By Yuval Scarlat, Co-Founder and CEO, Capriza
With mobile devices and private email servers becoming a hot topic in the recent U.S. election, Samsung’s Galaxy recall issues, and the introduction of a new Google-branded phone, 2016 will go down as a year of tremendous activity around mobility. While the technology industry didn’t provide as much headline fodder as certain political candidates, it did prove that major changes are afoot.
As we put 2016 in the rearview mirror, let’s take a look at the enterprise mobility trends that we think will make the most impact in 2017.
Forward-looking companies evolve from mobile-first to mobile-only. Forrester and others have covered this. Organizations with large numbers of personnel at the edges of the enterprise, like field service workers or field sales people, have approached the purchase or development of applications with a mobile-first mindset. The combination of the success achieved with many of these efforts and the significant difference in costs for supporting a laptop-and-mobile employee vs. a mobile-only employee will get more organizations planning with a mobile-only approach for field and remote employees. We’ve seen this evolution before: web-accessible applications evolved to web-only applications, and cloud extensions/alternatives became cloud-only in many cases. We’ll see the same thing happen with mobility in 2017.
Enterprises realize that SaaS alone does not solve the mobility problem. In 2016, some organizations were rudely awakened from a dream. The dream was that replacing an older legacy application with a modern SaaS/Cloud application would magically deliver enterprise mobility and rapid mobile adoption. What they found was that the same enterprise application complexity that limits user adoption of desktop-based applications is also “portable” to mobile platforms. Beyond that, many large organizations will customize their CRM, ERP, and other business applications which can quickly break the out-of-the-box mobile apps from SaaS application providers.
A shortage of mobile developers and designers spawns a wave of mobile “citizen developers.” Demand for enterprise mobile apps continues to surge, and analyst firms like Gartner have predicted that enterprise mobile demand will outstrip IT’s capacity to deliver by a factor of 5 through 2018. Mobile design and development talent is scarce and generally expensive to apply to employee-facing apps. Low-code and no-code technology is paving the way for non-technical professionals to create mobile apps and even share them with peers in communities of mobile citizen developers.
The post-app era comes into clearer focus. While we all love our mobile apps, it’s hard to believe that they offer the optimal interaction model for every user, use case, task, and environment. Chatbots and the artificial intelligence behind them are getting more attention and will offer new ways for mobile interaction with enterprise applications, along with voice, search, and others. Industry analysts have talked about the concept of “app fatigue” from too many apps, and some consumer apps like Fandango are now offering a glimpse into the future, in this case, by allowing users to purchase movie tickets via text or Facebook without ever downloading an app.
New security challenges emerge, and geosecurity goes mainstream. New interfaces will likely create new security challenges as hackers are always looking for interfaces to exploit. Beyond that, widely-varying governmental security and privacy policies around the globe will put more attention on Geosecurity, so that organizations can manage access when employees are in locations where cellular or wifi signals may not be secure.
Consolidation continues. Large infrastructure vendors like VMware and Citrix have already shown an appetite for acquisitions in enterprise mobility. Traditional application mega-vendors who are playing catch-up to the cloud wave may see mobility as a “leapfrog” opportunity to get back in front. Both groups will look to acquisitions to expand and evolve their portfolios more rapidly. Enterprise mobility is a huge overall opportunity, but it takes a lot of time and investment to build an enterprise-ready solution. 2017 will bring additional consolidation of smaller vendors trying to gain critical mass.
IT leverages mobility to reassert its relevance to the business. The cloud wave made it possible for line-of-business functions to select and deploy applications with minimal IT support. In many organizations, that change left IT out of some important conversations and fed a perception that IT wasn’t aligned to the business. Now IT is hungrier than ever to deliver high-business-impact wins. IT is going to “surf” the enterprise mobility and digital transformation waves more broadly to restore its relevance and value.
Line-of-Business IT goes from luxury to necessity. At Capriza, it seems like we’re in more conversations with line-of-business IT professionals with every passing month. These IT people are typically embedded in a departmental function and are close enough to the users and the processes to find solutions through mobility, with the technical credibility to advocate and influence. Central IT will always play an important role around platforms and standards, but line-of-business IT will deliver more business value by becoming embedded in the departmental functions that they support.
In summary, it’s hard to believe that the smartphone made its way into the hands of consumers a mere 10 years ago and the ripple effect is still making its way through the enterprise. No longer is the vision for enterprise mobility a ‘nice to have’ or a fun experiment – in 2017 it’s how business is done as an integral part of any digital transformation initiative.
Capriza is an SAP partner exhibiting and presenting at MWC. Come see Capriza’s Aharon Weiner present at Mobile World Congress, Wednesday, March 1, at 14:00 at the Open Theater at the SAP Stand in Hall 3.