The consumerization of IT, aka the BYOx movement, is a force to be reckoned with within the enterprise. But it’s going to take a lot more than liberating the mobile employee to use their device of choice to make BYOx truly enterprise strength. As IT wrestles with policy, mobile management, security and the support mechanisms to foster this new breed of employee, there’s a lot more that needs to be done to exploit the full potential of enterprise mobile.
And, there’s no time like the present. According to Yankee Group, tablet sales will surpass PC sales by 2016 giving tablets a strong role in the enterprise but not killing off the desktop device. At the same time, the dominance of iPhone and Android phones is expected to hold, however, BlackBerry and Windows are coming on strong in OS platform wars, giving IT more to think about.
From the rumored released of a mobile version of Microsoft Office for iOS and Android users sometime early 2013, to creating an industrial strength Wi-Fi network in the workplace and beyond, to businesses getting serious about enterprise app development to rethinking business processes to embrace mobility, industry experts weigh in on what’s ahead.
Intelligent Network Infrastructure Needed
To ensure that users get a good experience regardless of the endpoint, there’s an urgent need for intelligent network infrastructure. Today, WLANs can’t optimize performance to each endpoint on the network, says Sylvia Hooks, director of product marketing at Aruba Networks. That’s got to change.
Most networks don’t have insight into what applications are running on the network, especially various web-based apps. Therefore they cannot prioritize some applications over others and get the best performance for the most important ones. Also, most Wi-Fi networks don’t have the concept of “airtime fairness” which prevents slower clients from getting in the way of faster ones — so that everyone gets a better experience, explains Hooks.
Up until recently, laptops were the sole mobile device on the WLAN. Today, the appetite for mobile devices, tablets and smartphones, is ravenous. According to Accenture, Wi-Fi connections account for more than 37 percent of digital traffic over mobile phones and about 90 percent of Internet access from tablet computers is done via Wi-Fi, not 3G or 4G networks. Enterprises must embrace this new reality and act to optimize both performance and productivity.
The global consulting organization recommends that businesses:
- Create a robust and scalable Wi-Fi architecture making it an integral part of an organization’s overall IT infrastructure.
- Plan and manage from the start with a flexible technology roadmap meaning that Wi-Fi must be designed from the get-got to accommodate change and to enable ready migration. That means fostering a heightened awareness about evolving Wi-Fi standards and planning for the probability of migrating from one type of service to another.
- Working closely with telecommunication service provides to tightly integrate Wi-Fi capabilities.
- Consider alternative sourcing to manage complexity.
UC Not There Yet
Pervasive connectivity is a must for a dynamic enterprise mobile environment as is a fostering a collaborative culture. However, the state of Unified Communications (UC) today when it comes to mobile leaves much to be desired.
UC vendors have done a good job extending UC clients to the desktop but extending UC to mobile devices, i.e. smartphones and tablets, has proven difficult, says Michael Finneran, principal at dBrn Associates.
The first flub was extending UC voice to the smartphone. “People just don’t use it,” says Finneran, intimating that it doesn’t integrate well with smartphones and quite frankly, users are very content using what they already have. “The problem when it comes to UC is that we expect a certain app for certain things maybe voice just isn’t on the list,” he adds.
In fact, maybe its time to ask, what does the mobile UC user want? UC vendors face an uphill battle as mobile users already have access to communications solutions from unlikely competitors such as Microsoft, IBM, Google, Oracle, Facebook and Skype.
If there’s a compelling mobile UC solution, it’s not apparent yet, notes Finneran, arguing that when it comes to mobile unified isn’t as important as integrated.
On that note, it may make more sense to see UC capabilities like presence, multimodal communications and collaboration imbedded in applications or business processes.
On the enterprise mobile app front, mobilizing applications won’t suffice as a long-term strategy. Instead, industry experts, like Gartner Research Director, Richard Watson, recommends mobilizing use cases rather than mobilizing apps.
According to Watson, companies need to think in terms of “building an application to deliver a business process to a mobile user.” More importantly, IT has to ask, what does the mobile user want to do? And, how do I deliver the workflow? BYOx is exciting but to make it strategic companies need to take an enterprise approach to mobile.