Exclusive | Derry Finkeldey: Mobility at Tipping Point

By Derry Finkeldey, 15-Jun-2012

With increased awareness of BYOD and the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and other personal devices in the workplace, mobility is also emerging as the top-trend priority for enterprises.

Exclusive | Derry Finkeldey: Mobility at Tipping Point, Derry Finkeldey, Principal Analyst, Gartner
IT departments are having to respond to user demand by supporting user-owned devices.
GartnerDerry Finkeldey, Principal Analyst

Mobility is at the tipping point. When used in certain work scenarios, smartphones and tablets are on a functional par with desktop PCs and laptops. Demand for mobility solutions is growing steadily in most industries. The tight relationship between devices, network services and applications mean all three will grow.

Mobility ranked as a top-three technology priority for CIOs in 2012, according to the Gartner Executive Programs CIO Survey 2012, but the size and nature of the opportunity vary considerably by industry. Government will remain the largest overall IT market in terms of dollars spent, although the smaller markets of wholesale, media and insurance consider mobility a more strategic priority.

Two factors are driving mobility adoption. The first is consumerization, as employees and customers increasingly use mobile devices, services and apps in their home life, and expect their employers to equip them with smartphones and tablets or, increasingly, to allow them to use their own.

The second is business strategy, as enterprises realise the agility and efficiency improvements that mobility can bring. Most CIOs we speak to are preparing for substantial mobile device diversity and, in some regions, are exploring new management models, such as BYOD. Most businesses recognise that mobility can be a source of efficiency and competitive advantage.

Two factors are driving mobility adoption; the first is consumerization and the second, business strategy.

IT departments are having to respond to user demand by supporting user-owned devices and by offering more mobile devices and services as part of the corporate package. This creates:

  • Opportunities for device and OS platform manufacturers to stimulate demand among individual users as consumers, and through enterprise IT departments.
  • Challenges and opportunities for management tool providers, which have a large yet difficult market to serve.
  • Fragmentation for service providers and application developers, which have to serve multiple OSs and device types.

Security and management challenges are the biggest inhibitors to adoption across all industries, with mobility presenting potentially severe risks if not managed properly through technical measures, policies and training.

Isolation of corporate data through virtualisation, portal applications and device security controls are developing to help businesses protect corporate data even on personal devices. For example, mobile device equipment manufacturers including Apple, HTC, Motorola and Samsung are using ARM's TrustZone API to isolate applications in virtualised containers. There are also software-based approaches to mobile virtualisation.

The diversity of mobile solutions and their pace of evolution put a major strain on IT resources to assess, manage, deploy and support. Mobility does not easily fit into the standard refresh cycle and corporate hardware/software image. The question around the ownership of devices presents issues of liability, security and service costs.

It is little surprise that given security and manageability are major problem areas for enterprises, mobile device management (MDM) is merging as a major investment area. We have seen a significant increase in enquiries for MDM, with many enterprises asking how to manage the transition to a more complex mobile computing and communications service environment by supporting security, software and inventory management across multiple OS platforms and on smartphones and tablets.

Gartner’s recommendations to technology providers:

·         Craft your mobility proposition for each industry around the value you offer in a business process context. For example, link front-office mobility applications to revenue enhancement and customer satisfaction.

·         Target short-term ROI when approaching back-office, supply chain scenarios. Many industries face budget pressure, so justify investments by illustrating how mobility can enhance productivity metrics and make efficiency gains. 

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