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A New Perspective on Enterprise Mobility and 2014 Requirements, Part 2

If the changes rapidly occurring in the enterprise mobility market were mostly hidden from view in 2013, they will be center stage with a spotlight on them in 2014.  The Yankee Group predicts these changes will be so huge that entire categories of enterprise mobility like the MADP (mobile application development platforms) may transform into something new and different.  They believe mobile platforms in 2014 will emphasize features like:
  • open architectures
  • scalability
  • extensibility
  • flexibility
  • embedded API management
  • data orchestration capabilities
  • integrated analytics
  • agnosticism to tools, infrastructures and standards
The traditional vision enterprise mobility platform vendors have chased for so long now seems to be fading away.  The business plans they embraced depended upon a customer buying the mobile platform, staying on it and maximizing the numbers of users.  The cost per user, while expensive upfront, would over time become reasonable with economies of scale.  Once customers rolled out large numbers of users the barriers-to-migration would become so high that customers would in effect be locked-in, not necessarily by technology but by the cost of changing.  This is where the mobile platform vendor would theoretically achieve profitability.  In reality, however, not enough customers bought mobile platforms and rolled out large numbers of users at the rate required to deliver on the business plans of many mobile platform players.

In addition, the research and development costs of trying to be all things to all people were so high that only a mass market could sustain it.  This mass market has been slow to mature and unpredictable, which has led many vendors to invest large amounts of money in the wrong things.

There are so many inexpensive and powerful tools for developing mobile apps today, that the competitive advantages of having one as a core component of your MADP is minimal.  The cross-platform app development capability of many MADPs remains valuable, but the efforts of keeping one updated and relevant is cost prohibitive.

I continue to believe there is a huge market, and many opportunities for vendors to make money as a result of companies embracing enterprise mobility, but perhaps not in the areas first imagined.  The investments may be directed more toward updating and replacing existing infrastructures and systems to be mobile-centric and capable of supporting real-time data exchanges.  The actual investment in the development and integration of mobile apps may be relatively small compared to these infrastructure investments.

As I described in Part 1 of this article series, http://mobileenterprisestrategies.blogspot.com/2013/12/a-new-perspective-on-enterprise.html, IT organizations in 2013 realized that the major challenges with implementing enterprise mobility were managing the TCO (total cost of ownership) of mobile apps and upgrading legacy IT systems to support a real-time and mobile-centric landscape.  As a result, IT organizations are rethinking their requirements and taking a more strategic view of enterprise mobility and the role it will play.  In large enterprises, the word "strategic" is synonymous with slow.  It also means taking a deeper look at what needs to change overall in their IT ecosystem to support digital transformation.  This kind of in-depth research and analysis often leads CIOs back to their ERP and core system vendors for answers and solutions.

This is not good news for traditional and independent mobile platform vendors.  They prefer a market where there is a clean abstraction layer between back-office systems and mobile apps and platforms.  If the biggest challenges with enterprise mobility are actually with data integration, orchestration and security, then that opens up a much broader set of competitors and requirements.  To compete in that market requires a very different set of skills and plenty of funding.

So where does this lead us?  I believe it will lead to large investments in upgrading and replacing legacy systems and infrastructures that are unable to support a real-time, mobile-centric world.  This means big money for system integrators, infrastructure players and security solution vendors.  It means businesses are going to be hesitant to make big bets on specific mobile platform vendors and on-premise solutions as the technology is moving too fast to be confident in a selection.  It means businesses will favor open architectures that permit a vendor agnostic approach to mobility.  It means a keen interest in cloud-based mobile solutions and platforms that offer flexibility, minimal commitment, low costs and lightning fast innovation.

2014 looks to be a pivotal and interesting year for enterprise mobility.  Stay tuned for the latest.

For more opinions on the direction of enterprise mobility read this article from my colleague Peter Rogers, http://mobileenterprisestrategies.blogspot.com/2013/12/enterprise-mobility-2014-is-going-to.html.

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Kevin Benedict
Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation Cognizant
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Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

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Kevin Benedict is the Senior Analyst for Digital Transformation at Cognizant, a writer, speaker and SAP Mentor Alumnus. Follow him on Twitter @krbenedict. He is a popular speaker around the world on the topic of digital transformation and enterprise mobility. He maintains a busy schedule researching, writing and speaking at events in North America, Asia and Europe. He has over 25 years of experience working in the enterprise IT solutions industry.