Generations of Enterprise Mobility

Published on: Feb 05 2014 by Sachin
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2014 02 05 Enterprise Mobility

Enterprise Mobility is the new buzzword in the IT industry. Every company and organization today is talking about embracing mobility within the enterprise. Now what is actually enterprise mobility? Can it be explained with a single definition? Here is an attempt to explain enterprise mobility as I understand it from my experience of working in this interesting domain for the last few years.

The Four Generations of Enterprise Mobility – As someone who has been involved with the telecom industry since 1999 and mobility since 2009, I have had an opportunity to see mobility evolve from its infancy to commercial viability. Right from the age where phones were sold based on features to today, where it is no longer about just phones but mobile devices with an eco-system, mobility has taken huge leaps that has transformed the landscape for individuals and organizations alike. However this blog looks more to explain the evolution of mobility for enterprises, a look at the recent past to a peep into the future.

2014 02 05 Generations of Enterprise Mobility

There has been an evolution in the mobility space for organizations. What was merely considered a good additional channel, mobility today is the driving factor for so many organizations, and this phenomenon is only going to increase in the coming years. Understanding the evolution of mobility and its emergence as the primary platform in the enterprise domain is an interesting read. I would like to present the four generations of enterprise mobility as I see it.

1st Generation (2007 – 2010) – This was the infancy stage of enterprise mobility. The early adopters of mobility were experimenting with creating mobile applications using SMS and J2ME frameworks. Companies were experimenting with HTML based web application and native applications on the Blackberry, Android, iOS and Symbian platforms. Most of the mobility experiments (application development) were done by the manufacturing and insurance companies to enable their sales force on the ground with effective applications. Extension of SFA modules onto the mobility platforms was a common requirement for companies looking to implement mobility solutions.

2nd Generation (2010 – 2013) – As the value proposition of enterprise mobility became evident and there was a good churn of mobile applications, this generation concentrated on scaling and assuring the mobile application development process, thereby creating a complete mobile application ecosystem. A lot of focus was on developing the MEAP (Mobile Enterprise Application Platform) and MDM (Mobile Device Management) solutions. MEAP and MDM made mobile application development lifecycle management easy and secure. Application accelerators like PhoneGap, Sencha, Appcelerator and JQuery also made a mark in the growth of hybrid applications. The emergence of cloud based solutions further enhanced the popularity and usage of mobile solutions, making the entire mobile application lifecycle efficient, cheaper and effective. Banks and Telecoms were leading this phase with a surge of mobile commerce and E2E (Enterprise to Enterprise) mobile solutions.

3rd Generation (2013 – 2016) – This is current phase of enterprise mobility which we are now part of. Mobility has moved from being an application ecosystem to a solutions ecosystem. Mobility is not just about mobile applications but about solutions – that include the entire range of devices and applications, along with platforms for creating, testing, monitoring and deploying mobile applications. Mobility solutions now encompass RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) based solutions, managed mobility solutions, Industrial mobility solutions, with a growing importance given to mobile security and access enablement through mobility. Mobility is no longer an industry specific offering but a horizontal offering that finds use across industries and verticals. Additionally mobility has an added advantage of complementing existing technologies rather than replacing them directly.

4th Generation (2016 Onwards) – Based on various analytical reports and forecasts, mobile devices are going to become the primary IT platform for organizations in the years to come – known as ‘Mobile First Organization’ within the IT industry. Mobility will no longer be an additional channel, but it will become ‘the channel’ for IT engagement with customers, partners and employees.  Mobility solutions ecosystem will replace the legacy IT systems, creating tremendous revenue opportunities for organizations. It will lead to technological revolution that will alter the way business is conducted across the world. Some of the disruptive technological innovations which are gaining traction even today are – NFC (Near Field Communications) solutions, Augmented Reality including wearable devices, geo-fencing, location based services, mobile sensors and mobile tracking. In short, enterprise mobility will have a completely different form and shape in the years after 2016.

Final Thoughts – Having been part of this phenomenon for last so many years, and looking at the prospects that enterprise mobility brings in the future, on a personal level, I am really excited about working more on this as the time goes by. I am sure enterprise mobility will change the enterprise world for the better.

– Sachin
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