Like some magic wand, CIOs and enterprises have taken to quoting mobility as one of the top emerging technologies in their wish list. It would be the answer to a large number of issues that enterprises face, and maybe the panacea to some of them. But getting this technology to the market is another ball game all together, Kalpana Singhal speaks with industry leaders to find out if organisations are ready to adopt this technology and how far solution providers have reached to implement it.
With the advent of the Smartphone, a box computer has become all but redundant, even for corporate functions. Even the ubiquitous laptop that defined the IT industry is on its way out. It mobility in the palm of your hand all the way now. New business models are therefore pushing their head above the ground, to take the place of the older business paradigms. Is this a fad? “No way, “says Anuradha Makhija, MD, OneNetwork India,” it is definitely not a fad, it’s the need of the hour. There is only one way to go! Looking at number of mobile SmartPhones and tablets adoption at very fast rate itself shows BYOD to some extent already been accepted.” Neeraj Mendiratta, Managing Director, AceData is also very enthusiastic, but, he adds – It’s just that the entire ecosystem needs some time to grow to being full fledged.
Channel partners are very enthusiastic about it. Adds Saravanan Namasivayam, General Manager-Consulting and Business Solutions, Kaar Technologies, “Organizations have moved from desk to mobile. Most analysts predict by end of 2014, mobile phones will outnumber humans. Even in IT industry, we are seeing a new trend of collaboration between traditional IT models and cloud service providers to cater to the growing enterprise mobility. Standalone ERP system is a passé. ERP systems supported with mobile apps are catching up and all large scale players have already adopted this model. Being in the technology consulting space, we often recommend enterprise mobility to our customers.”
Anuradha believes channel partners play a big role in the adoption of enterprise mobility and the support they can provide is critical,”Channels help to design a Future -ready network for the enterprise customers to achieve enhanced mobility. Secondly they help to enable the High-IQ enterprise — an open, smart approach to enterprise networking that allows customers to fundamentally transform the user and operator experience,” she says.
With such a positive response, one would expect a fertile roadmap for the enterprise mobility industry. Analyst trends too indicate a strong tide in its favour over the next few years.
Growth will be facilitated by various factors, one of the biggest ones being the push to develop all enterprise applications like ERP, SCM to name a few, onto mobile platforms. This actually is the next step in adoption of mobility – BYOD was probably the first. MADPS, (Mobile Application Development Platform) and MDM (Mobile Development Management) will be the way forward for these enterprises and they seem to have support of the channels to get them into the market.
From the users’ perspective, it is the deluge of consumer mobile applications in the market which are creating a space for choices. This in turn is driving every enterprise to opt for a higher version of iOS or Android apps, an even more sophisticated Smartphone or a smarter tablet. But this relationship cannot be so casual. It is critical that organisations understand the utility of these devices, their attraction for the employees…and utilise this strength of these bonds for enterprise efficiency. They will then have better insights of how these SmartPhones and smart devices can be used for a better mobility management process.
In the sea of application and opinions, MDM seems to hold the key to the confidence in mobility adoption, the manna for all ills. An efficient MDM system can take care of a whole range of challenges, from security to interoperability. Is anyone complaining? Not at all. In fact as Sarvanan points out, “When organizations move to mobile-based operations, it is essential to protect business data. Identifying devices that have access to network systems and other company information through proper patch management is an absolute essential. Hence data security cannot be taken very lightly. However, the risk associated with data security can be mitigated with MDM. SAP’s mobile secure solution portfolio allows organizations to secure mobile devices, apps and associated content, and the major advantage is these solutions are device and OS agnostic, so it’s absolutely BYOD compatible.”
Challenges driving trends
But this brave new world comes rife with challenges. To utilise the powerhouse of mobility for enterprise purposes, there will be strategies and pathways need to be created, that will build up some clear trends and add-ons. Gartner has collated some of them:
1. With increasingly mobile workforce, stronger Identity and access management (IAM) will be needed to authenticate user access. This will need to focus on:
adaptive access control and
This too, may not be adequate, especially for smaller devices, so there will a trend towards Adaptive Access Control, using additional information like user location and behavioural patterns to increase the security assurance.
2. A number of cross device and platform security controls may sometimes even defeat the whole exercise. Managing so many access codes is a challenge in itself, so security capabilities will need to be on a single, uniform platform- preferably on a cloud.
3. User Experience (UX) is today’s measure of success for any mobile device or project. This, then, is emerging as the most critical component of mobile app development, especially for enterprise applications.
4. Greater use of mobile-enabled enterprise social networks driven by content is slowly making the enterprise workspace a giant office with no boundaries – both in terms of content for communication as well as corporate data.
5. Increasing use of WLANs for mission critical communication give rise to issues like poor performance, insufficient coverage or lack of service for the BYODs. Especially the unique BYOD challenges need to be factored in the updates security policies for mobility. The solutions could create a whole new trend in network capacity, managing bandwidth, separating BYOD devices from corporate devices, adding IP voice services and expanding online data mobile access.
6. Enterprise is embracing BYOD for various reasons of productivity and customer support but this trend seems to be on its way out, Gartner estimates, 38% of the CIOs will withdraw BYOD from their orgs by 2016. The challenges are not new – information security, device management and workspace delivery. The answer often lies in a strong MDM, which is consistent across platforms, and this may be the way forward for a controllable BYOD risk.
So these are the expected trends that will keep the future of enterprise mobility shining.
But are enterprises ready for this disruption? Industry sources mull over the question, and then feel that some of them are and some of them are in the process of upgrading the networks to make them open and converged. From the point of view of being technologically prepared, the new gen applications, channel partners feel, are totally future ready for the connected environment. “In fact,” opines Sarvanan, “enterprises have already started seamlessly operating in a connected environment. SAP offers real-time user experience through its product offering SAP Fiori that delivers unmatched responsiveness using the power of SAP HANA platform. Its business suite applications use SAP Fiori UX to provide a more personalized and role-based user experience for enterprise-wide engagement across various lines of businesses. Furthermore, it provides optimal usability on multiple devices for the best business interactions. These next age technology products are completely designed to aid a collaborative and connected work environment.”
Challenges and Mitigation
However, despite these trends, what is really the future of the technology per se, in the eyes of enterprise? Suffice to say, not all are fawning, there are some grey areas where confidence in the golden glow of enterprise mobility slightly wanes.
Let’s start with some hard facts that speak a not too clear story. In a research done across 100 CIOs across Asia Pac and Mideast-Africa, the emerging markets, Greyhound Research discovered some of these grey areas. Let’s get the positives first:
• More than 70 percent of the enterprises interviewed were either already running or planning a mobility technology expansion project
• More than 70 percent of the respondents have plans to spend on new enterprise mobility projects like CRM, BI and HCM getting on to the mobile.
• More than 65 percent organizations believe mobility adds to employee productivity, and hence have earmarked IT budgets for them.
And now for the grey parts:
• More than 30 percent faced unclear policies for multiple users and roles among others.
• More than 32 percent organizations were finding it a challenge to develop apps that can run efficiently across multiple operating systems
• More than 50 percent IT decision makers did not know where to source mobility applications and how to deal with the ensuing security issues.
• More than 30 percent respondents were unclear on identifying a partner for enterprise-grade mobility apps
The Channels Role
The CEO of Greyhound Research, Sanchit Vir Gogia has very clear doubts about how the markets are taking to enterprise mobility. From channel partner perspective, he feels, we have not yet reached the mark of perfection. “Clearly most channel partners do not understand mobility from a complete perspective. They know MDM, they know devices and they do have insights into what these can do for the enterprise. But to be able to sell it, one needs a value chain perspective.” A large number of legacy application users are struggling with this new paradigm, maybe it’s more important to get them upto modernising first. Channel partners, he feels, should be the right people for offering complete solutions, but that will happen only when they have clarity on what mobility can do. That is still a long way off. What they need to work on is how to make the mobile apps enterprise ready, so they can add value more than mere the convenience of mobility. They need to ensure the applications can be operable on the cloud- be cloud ready, in order to move any further. They need to be clear on access control applications, the other security policies and technologies that are so essential for mobility. These nitty gritties need to be taken care of before the channels become real partners in the business of enterprise nobility. “Of course there are some really good support and channel partners in the market,” he adds,”but the bulk is not there yet.”
It works both ways. Communication of the benefits is key to clarity. As Neeraj says, “Channel partners need work with clients and educate them regarding the availability of niche applications and solutions in the market which can drive their productivity. So a conversation giving a clear picture of Enterprise mobility benefits is necessary for channel partners.”
So, while adoption of enterprise mobility is the new way forward, what is really relevant is, how is the seller’s market fighting the doubts and mitigating the challenges.
Clearly, the biggest challenge in selling a technology and related devices is its adoptability and relevance to the market. India, unlike the global market is a people driven market place. Merely being a proficient an extremely versatile technology may not cut the deal. “As a technology, it is perfect on paper. But its real value lies in its adoptability and how fast or easy it can be implemented,” says Subramaniam Madhira, founder and CEO of Chennai-based OmniNet Systems. “In India, there are certain barriers that may be the bigger challenges to the popularity of enterprise mobility, the biggest being the infrastructure and connectivity. Interoperability and systems integrability is one of the major challenges in adopt as well as channel sales. Agrees Neeraj,” Most of the standard applications are compatible with the three operating systems and an application can be modified as well to become compatible with any operating system so interoperability is not a big challenge. The biggest challenge is a lack of consistent network coverage which prevails even in major cities of the country.”
But Sanjiv Bhavnani from Mentorpreneur Advisors feels that the infrastructure in the country is all set in the Enterprise Mobility Space, “The networks are good in the country and the presence of abundant devices and applications for Enterprise Mobility reflects that the technology is ready to take a launch in the country,’’ he says.
Sarvanan of Kaar Technologies feels an efficient channel partner can meet all these challenges, “with a detailed Mobility technology roadmap and an appropriate business -mobile process mapping, smooth mobility migration is always easy for any enterprise, “he says. Even for organizations operating with legacy systems (or) multiple standalone systems, mobile adoption and integration will not be a challenge if the right mobility-based IT and business strategy is in place.
Agreeing to Anuradha, Manish Sanghrajka, Founder of ComPrompt Solutions adds that channel partners should create awareness among the enterprises via demonstration of Enterprise Mobility’s capability. ‘Channel Partners if possible should implement Mobility in their premises first and need to initiate a conversation with the organisations detailing them the benefits of the technology,’’ says Sanghrajka.
Another challenge – that of making every business application compatible with enterprise mobility and that will actually drive adoption as well. Sounds confusing but, IT teams across enterprises gearing up to getting all their business operations to be mobility friendly. But with the kind of varied landscapes and legacy applications that most function on, it’s an uphill task. Traditional enterprise apps have been mostly windows, and the rest of the applications landscape is extremely varied. Getting them all together on one platform will be a challenge for any team- and then there is the small matter of making them mobile friendly. “Enterprises are ready to switch to Mobility However the real problem which organizations are facing is transforming to a more mobile environment which is daunting process and lack of clear cut policies are adding to the problem,” opines Neeraj. No mean task, this!
Security, many argue, is a big challenge as well, but with an efficient and robust device management and MDM in place, the risk can be mitigated to a very large extent. “Data leakage is getting to be a serious threat due to adoption of SmartPhones and tablets which opens up access for mails and intranet applications, “says Anuradha, “”currently there is a trend for need of MDM solutions but customers with compliance point of view are only trying to address it by keeping the devices away from enterprise network.” All the organisation needs is to have security policies that tie in with the newer apps, and ensure they are all on a connected platform, preferably on the cloud. That will ensure no tying down for any app and threats and vulnerability will be much better mitigated.
Ronny Serrao from Essen Vision further briefs about how secure the Enterprise Mobility Ecosystem has become from the data security perspective. ‘’With the adoption of Enterprise Mobility Organisations can cut down on their CAPEX by skipping the investment on new PCs and other IT peripherals. Also with new security solutions in place there is an effective categorisation of data taking place with which Enterprises can decide as to which applications will be managed by the enterprise which can be wiped out remotely in case of a device theft,’’ he says.
With increasing business volatility and the uncertain climates that never seem to end, mobility may be just what enterprises can use for meeting their current business challenges. Budgets that are slashed to the bone, and then some; connected markets that leave no scope for error and furiously fast emerging technology paradigms, all are creating a climate of super speedy product and services development. After all, in the lethally competitive markets that we see today, speed is of essence. Here enterprise mobility may play a vital role in generating efficiencies and crunching timelines and costs. Teams armed with the anytime, anywhere advantage of enterprise mobility, can be just what the organisations need to keep afloat. Soon, it will not be a choice but a business imperative. In some industries it already is, and all others are not far behind.
The trick to get it right, so as not get diverted or shackled by the myriad this mercurial technology poses, is to keep a focus on the goal- its utility and its functionalities. In fact, due to the pervasiveness of mobility in enterprise, business models are being changed and upgraded.
The roadmap for the way ahead needs to be focused on how it can provide even greater value to customer experience, because at the end of the day, that is the key to business success.
Source: ITVAR News