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Home-made or Off-the-Rack? The Changing Consumption Pattern of Enterprise Mobility

May 13, 2016 No Comments

Featured article by Mary Brittain-White, CEO, Retriever Communications

Gartner in it’s “IT Market Clock for Enterprise Mobility” (September 2015) has as one of its key findings that organizations still “struggle with the broader challenges brought by rapidly evolving device types, internal use cases and customer requirements” however even with this difficulty, internal appetites have moved to “more complex use cases, and the focus is shifting from basic communications and productivity toward digital transformation of the business.

So just as the IT department and their enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors were just getting a handle on delivering simple mobile apps to the enterprise, the goals have moved again. The business user does not just want the ease of use of their consumer mobile app experience, they want to have sophisticated capability in the field to change how they deliver to the organization.

So the two iOS programmers that IT have chained to a wall for delivering mobile travel request apps, expenses or worse – timesheet applications not tied into a business workflow – need to be released. And with them the formbuilders that promise to simply mobilize paper. End users want real assistance in digitizing field work to achieve substantive productivity. These current mobile solutions are too much like fax machines – they address moving the data from one point to another but there is no consideration of where this sits in the whole organizational process.

So why does the business now want more holistic in-field solutions?

It is simply because of the benefits: line-of-business applications deliver better information quality, improved procedural compliance, double digit productivity improvements, transparency of work done to their customers and a very healthy and measurable return on investment “ROI”. In contrast, simple office systems extension Apps, which have been the focus of many IT departments to date, are solely about where the data entry can be done rather than improving the bottom line.

So can these complex line-of-business Apps be developed in-house by a company’s IT department or your friendly systems integrator? The answer is of course yes, but this is asking the wrong question.

The right question is “Why would you want them to?”

The issues with bespoke line-of-business app development includes:

- Speed of deployment: Rarely under 12 months from gaining approval to live in field, the business is tired of the conversation before you even see the first user in production.

- Ongoing maintenance of the app and feature enhancements when queued behind other IT business cases. This is also exasperated by the constant and unavoidable change in mobile device operating systems.

- Higher cost over the life of the project than from an off-the-shelf product.

However, if the process which you need mobilized is highly unique, internal development may be the only choice – if this is the case basing the development on a mobility platform will shorten considerably the project duration and allow easier adaption to future mobile operating system changes. But such Apps are likely less than 30 percent of the market need, the bulk being satisfied by a new breed of mobile enterprise products.

These new mobility products deliver fast deployment, low risk projects and the promise of on-going product enhancements with little customer investment. Indeed, the move in market preference from home grown to off the rack product reflects normal maturing of a software market segment. There are however key attributes which are required for a successful selection of an enterprise mobility product, they include:

- App Vs HTML5: End users prefer apps to HTML5 solutions as the latter have substantial issues in working off line; you simply cannot tell a worker that they can only work when in coverage, it should not be their concern.

- Mobile Platform Independence: Your app needs to support all key platforms of Android, iOS and Windows. Taking a bet on what operating system will be most appropriate for your end users is an avoidable risk.

- Enforced Workflow: The ability to configure the app to reflect your company’s in field workflows. Workflow in this context means that the app covers all the activities of a specific task and enforces full completion of all key aspects before the task can be completed.

- Robust Integration: Commonly, many integration points are required into current back office systems for a single App. These connections need to be easy and robust for a full ROI to be achieved.

So our Gartner market clock also observes that “enterprise adoption at scale is low, and widespread adoption is still a future occurrence”. So the choices are still ahead of us and the market question has become “What is your dress sense?”.

Mary BW hi res 199x300 Home made or Off the Rack? The Changing Consumption Pattern of Enterprise Mobility

About Mary Brittain-White

After 20 years in the wireless data industry, of which 16 years are with Retriever, Mary Brittain-White has established herself as a thought leader in the area of wireless field automation. Prior to founding Retriever, she worked for a Silicon Valley based Motorola subsidiary, RadioMail, which pioneered wireless email. From University, she joined IBM and over a 14 year career there held Sales and Marketing executive management roles. She has a Bachelor of Economics from Sydney University and a post graduate Executive Development program from Melbourne University.



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