Creating Holistic Mobile Strategies For Entire Process Portfolios

Sheldon Monteiro, Chief Technology Officer, SapientNitro

What significant changes did enterprise mobility sector witness in 2013? What did these changes mean to vendors and customers?

Consumers set the agenda: The speed with which mobile technologies have transformed nearly every aspect of everyday life has been remarkable, and much remarked upon.Consumers set the agenda - 2013 cemented people’s expectations for everything to be available - in-context, anywhere – which meant,on their mobile devices too.

BYOD and CYOD: In North America, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)policies reachedmore maturity, while in Europe, the regulatory and telecoms billing frameworks continued as headwinds. With platforms, we saw more proliferation and hence complexity – more devices, more vendors and many more versions of operating systems to support. Enterprises tried to deal with this onslaught by establishing Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) policies to tame BYOD.

Productivity apps tablestakes, process apps a focus: Against this backdrop, 2013 also saw rapid proliferation of productivity and collaboration apps (e.g. email, file sharing and limited office applications), with, and in some cases, in spite of, IT’s support. But, in addition, many organizations are either actively involved in bringing enterprise process apps to mobile or planning to do so in the next couple of years. This initiative is led by Sales Force Automation and high demand processes, such as time tracking and expense management.

Platforms evolved, but shares didn’t change much: Blackberry kicked-off the year with the much hyped launch of the Blackberry 10 mobile platform and two new devices. However, their sales disappointed and they continued to bleed cash, losing their CEO in November. Microsoft made another push to get Windows 8 wedged into the enterprise mobility space. They clearly are serious in their commitment here, with the acquisition of Nokia’s handset division, deep investments in their mobile OS and Surface tablets. However, market share remains small. Apple, Google and Samsung continued to dominate the devices and OS markets.

App Dev Choices Got Complex: Platforms for application development continued to evolve -MEAP (Mobile Enterprise Application Platform) solutions gained share. Platforms offering MEAP or MDM separately have combined solutions in order to extend the feature set of their particular product.  MEAP solutions also became more capable, offering enhanced and mature development tools. Yet, there is no one size fits all, and most enterprises are supporting several application development technologies and platforms.

Core technology improved: The continued deployment of 4G by the major carriers continued and, this, combined with ever more capable devices and HTML5, meant more opportunity for rich, immersive and context aware mobile applications.

What are some of the changes you had anticipated would happen in 2013, but did not happen?

Tablets in the Enterprise: There was speculation that Microsoft’s Surface platform would be a serious alternative for the mobile knowledge worker. However, botched execution of the initial version of the devices and OS proved no competition for the continued dominance of Android and iOS tablet devices. Partly as a result of this, the rate of adoption of tablet devices for office employees was much smaller than anticipated, despite tablets showing tremendous consumer adoption. In large part, this was due to the lack of productivity and process apps for tablets that were supported by IT.

Mobile Payments: NFC cooled off more than initially expected in the first half of 2013. This was helped in part by Apple's decision to exclude NFC from their products. Apple instead adopted a unique approach by utilizing the new Bluetooth Low Energy (also called BLE or Bluetooth 4.0) standard. Partly as a result of this battle, and payment industry dynamics - mobile payments – the source of much hype in 2012 and coming into 2013, remains fragmented.

Consumer phones: Amazon and Facebook were widely speculated to be entering the device market for phones. This did not materialize.

How will you comment on the statement "Enterprise mobility as a standard operating procedure in 2014"?

We agree, but think the choice of words is poor. The reality is that in this space, consumers are setting the agenda, fueled by two dominant consumer centric dominant players – Apple and Google. As a result, “standard operating procedure” is a pipe dream. We expect no single vendor, device, form-factor or application development/management technology to dominate, so standardization of procedure will be hard. However, CIO’s will be under continued pressure to accept the complexity and make more productivity and process applications available in mobile formats. Marketing and sales will lead, with development often outsourced. Forward thinking CIO’s will lead with enterprise mobility, creating holistic mobile strategies for their entire process portfolios.

Can you paint us the picture of how the landscape for enterprise mobility sector will change in 2014? What are some of the broader trends you are closely watching?

Trends in mobility sit at the nexus of several other trends – cloud, big-data, HTML5 and more powerful devices. But make no mistake – we see the consumer continue to drive the agenda. As a result, continued maturation of BYOD and CYOD policies will continue. Enterprise mobility will continue to be dominated by smartphones, despite consumer tablet adoption, till enterprises deploy more process enablement apps in tablet formats. Leading enterprises will develop applications leveraging location awareness, sensor and Bluetooth technologies - experimentation in employee profile management, self-service, employee tracking, and big data from an employee driven data set. For example, utilization of workspace, core hours, types of activity, push messaging, etc.

New devices and in particular wearable computing will be a hot space to watch. Devices like Google Glass may be hyped up for all their privacy and social implications, but their potential to transform enterprises, for in context content served to knowledge workers and sales people for instance, shows high potential. Smart-watches, executed well, will provide certain categories of workers additional productivity enablers.

It will also be interesting to see how the race for dominance in the enterprise mobility space between Apple, Google, and Microsoft shapes up, as each of these companies vies for a bigger marketshare. Microsoft in particular will be important to watch in 2014, particularly as year-end sales of its devices are reportedly healthier than they had anticipated.  

On a portfolio renewal basis, we expect re-investment in intranets, which has largely been left dormant, as mobility is driving some well needed upgrades and the potential to up the ante for employee dashboards. We also expect integration of big data initiatives with enterprise mobility CRM and sales

How will customer spends change in 2014 for enterprise mobility sector? What makes you think customers will be buying more/ less?

Continued momentum and a shift from basic device management to more enhanced and direct employee, partner and customer cloud services optimized for mobile will fuel a growth in spending. We expect a significant up-tick in apps for process enablement, and renewal of content infrastructures (intranets and extranets) for mobile enablement.

What's in store for your company in 2014?

SapientNitro is an integrated marketing and technology services firm. We create and engineer highly relevant experiences that accelerate business growth and fuel brand advocacy for our clients. SapientNitro is one of the few agencies that offer true end-to-end services from research and concept creation to multi-platform mobile development and support.

2014 promises to be exciting as enterprises move beyond provisioning simple productivity apps to enabling core processes in contexts that are relevant, useful and usable to employees, partners and customers. Our clients and partners are actively piloting newer approaches to field sales force enablement, consumer connection, and deeply immersive experiences. We expect this will increase, and we are prepared with a wealth of experience, rooted in our understanding of human behavior.

Mobile is personal, pervasive, and is increasingly a preferred method of interaction. We believe Mobile transformation can be realized through smart devices (smart phone, tablet, media player), an end-to-end channel, or a new way to interact (natural user interface, voice control, or even automotive in-dash screens). Mobile can make any environment an interactive one by connecting to the cloud or web services, interacting with digital displays, or working as a bridge or remote control to a larger ecosystem. It is reinventing how brands engage, entertainment is consumed, products are researched and bought, how we manage money, and how we communicate and interact with social and partner networks. SapientNitro has curated all the capabilities to help our clients unlock this potential.