In the coming year I expect the mobile enterprise market to significantly expand, driven mostly by continued consumerisation of the enterprise and the proliferation of smarter mobile devices.
Businesses will leverage mobile and social technologies to help them provide immediate gratification to users, offer relevant information and dynamic content at the point of need, and deliver services and goods with deeper end user insight and a more personal touch – in other words, “deploy happiness” – to a world with increasingly connected, passionate and engaged employees and customers.
The foundation that underpins and enables these advancements will be the mobile cloud, as IT organisations push to simplify the integration of mobile into existing technology infrastructure by choosing to consume mobile apps and services in a hosted, on-demand model, rather than building the mobile infrastructure and platform themselves and supporting it with costly resources.
Top Five Mobile Enterprise Market Trends for 2011:
1. Mobile is the Mortar
Many industry analysts predict smartphone sales will eclipse PC sales by 2012. Tablets such as the iPad, those powered by Android, and soon RIM’s PlayBook are being adopted at unprecedented rates. We’ve already seen a sharp uptake in enterprise tablet interest, and 2011 will prove to be the first year of significant tablet deployment, which will likely come at the expense of laptops. The mobile channel will become seamless, as enterprises integrate mobility with their ‘bricks and clicks’ operations. Mobility is not a separate channel but one that has the unique ability to drive new growth to Web and physical storefronts, augmenting growth, driving new revenues, and deepening customer relationships with the brand.
2. The Mobile Cloud Reigns
Cloud-based mobility (a set of hosted services, typically powered by a mobile enterprise application platform or MEAP) will allow businesses and service providers to offer a ‘switch in the cloud,’ enabling them to build, publish, manage and secure mobile apps and content and scale mobility projects much more rapidly and cost effectively. As mobile apps proliferate for employees, customers and partners, enterprises will look to deploy their own branded app stores for greater application management, control and protection of the brand.
3. Mobile Commerce Ka-Chings
In almost every industry, but especially in retail, mobile apps will enable mobile commerce to flourish. Businesses must get up close and personal with their users, understand their exact needs in real time and deliver incentives and information to get consumers into the stores and to drive them to make purchases on websites. Mobile apps that seamlessly integrate collaborative technologies, contextual and location-based information, and rich content will generate new commercial revenue streams. In addition, business intelligence, monitored and acted upon in real time, will become a key piece of the 2011 landscape as part of mobile commerce growth.
4. Mobile Marketing with Meaning
Truly hundreds of thousands of mobile apps now occupy the “appmosphere,” and the number is growing at an exponential rate. In 2010, I observed a key shift: Mobile users are no longer defined purely as workers, consumers, customers or partners – they are people. To thrive in the new era of mobile marketing, which will ramp up significantly in 2011, organisations must dive into the exciting discipline of intelligently interacting with mobile users and engaging with them in more meaningful ways that make their lives just a little bit easier.
5. Mobile Apps in More Flavours; Mobile Content and HTML5 on the Rise
Natively-built mobile apps will continue to grow, but app and content consumption via mobile Web browsers will also become a key component of a comprehensive enterprise mobility strategy. Pure Web or ‘thin client’ apps rely on a constant wireless connection to access content, in contrast to thick client native apps which retain data locally allowing the user to continue to work in the event of signal loss. ‘Rich apps’ that straddle this divide will become more common in 2011 as HTML5-enabled browsers become widely available. Utilising the HTML5 specification, companies can offer the best of both worlds via HTML5 apps that combine the “write once, deploy to many” capabilities of Web-based apps with the offline data access and rich UI of the native app. Enterprise mobile strategy in 2011 must incorporate the growth in HTML5 apps, multimedia content and mobile web usage to ensure a well-managed and secure environment exists for their deployment and use.
As businesses enter the new decade and younger people continue to shape consumer and enterprise behaviour, mobile is hands down where to invest for accelerated innovation, brand differentiation, and real shareholder value. It’s a hugely exciting time and organisation need to be committed to delivering innovative solutions that help their customers get ahead of the latest technology, develop trendsetting apps that spread happiness, and deliver measurable value to all businesses.