2012: What I Learned About Enterprise Mobility

I’m very happy to note that it’s January 7th 2013 in a rain soaked England and, although we may soon need an ark, it would appear that despite many a prophecy the world did not end. The last laugh may be on me, the Mayans may have been out by a month or they simply thought what calendar would need to go any further than 2012. Either way we are here and well.

I know that I have said before I won’t be making any predictions this year and I won’t waver from that, but here I just wanted to take a look back at a year in enterprise mobility to highlight the main events of 2012 and how the ever evolving world of mobility mutated last year.

Smartphone sales overtook PCs

Sales of PCs are in a decline recent research from both Gartner and IDC has reported a slump in global PC shipments in Q3 of 2012 which could be due, in part, to the popularity of tablets and smartphones. Some have foretold the death of the PC whilst we aren’t quite there yet we in the world of business are being forced to sit up take notice and include mobility in their strategy.

Mobile users spend more time on apps than on the Web

This is a fundamental shift meaning that in the world of the consumer how we search for data information and choose to send our money has changed instead of going straight to a browser users now go straight to “the app for that”. This in turn means that within the enterprise users will expect the same service. Hence the rise in the demand for the micro apps for businesses, simple applications which do one task within 5 to 6 screens, allowing users to complete one whole business transaction irrespective of where the data resides. The need for these sort of applications will only increase in the future as what’s good for the consumer is good for the enterprise.

HTML5 is not a Panacea

In the beginning of 2012 and through the whole year in fact there was a lot of hype around HTML5 and how it was the vision of a Utopian future for application developers. I know I for one published quite a few cautionary articles and was shot down in flames for being too cautious. Then in September the poster boy for mobility Mark Zuckerberg seemed to admit that HTML5 was one of the greatest errors Facebook had made and the tide turned suddenly I was no longer alone and many began to agree that HTML5, although amazing may not be quite ready. Like everything it has roles it is perfect for but it also has areas which raise concerns. Enterprises have now begun to realise that in 4 to 5 years time these issues may have been resolved but until that happens they may need to find an alternate route.

Freemium is the dominant model of deployment

The vast majority of application available to consumers are free and make their money from advertising or upgrades for additional services. This is a trend which is slowly making its way into the world of enterprise mobility. Increasingly ISVs and enterprises who are ahead of the curve are considering “freemium” offerings as a way to extend geographical influence, break new markets or test the waters. This is of course increasing possible when using a Mobile Enterprise application platform which allows for rapid development across platforms without the need to foster those skills internally.

Mobile is a two (soon to be three) horse race

Although the numbers have moved around, with Apple appearing to be in decline while Android appear to be in ascendance the truth is that they are still the two key players in the mobile marketplace. This year of course saw the launch of Microsoft’s offering which will inevitably begin to gain traction especially in the enterprise next year but right now we can safely say that the vast majority of CIOs and CEOs consider a mobile strategy look into only these vendors.

Mobile is more than just smartphones

This may seem obvious but the big lesson learned this year is that having an app which works on a smartphone is will not be enough. 2012 was the year of the tablet with offerings seeming to come from every conceivable area of the market. The meant that in 2012 we realised we didn’t need to think in terms of just mobile phones or just tablets or just PCs, but instead needed to create a strategy which would allow them all to working in conjunction with one another. Considering the task in hand and which devices features will best fit the context for which they are needed, a task on a tablet may be much better suited than using the desktop. You need to be able to manage your mobile devices you can use any device on any platform with any application.

In the next two years an increasing majority of employees in the enterprise will be using a combination of desktop, smartphone and tablet, each device offering unique opportunities while complementing each other. Organisations need to be ready to manage this change. If that sounds like a prediction, I promise it wasn’t.

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David Akka is Managing Director at Magic Software Enterprises UK. David is a successful executive manager with a proven track record as a general manager with a strong background in sales, marketing, business development and operations. Past experience in technology and service delivery include both UK and European responsibilities.