Mobility investments moving more towards the business – but is this the full story?


How are organisations investing in mobile technology, and what will 2017 bring? These are among the questions that Nick McQuire, VP enterprise at CCS Insight and contributor to this publication, has been exploring in his recent work.

The latest edition of CCS Insight’s enterprise IT buyers survey landed at the very back end of 2016, with lots of continuity but some interesting and challenging findings. The study, which quizzed 400 mobile technology decision makers in Europe and the US found almost three quarters (74%) of total spending on mobility is now made outside of IT, up five percentage points from the previous year. Buyers argue there is a 25% improvement in worker productivity through mobility investments, while Microsoft Office remains the most supported app for employees, alongside Skype, Google Apps, Dropbox, and Facebook.

The changing realm of mobility spend has long been covered by this publication, so the natural question was around where the puck may fall next. Is the move from IT to line of business as arbiters of technology budget inextricable? McQuire can see both sides of the argument. “It’s a really tricky one,” he tells Enterprise AppsTech. “Centralised IT budgets are increasingly under constraint, and a large proportion of those are just keeping the lights on around traditional IT projects.

“Funding innovation, in inverted commas, is really difficult, and prioritising where the new stuff gets funded is always difficult for centralised budgets,” McQuire adds. “We’re seeing more and more of that handshaking with the business, and more of that budget control is happening at the business level, they’re the ones who see the business value benefit, and IT is just this curator [or] advisor to that, obviously with some form of governance and standards in terms of the selection.”

There are a couple of points to note here, McQuire argues; yes, it is increasingly a case of ‘whoever signs the cheque’ having the final say, but there are some mobility investments for which it makes sense that other departments handle. Take retail as an example. IT will usually configure and deploy it, but putting multiple devices and screens out there on the shop floor will be funded by the business.

With regard to apps, again this publication has covered the trend towards low code, or no code applications, and so this frees up IT to do more of the heavy lifting. “They sell through the CIO, not to the CIO anymore,” says McQuire. “It’s early days but generally I think IT’s preference in this, because they’re so burdened, is to do more empowerment of the business.”

Equally, which devices will organisations choose? If we’re talking employee smartphones, then a gap has opened up in the mid-range market. Enterprises may well balk at the thought of deploying thousands of iPhones to the organisation – McQuire argues that Apple will begin to see its grip on the enterprise mobile market loosened in 2017 – so can Google and Samsung capitalise?

“That’s just a wide-open market,” says McQuire. “Who’s stepping in? Samsung at the moment – I think there’ll be others.” Adding that there is still reticence with security and standardisation, the CCS VP notes that banks are pushing ahead with Android and could form a ‘big change’ for the operating system’s overall perception. “You’ve [also] got the broader use case for Android, whether that’s field service, rugged, kiosking…these environments where Android is actually quite successful. Those are some of the areas where Apple just doesn’t play.

“If the confidence level in Android happens, and that grows – we’re predicting it will – there’s still challenges there. We think they’ll do it because there’s just that pent up demand for a solid mid-range device, frankly.”

Of the banks that are pushing ahead, one of the poster children for the revolution is CaixaBank. As this publication reported last year, more than four in five contracts signed by its customers are digital. What’s more, 100% of their 30,000 plus employees are mobilised. This brings with it problems as well as advantages, yet one of the other important points McQuire wishes to make is still around the general immaturity of the industry.

“I always find that surprising when I look at this survey. We tend to think the vast majority of enterprises are developing apps, deploying these applications, governing and managing, they have the strategies and they’re looking at tools. It’s well discussed in the industry…but the reality is that only the minority of enterprises are doing that,” he says. “Where there’s mass activity happening is down into the individual and departmental level. I think that’s reflected in spend but it’s also reflected in consumption.”

If Apple’s grip on this market is slipping, as McQuire suspects, then it’s backed up by the survey data. Whereas this time last year 48% of respondents put Cupertino as the leading brand giving it a large majority over Microsoft on 34%, this year the two companies are both equal on 35%. Samsung takes the bronze medal on 23%, followed by Google (21%) and a gap to Cisco (9%).

Writing in a blog post about the survey results, McQuire says that Microsoft has won the last year ‘propelled by a big year in security, cloud, productivity apps and the positivity surrounding Windows 10.’ McQuire tells this publication that elements around EMS, security – the company announced a partnership with Lookout in 2016 – and Windows 10 “came out quite well in the survey.”

For security as a whole, while it’s certainly something the media has kept abreast of since day one, it’s going to be a whole new ball game in 2017, particularly in Europe with changing compliance rules and organisations fretting over the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). How mobile will fit into it remains to be seen for now, but companies need to think about it.

“A year ago I think there were bigger problems, and companies were having bigger challenges out there,” explains McQuire. “It’s been a significant shift towards security [in 2016], and we’re going to see more of that next year – and that came out head and tails above everything on the survey; where the investment’s going, where the pain is, and what’s going to drive choice and selection.” in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their use-cases? Attend the co-located IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, AI & Big Data Expo and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam and explore the future of enterprise technology.

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