Dec 16

Will mobility management break away from IT?

Mobility is increasingly about business and innovation (and less and less about the delights of technology).  From analysis of recent research into the management of mobility (produced in three Reports – see Note 1), Constellation Research sees a widening and deepening gap growing between an enterprise’s approach to mobility and its management and IT.  This has the potential both to deliver innovation plus diminish and reshape IT, and many of the vendors which sell to IT.

Mobility is already an attractive option for enterprises to escape the ‘dead-hand clutch’ of much of IT — where that ‘dead-hand’ represents the length of time and cost taken to deliver business-relevant applications.  Some part of this slowness of delivery come from the super-complexity of software sold in the past by the likes of IBM, Oracle, SAP and many others; some part can be attributed to the perceived disconnect between IT from the essence of business – the delivery of value.  Unsurprisingly, this ‘dead-hand’ is not an aspect that executives value; rather, they want to bury it.

What Constellation Research’s analysis of managing mobility shows is that:

  • Swiftness of execution matters hugely to businesses (and swiftness is considered in the whole, from initial idea through development to deployment and operation, irrespective of whether for internal or external use); small, simple apps for smartphones and/or tablets delivered fast and often, and then gradually enhanced, have become business delivery differentiators
  • Simplicity is both desirable and necessary: increasingly users expect (irrespective of whether this is reasonable) nearly all interactions — including with enterprise IT — to be as ‘simple’ as they find with personal apps on a modern smartphone or tablet
  • There exist already a wealth of excellent and available mobile management solutions an enterprise can acquire and deploy at reasonable cost; enterprises are asking: ‘why bother with the traditional IT approaches when so much can be done relatively inexpensively and without involvement of traditional development and operations?’
  • There is minimal (or trivial) integration of most mobile management solutions to existing systems management suites (Patrol, Unicenter, OpenView, Tivoli, etc); this is relevant because, in the past, one way for IT to ‘absorb’ alien technologies was by obliging inclusion within systems management; from the evidence in the Reports, this seems less and less likely to occur for mobility
  • The emerging acceptance of Bring Your Own Device, which includes laptops as well as tablets and smartphones, suggests that the removal of overall mobile device management from IT (including PCs) may occur sooner rather than later; mobile apps are even seen (by some) as a way to bypass traditional IT, and especially the pains of IT application development and subsequent operation.

When you consider these, plus a supporting range of other factors, the outlook for IT involvement in managing mobility looks less and less promising.

Plus there is a further aspect: speed.  In the mobile space of 2011 and 2012 everything is changing and ever so rapidly.  One example: RIM was the market leader 3 years ago and has lost its gloss, possibly forever if mobile management support for RIM’s platforms is the measure.  Another example, the Android OS currently receives more than 500K activations/day (far outstripping iOS). A third example: iOS and Android between them have encouraged >29Billion app downloads to date.

What IT (and traditional vendors of IT) need to accept is that, in the mobile context, their enormous asset base of super-complex software (and infrastructure), though highly capable, takes simply too long to deliver results to business units when compared to what can occur when applying mobility.  Think about the cost and tardiness implications when developing a secure business app using normal enterprise application development suites.  To do so is beyond mind boggling — especially when compared with how fast mobile apps can be developed, deployed and in use.  Traditional complexity, cost and time to deliver mean that conventional application development and operations are:

  • not so much using a sledge hammer to drive in a nail
  • more like requiring a shipyard crane to move an ant.

Business impatience is set to win.  Yes, this has been said before.  Yet, for the first time in a generation, new mobile technologies offer simplicity, mobility and the potential to deliver what businesses want, even if that means breaking the existing IT application and operations model (even, perhaps, because it will act to break the existing IT model). As such, Constellation Research sees enterprises beginning to consider the relocation of responsibility for most form of mobility to another, more user-considerate, part of the enterprise.

Mobility is already a game changer in many industries (from healthcare to transportation to banking to logistics to government).  If mobility management moves outside IT, this will represent the thin end of an expanding wedge that will change the dynamics of enterprise IT.  In effect, mobility will confirm itself yet again as a vehicle to deliver innovation, in this case changing the IT landscape (along with a diverse range of vendors within that landscape. What is puzzling is that so many are so complacent (but the same might be said about the Euro and/or the US deficit, which are of even greater significance.)

Note 1:
The MoDM, MADM and MEM (Mobile Device Management, Mobile Apps+Data Management and Mobile Enterprise Management) series from Constellation Research includes:

  • MoDM, MADM and MEM: What You Should Expect For Managing Mobile Devices” (published October 2011); this looks at how and why managing mobility has assumed so much importance so fast
  • “MoDM, MADM and MEM: Report 2 – Managing Mobile Devices in the Enterprise” (Available December 2011 and addressing market trends plus key capabilities enterprises should expect in MoDM, MADM and MEM mobile management software)
  • “MoDM, MADM and MEM: Report 3 – 100+ Mobile Management Capabilities Relevant to Enterprise Customers”  (available December 2011 and providing a reference and comparison base as to what capabilities the following vendors offer: Airwatch, Amtelnet, Boxtone, Capricode, Equinux, FAMOC, Fiberlink, Good Tech, Kaseya, MAD, Nukona, SAP, SoTI, Tangoe and Trellia).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *