My mother was a penmanship teacher. She not only taught penmanship, she also knew calligraphy. Back then, people would create beautiful hand-written letters, which required a lot of thought (since you couldn’t correct mistakes), so when people put pen to paper they were already thinking in paragraphs. I have stacks of very artistic looking letters my grandparents wrote to me when I was little, but I have not actually received a hand-written letter in decades (When was the last time you received a hand-written letter? Not a note, an actual letter?). When typewriters became the norm (starting with typing class in high school) the nature of how we communicate started shifting. The emphasis on handwriting skills disappeared, people suddenly had the ability to change what they had written (as long as you didn’t mind dealing with White-Out), but they were still forced to think in paragraphs. Then personal computers came along, and suddenly the need to clearly organize your thoughts before starting became less relevant, because you could make transactional or wholesale changes with a click. Handwriting remained extinct as an art form, but clarity of communication in the end deliverable became more viable.
Fast forward to today. The biggest change by far in our lifetime has been the rise of mobility as a communications enabler. Now we’re at the point where billions of us are in instant, global contact, exchanging 140 character tweets, and speaking in haiku. This is not necessarily a bad thing, there is something to be said for pithiness, but it is another transformative shift in how we exchange information with those around us.
So how does this tie to enterprise mobility?
Because we are all going mobile, which defines the way we will communicate going forward. It’s not just how we communicate with each other, but also how we communicate with enterprise resources. The display space for a mobile device such as an iPhone is very different from that of a desktop PC with a 27 inch monitor, and therefore the way information is delivered to the end user will follow the same haiku model. Mobilizing an enterprise application forces a prioritization of information due to the smaller screen, and reduces it to the Zen of communicating enterprise workflow requirements. This means your mobile workers, workgroups, and associated workflows are going to be forced to deal with the crux of the matter, and any ancillary noise will fall by the wayside. This is a perfect example of less is more, and is one of the core drivers of the ongoing transformation of the enterprise. The question is, what is that crux, and how can you leverage it for competitive advantage?
So Sybase has been nominated (again) for an award, this time by the GSMA (Global Systems for Mobile Communication Association) one of the largest industry associations for mobility. What’s interesting about this particular nomination is the timing and longer-term implications, which points to a much bigger trend that businesses would be well served to track.
The nomination was in the “Best Mobile Enterprise Product or Solution” category for “Afaria—Mobile Device Management and Security”. Afaria, our mobile device management solution, has been an integral part of Sybase’s mobility offering for nearly ten years, and has been by far the dominant player in the mobile device management domain for all of that time.
Given the amount of time Afaria has been around, it has developed a huge presence in securing devices at the enterprise level. Now that Sybase is an integral part of the SAP ecosystem, this trend will not only accelerate, we expect it to move into hyperdrive. SAP brings a vast array of enterprise applications that need to be mobilized, as well as an equally vast global customer base. These two juggernauts deliver a confluence that is one of the core drivers for the transformation of the enterprise.
There are well over four billion mobile subscribers globally, of which you can assume most (if not all) will be accessing corporate data on some level , either consumer-facing as a customer, or internal workflow-facing as an employee. Four billion subscribers, which means an even higher number of devices. A significant percentage of these devices will need to be secured for mobile access to corporate data, either through a service provider or through the enterprise. So what’s the number? Hard to say at this point, but any percentage of four billion is going to be a big number. This all goes back to our Mantra: Secure and Mobilize.
Imagine millions of unsecured devices accessing your website and/or corporate data (and BTW, that’s probably happening right now for some of you). Now consider the variations in device form factor (that is, how much display space you have on either a smart phone or a tablet to get critical information to the user), plus variations in mobile operating systems (and each has its own peculiar permutations in terms of how it can be managed). Millions of devices with potentially thousands of permutations, and that’s just the device end. There’s the whole global ecosystem of enterprise systems that is even more complex, and has to be administered in tandem with managing the devices, and all while delivering a compelling user experience, regardless of whether it’s a customer or an employee.
Afaria has always provided the critical first element to enable a broad range of mobile devices to access corporate data, and now, to wrap the whole solution up, we’ve brought the Sybase Unwired Platform in to handle the job of mobilizing enterprise applications and providing an enabling framework between the enterprise applications and the myriad devices trying to access them. This is the award-winning vision that drives our company’s success, this is the award-winning vision that is driving the transformation of the enterprise, and we’re just getting started.
We recently sponsored a study by Kelton Research on what is keeping IT managers awake at night, specifically in terms of mobility implementations. While some folks might be surprised at the numbers, this seems like confirmation of what we have long been trumpeting: mobility is inevitable, and 2011 will be the year of the transformation of the enterprise.
We’ve been pushing two mantras: Secure, and Mobilize. While the Secure component is what you would expect to keep IT managers up at night (is some unauthorized get-a-life accessing my network and doing unspeakable things to my data?), instead the main concern is how to make all the potentially mobilized applications sing in harmony. Nearly half of the people surveyed (44%) were staring at the ceiling at 3 am and thinking, “how do I integrate applications across device types and deliver a consistent workflow, regardless of whether it’s a smartphone or a tablet?” No need to lose sleep anymore. Once you finish reading this post, feel free to roll over and catch some overdue Z’s.
The issue of integrating apps across devices is a legitimate, complex concern, UNLESS you have a middleware platform, in which case it becomes a concern that can be addressed in a relatively straightforward fashion. The whole point of middleware is to simplify the interaction between a broad array of mobile devices (tablets, smartphones, Android, iOS, etc.) and an even broader array of enterprise applications that up to this point were only accessible if you’re sitting at your desk. What’s also interesting is that this model works equally well if the apps being accessed are in the cloud (which over 80 % of the survey respondent said would likely be beneficial ).
The really interesting statistic (particularly if you sell mobile applications) is the fact that 90% of respondents said they plan to implement new mobile apps this year and almost a fourth said they plan to introduce twenty or more mobile apps. The key takeaway here is the scope of the numbers; 90% is effectively the lion’s share, and (let’s face it) twenty mobilized apps is a nice, fast running start to the mobilization of the enterprise. Why? Because even one mobilized app will result in a significant improvement in responsiveness and speed of execution, and adding more mobilized apps increases productivity exponentially. These are the companies that are going to flip the competition on its back and take global business to the next level. Remember the huge jump when everything went on-line a few years back? Same thing is happening again.
Any cautions? Nearly half the respondents have no mobility plan in place, and the same percentage did not plan to staff around mobility. So here is the issue; lots of companies considering or actually going mobile, but also lots of movement in this direction without giving it the proper thought and support. This is a critical area to focus on; if you don’t plan out a deployment timeline driven by business objectives, your execution is going to be random and reactive—if this is your approach, expect to become very familiar with every square inch of your ceiling. The planning component goes back to three simple starting questions: 1) what does your company do, and how can mobility make it more effective, 2)what do your workers, workgroups and workflows deliver, and how can mobility make them more efficient, and 3) how are your competitors dealing with this (and you’d best assume they get it and are moving aggressively against you).
While the issue of security ran second to issues surrounding mobile application integration, it is still a serious concern to most people we surveyed. It is, however a concern that reflects a lack of familiarity with mobile device management applications, which is a core deliverable against any mobility requirement. The requirement is to secure all mobile devices, regardless of form factor (smart phone or tablet), or operating system (iOS, Android, etc.), and to ensure that securing the device is not left up to the user, most of whom struggle just to turn the device on and off. This is where a strong MDM (mobile device management) solution comes into play, and is an area where Sybase has dominated the market for nearly a decade. Again, time to catch some righteous Z’s.
Also keep in mind this is a mobile paradigm for enterprise applications. The way it looks on the desktop is not the way it looks on a mobile device, and it’s the same for the way you interact with the information. Over half the survey respondents consider customizing company information to a mobile framework as a critical part of doing business—which is good, since it’s pretty much a requirement. This is another area where mobile middleware excels, create an abstraction of the enterprise app that can then be delivered as mobile payload and optimized to the nuances of the device, which are significant (but again, not a problem if you have the right framework in play).
Bottom line? This is the year of the transformation of the enterprise, and these numbers are a good indicator that it’s starting to happen. Are you ready?
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