Enterprise mobility in 2014 review – and what’s in store for 2015

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The last 12 months in enterprise mobility have been fascinating. BYOD has become increasingly entrenched in organisational policy, yet there are still – rightly – security concerns, with the source of blame not pointed so much at malware and hackers, but employees mislaying data through error or ignorance.

The drive towards the mobile office continued apace, and collaboration tool usage has seen a rise, although remains immature. The push towards wearables, hyped enormously after success at events such as CES, failed to ignite in the enterprise. As for the market overall, growing maturity and consolidation meant a fair share of partnerships and M&A; some expected, some not.

Before we get to the 2015 predictions, here’s a quick summary of the most important events in enterprise mobility in 2014:

2014 in mobility

January: AirWatch is bought by VMware. Enterprise mobility management (EMM) provider AirWatch was bought by end user computing giant VMware, joining the likes of Citrix and IBM in snapping up an MDM/EMM vendor. Enterprise AppsTech was the first publication to speak with AirWatch EMEA MD Ian Evans, who admitted there were times when going public seemed the more likely option for the Atlanta-based firm.
Read more: AirWatch: A billion dollar journey from Wi-Fi to EMM

March: Microsoft rolls out Office 365 on iPads. A month after Satya Nadella rose to become Microsoft’s CEO, the company launched bespoke Office 365 apps for iPads, immediately giving a strategic change in direction from the walled garden Ballmer and Jobs era. At the press conference, Nadella spoke of “the magical coming together of cloud and mobile” – a theme the Microsoft chief has strongly pushed ever since.
Read more: Microsoft unveils Office for iPad, CEO Nadella notes “magical” cloud-mobile mix

April/May: Good and MobileIron file for IPO. After EMM rival AirWatch was bought by VMware in January, Good Technology and MobileIron went public within months of each other. MobileIron’s accumulated deficit, according to the financial documents, was $128.8m, while Good’s stood at $608.8m, inferring the hot nature of the mobile market - and it was perhaps too hot for Good, who postponed their IPO in October.
Read more: MobileIron files for $100m IPO, outlines company future
Read more: Good Technology files for IPO: The road which has led them this far

July: IBM and Apple hook up to deliver enterprise apps. IBM and Apple announced a partnership whereby iPhones and iPads will be shipped to the enterprise market with IBM apps, putting a block on Google, Microsoft and BlackBerry’s plans. Last month the first set of enterprise apps from the pair were launched.
Read more: IBM and Apple hook up in big partnership “to transform enterprise mobility”

August: California BYOD court ruling hits employer in the pocket. In what was seen as a landmark ruling, a court in California ruled that Schwan’s Home Service had to appropriately reimburse one of its employees for taking work calls on a personal device, although the ruling did not take into account SMS or data.
Read more: California court rules company must reimburse employees for BYOD devices

September: BlackBerry bites back with Passport phone. In the aftermath of the IBM/Apple hook up BlackBerry’s shares tanked, with The Register even printing the firm’s postal address in case anyone wanted to send the senior execs “some flowers or bottles of hard liquor.” Yet the Canadian giant, resurgent under new CEO John Chen, came back by releasing the square shaped Passport phone. It was a clear enterprise play, but as a clear second phone, had it missed the boat?
Read more: BlackBerry unveils Passport phone: Has it hit the target in enterprise?

2015 in mobility?

It’s certainly been a busy year with plenty of surprises.  But what is in store for 2015?

Wearables will arrive, but only in baby steps. 2014 saw wearables approach the zeitgeist, but not quite hit it. This is particularly down to the consumer disapproval towards Google Glass last year, although some experts say it could still become a major player in the enterprise. Will 2015 be any different?

Mitch Black is the president of MOBI Wireless Management. He sees the prevalence of consumer smartwatches in the market late last year as a catalyst for enterprise strategy this year. “The more mobile a company’s culture is, the more impact wearable devices will have on business,” he explains.

“Laptops, smartphones and tablets were born to promote mobility and convenience. Now wearables are here to take that idea one step further.”

For Jeremy Roche, CEO of FinancialForce, enterprise wearables hold tremendous value for businesses. “Currently we are at the tip of the iceberg and with continued innovations in enterprise application development over the next year, I believe wearables will become a critical business tool,” he says.

MDM: continued push towards EMM but challenges remain. Israel Lifshitz, CEO of Nubo, believes  that as enterprise mobility management is still in the “honeymoon stage” of implementation, 2015 is the year when security flaws will be uncovered.

“Many security vendors have added MAM and MIM (mobile information management) tools to MDM – packaged as EMM, they still do not add up to the comprehensive enterprise mobility solution that enterprises require,” he says. “Since MDM is still anchoring this approach, the limits of EMM will surface as employee feedback starts cycling back to organisations.”

Cathal McGloin is VP mobile platforms at Red Hat. He expects to see the emergence of players in the mobile space that can marry modern mobile tools, frameworks and platforms to traditional enterprise systems, creating a mobile middleware-like layer which sits between mobile devices. “The embrace of many tools and frameworks, the ability to offload workloads from the mobile app and secure, reliable and scalable connectivity to existing enterprise systems and data, will characterise this new layer which will come to be seen as an enterprise mobile application platform,” he explains.

Market consolidation will continue. In such a nascent, rapidly evolving market the VC cash and acquisition deals didn’t slow up in 2014. This looks fair set to continue in 2015, according to McGloin, who was CEO of mobile backend provider FeedHenry, now VP mobile platforms at Red Hat.

“All of the major consumer mobile players are increasing their focus on the enterprise customer,” he said. “We expect to see more of the big technology vendors broaden their footprint in enterprise mobility, through partnerships, M&A, and in-house projects.”

Less focus on the app, more focus on the platform. 2015 will see a continued push towards platforms rather than developing apps, according to McGloin. “The focus will shift to the underlying architectures that support agility and continuity of mobile projects,” he explains. “This maturation will create opportunities for platform as a service vendors to offer a broad set of enterprise services.”

Despite that, app development will still be prevalent, but through reusable component-based approaches – an idea already spoken about by Simon Pitt, BBC head of mobile. “Mobile devices and apps have created the need for more agile software development,” explains McGloin. “With this, an API-based and microservices approach to app development has emerged, where components can be centrally managed and easily accessed and reused across company-wide app projects.”

“The emergence of this approach to application development will permeate back to traditional enterprise development, and lead to greater collaboration across the development platform by developers of all types,” he adds.

This view is shared by Burley Kawasaki, SVP products at Kony. "Next year, the notion of a backend as a service will become more enterprise grade," he said. "It will offer richer connectivity to the enterprise and offer more than just infrastructure notifications and support for wearables and other devices over and above just smartphone and tablets."

For Roche, 2015 will signify a greater push towards a less siloed enterprise app landscape, already foreshadowed by solutions on the market which offer workflows, rather than specific job tasks.

“Looking forward, we’ll start to see more consolidation between mobile business applications that perform separate functions, and overall deeper functionality that enable professionals to do far more with their smartphones and tablets,” he says.

The role of the CIO continues to evolve. Vidya Phalke, CTO at MetricStream, believes that as enterprises become more mobile and get hold of more data, contextualisation of information will be key for the CIO in 2015.

“Real time collaboration across organisational groups becomes imperative,” he says. “In 2015, CIOs across organisations will face all new challenges when it comes to ensuring the same user experience, reliability and security, while also facilitating access to users across various platforms and devices.”

The CIO will also become more risk-intelligent and create an appropriate governance framework which supports business continuity, data security and data privacy, according to Phalke.

“The CIO role will continue to evolve to help the organisation mitigate all of the associated technology risks, as well as manage regulatory compliance to ensure continuous customer and organisation success,” he explains. “When it comes to driving the business strategy and risk appetite of tomorrow’s digital organisation, the CIO will emerge as one of the most critical advisers.”

What do you think is going to happen in enterprise mobility this year?

 

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