respondents' enterprise applications are browser-based.
The problem is that many businesses are scrambling to create a mobile strategy; hamstrung by unrealistic expectations, vague requirements and organizational inertia. Enterprises must adapt more quickly to the mobile revolution or run the risk of being left behind by flexible competitors.
Kevin Benedict, head analyst for social, mobile, analytics, and cloud at Cognizant, sees the issue as partly one of nomenclature. In a blog post for Virtualization Journal, he discussed visiting a large paper manufacturer that has yet to start any mobile application projects internally.
I wonder if they have ever read about the impact of digital transformation on Kodak film sales? I don't revel in writing about this, I cringe. The challenge is not IT, it is in the business that chooses not to commit budget to preparing for digital transformation…
When I talk to companies about mobile strategies, I am not really talking about mobile strategies. I am talking about digital transformation and how mobile applications support this transformation. If you buy into the fact that entire industries and marketplaces are being digitally transformed (think film, newspapers, media, retail, banking, travel, education, healthcare etc.), then you recognize that mobile applications are about real-time prospect, customer and employee engagement, commerce, interaction and collaboration on any device, any place and at any time! The mobile app is the interface between the outside world and the company. However, the mobile app will provide very little value if the internal IT systems are not capable of supporting the demands of evolving marketplaces.
I'm amazed that we are still seeing research like this in 2013. I'm shocked when I talk to CIOs, CTOs, or business leaders and find out, for example, that they were managing a geographically dispersed sales force using Excel spreadsheets until recently. And I can't help but feel disappointed every time I hear about an exciting IT initiative that lacks a mobile component.
Meanwhile, the world is moving ahead, whether the enterprise likes it or not. If the research firm Ovum is correct, enterprises will need to play a major game of mobility catchup in 2014. In an introduction to its recent "Trends to Watch 2014: Enterprise Mobility" report, Ovum said:
Mobile devices are increasingly becoming the first point of contact between a business and its customers (B2C), suppliers (B2B), and employees. As such, businesses will aim to provide a strong multi-screen, multi-channel experience for customers, suppliers, and employees alike. This means that organizations will be looking to provide a slick user experience (UX) for every aspect of the business, from marketing, advertising, promotion, and sales through to internal processes, and whether the stakeholder is using a smartphone, tablet, or PC. Getting this right can be a complicated task and will require a strong focus on UX, both during the app development process and in terms of providing a corporate network with the capacity to deal with all the mobile devices demanding access to it.
Ovum believes this trend will have as big an impact as the evolution of the Web, as it will challenge people’s thoughts on how they work, when they work, and whether traditional office spaces are needed. Consumers and employees are becoming more mobile, and working practices and habits will change as businesses make more services and tools available on mobile devices. In 2014, organizations of all kinds will at least be thinking about how they can take advantage of mobile devices to improve working practices in all lines of the business.
What's the problem, folks? Why isn't enterprise mobility keeping up with the undeniable consumer trends? What is holding us back from optimizing every enterprise app for mobility? Where does your organization fall in terms of its mobility strategy? Do you see things changing at your organization in 2014? Talk to us in the comments field below.
It's important that enteprise apps mirror consumer behaviors so that there is a greater likelyhood of employee adoption. In our case, we are building a communication tool with this in mind so that organizations can optimize their mobile strategy.
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