The Enterprise Mobility Disconnect

Susan Nunziata, Director of Editorial | 12/2/2013 | 32 comments

Susan Nunziata
How mobile is your enterprise? Really.

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.

Paul DeBeasi, research vice president at Gartner, nails it in a blog post for InformationWeek, a sister publication:

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.

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— Susan Nunziata, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn pageLike EnterpriseEfficiency on Facebook, Director of Editorial,

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Susan Nunziata   The Enterprise Mobility Disconnect   2/26/2014 3:32:34 PM
Re: smartphones too small
@soozyg: I certainly can't. And I can type at the speed of speech on a regular keyboard. In fact, I was at RSA yesterday covering a panel that featured a VERY fast talker, and I was able to keep up with most of what he said.

I think I missed my true calling: Court stenographer.

soozyg   The Enterprise Mobility Disconnect   2/10/2014 7:41:42 PM
Re: smartphones too small
Maybe the journalists speak into the microphone? I can't see anyone typing fast enough on a virtual keyboard.
Susan Nunziata   The Enterprise Mobility Disconnect   2/10/2014 7:34:03 PM
Re: smartphones too small
@soozyg: I thnk you speak for the majority on that one.

I know some journalists who claim to be able to cover a conference using only their iPad. I, for one, still need to lug around my notebook in order to get any real work done.
soozyg   The Enterprise Mobility Disconnect   2/10/2014 11:04:51 AM
smartphones too small
How many workplace apps, other than email, are you able to access with your smartphone? 

I don't know anyone that takes care of anything other than email or basic app downloads (including games) on a smartphone. The screens are too small. My brother (a lawyer) find his iPad useless until he attaches a keyboard.

I do 100% of my work at my desk. 
soozyg   The Enterprise Mobility Disconnect   2/10/2014 10:59:12 AM
Re: a solution to the disconnect
there is a really serious skill shortage for mobile capable developer and that is what is causing the bottle neck.

I could totally see this. How many responsive/adaptive full-stack developers are there out there? I bet it's one of the smallest, most unique fields. 

I'm working with a full-stack developer now on a project to creat and launch an app. Even with his 30-year experience, including working for major enterprises, it's taken him a long time to create this thing and make it viable on more than a 10" tablet.
Susan Nunziata   The Enterprise Mobility Disconnect   1/28/2014 1:12:14 AM
Re: conflicting older tech
@kstaron: That's a good example to bring up. I hadn't considered remote, contracted workers. 

Was this particular company in a heavily regulated industry? 

MDMConsult   The Enterprise Mobility Disconnect   1/6/2014 2:05:08 PM
Re: A combination between not many good business app and a lack of an efficient mobile strategy
@Susan Agreed. There is competition aggressively with mobility initiatives. BYOD is an enabler to achieve tangible business benefits. Companies should recognize the value of mobility as an enabler of business transformation to drive greater efficiency, agility and customer engagement within their organizations are poised for growth. 
tjgkg   The Enterprise Mobility Disconnect   1/4/2014 1:28:33 PM
Re: Under the radar
These days there is always away around restrictions!
tjgkg   The Enterprise Mobility Disconnect   1/4/2014 1:23:32 PM
Re: Under the radar
@Susan Nunziata: HIPAA has so many complex rules on privacy and PHI (protected health information) that you have to design applications to have many different access levels to avoid disclosing the information to the wrong people. Even something as simple as a plan of care and what readings were taken during a visit either by a home health aid or RN are considered protected and thus have to be encrypted or not displayed. So discovery and implementation phases in setting up a system is very important.
Susan Fourtané   The Enterprise Mobility Disconnect   1/1/2014 3:18:41 AM
Re: A combination between not many good business app and a lack of an efficient mobile strategy

Indeed. There will be some of the most interesting developments in technologies and bussiness apps, some of which have already been cooking for some time. Cheers for the New Year, too! :D 

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