I recently gave a talk at CTIA on mobile enterprise – it was great to see the enthusiasm in the audience but also the fear that was mostly unwarranted based on horror stories of deploying and integrating with the enterprise. Mobile enterprise by definition is broad and includes everything from internal apps for employees (eg request a taxi app), point solutions (eg mobile radiology app), MDM (mobile device management), mobile security (eg remote wipe), mobile field sales/service etc solutions (eg Antenna Software) and much more…
In any case, I’m hoping to push the enthusiasm forward by summarizing some themes which I think will make this a very exciting space!
Individual Liable Devices
The growing mobile enterprise ecosystem is partially being driven by enterprises now allowing employees to use their own smartphones for work. Whereas previously, employees would be issues a corporate device (known as corporate liable), employees can now use their own devices (known as individual liable) for accessing corporate data etc.
This has resulted in a second wave of new mobile device management companies such as MobileIron and AirWatch but has also created new demand for enterprise apps. Enterprises can now more “safely” make their internal data/systems with MDM (mobile device management) solutions enabling features such as remote wipe, now the demand has shifted to apps that can leverage it!
Enterprise App Stores
Riding the individual liable theme and MDM deployments, enterprise app stores are beginning to emerge. Companies like Ondeego are focused on making it easy to deploy, provision (and maintain upgrades) for enterprise apps. Enterprises want distinct app stores for their employees where apps can be certified as trusted and not made public in the general app store. Apple, for a licensing fee, now makes available an enterprise app store for the largest enterprises; unfortunately, SMBs are still stuck having to pay the 30% Apple tax.
I hate using the word cloud because it almost sounds cliché but enterprises in mass are adopting cloud systems. Whereas standard services such as email were hosted on-site, enterprises are now using SAAS/cloud variants such as Microsoft BPOS (aka Office 360) or Gmail. Similarly other core services such as storage (eg Box, Dropbox), Wikis (eg Confluence, Basecamp), Collaboration (eg Yammer, SocialText) and so forth are offered as cloud/hosted services – what the role of the CIO is in 10 years is yet to be determined?!
In any case, as a developer, open enterprise data means you can now integrate with this data whereas previously tedious on-premise integration would have been required – a painful and IT dependent task.
Business to Individual
Most are familiar with B2B (Business to Business) and B2C (Business to Consumer) but a term I’ve begun to evangelize is B2I (Business to Individual). Traditionally, selling to the enterprise required an enterprise sale. You would pitch the CIO or IT department and sell your product top-down. With enterprise data becoming more available and with mobile app store distribution and billing, new enterprise startups can now sell directly to the employee/individual. Evernote and LinkedIn are great examples where employees adopt and pay for these services and than expense the cost to the company. As a startup, B2I is disruptive in that it does not require the traditional investment required for enterprise sales.
Dual Profile Phones
VMWare and others have been pushing the concept of dual-profile phones. In a dual-profile mode, your phone is like your Windows desktop in that you can have two distinct logins. One is meant for personal use and the other is meant for enterprise use. Not yet clear is to what extent the profiles are truly separated and most important what the actual UX feels like to the user. For example, there are several apps that I use for personal and work; there are also several contacts I SMS for both personal and work. Switching between profiles may feel tedious and quickly ignored. Where it gets more tricky is if apps are allowed to share memory space or not. If I save a bookmark in my work profile, does it show up in my personal profile? Do my photos sync? And so forth…
Outside of VMWare, operators are also incentivized for this to succeed. With two profiles attached to the device, you can have two accounts/subscriptions attached to the device. One subscription would be paid for by the employee and the other presumably by the enterprise. For the operator, this is a clever way to continue subscriber growth in a market (US) where we are 90%+ mobile market saturation.
Above is just a quick summary of some of the many exciting things happening in the enterprise – much more to come!
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