Dan Bieler, Henry Dewing, Henning Dransfeld, Katyayan Gupta, Brownlee Thomas, and Michele Pelino
Vodafone hosted its annual global analyst event in London recently, and it was a good event. Vodafone’s CEO Vittorio Colao kicked it off with a passionate endorsement of Vodafone’s enterprise ambitions. But will Vodafone’s market position as a leading mobile telco give it a tangible advantage in the broader enterprise global telecoms marketplace? We believe there is a good chance it will because:
Vodafone’s integrated pitch is credible. Vodafone comes up in nearly every conversation with Forrester enterprise clients that want to consolidate vendors for multicountry or “global” mobility services. Increasingly, our clients also are asking about Vodafone’s wired services. And those based in the UK and Germany are the most interested in learning about what’s available and what’s coming with respect to fixed-mobile bundling. Vodafone made a big play on fixed-mobile integration, most notably with the acquisitions of Cable & Wireless and Kabel Deutschland. Its network now covers 140 countries, 28 of which support MPLS networks for mobile backhaul. Vodafone also has big plans for refreshing and expanding its international IP backbone network to more than 60 countries.
European IT departments actively deploy mobile capabilities in their organization, edging ahead of their North American counterparts on the journey to provide managed corporate services to their employees, according to Forrester’s Forrsights Mobility Survey, Q2 2013. Our data also showed us that:
European IT leaders prefer to control the distribution of corporate applications. Forty-three percent of European respondents report that they have implemented or plan to implement a corporate mobile application store within the next 12 months compared to only 26% of their North American counterparts (see Figure 1). These findings point to a key difference in the European approach: less self-sourcing by the employee, no laissez faire attitude to application sourcing, but active guidance on corporate devices and applications. European IT leaders we spoke to confirm these findings.
European mobile deployments look unstructured and often lack stakeholder alignment. While there is much activity around building out mobile application delivery and investing in the right infrastructure to support mobile engagement, there is no visible pattern or strategy behind many deployments. Many European enterprises fail to apply the classic strategy of starting with a mobile strategy, rolling out mobile device support, and ensuring mobile productivity.
As European IT departments increasingly grapple with rolling out mobile workplace services beyond classic device protection, the debate is turning to technology ROI calculations to justify investments. But the purpose of developing such a business case is highly questionable if it is not put into wider strategic context. Take bring-your-own-device (BYOD) as an example. Can you really measure hardware savings through self-provisioning against extra efforts in setting up and communicating a policy, monitoring behavior, implementing additional security measures, and the lack of business continuity support for devices not administered by IT? Even if you could stack up these positions, is it meaningful for your organization going forward?
On the other hand, the prospect of soft business gains is not enough to warrant investment in mobile technology. As highlighted in our recent report, The Expectation Gap Increases Between Business And IT Leaders, business leaders buy into value generated via mobile deployments and integration with social media. But they have less comprehension of the supporting infrastructure upgrades needed in terms of technology innovation or higher bandwidth requirements.
A mobile strategy must be top on the agenda for both IT and business leaders
What is really missing is a comprehensive and conscious deployment strategy linking the technology business case to strategic business objectives. European IT leaders are painfully aware of this and have such a mobile enterprise strategy firmly on their agenda:
Figure 1: How Important Are The Following Organizational Initiatives During The Next 12 Months?
My colleague Reineke Reitsma recently published a blog on the limited but growing uptake of QR/2D barcodes.
Let’s face reality. Usage is low and marketing execution is poor to date, with too many campaigns that lack a clear consumer benefit and that provide a bad user experience by not offering mobile-optimized content. Today, mobile bar codes are an interesting tactic to engage with early adopters.
However, moving forward, we expect QR codes to gain traction and to be increasingly mixed with other technologies (including radio technologies like NFC) to provide extended product packaging solutions. Bar codes do not have to be just cold, emotionless, black-and-white squares. Solutions now exist to personalize QR codes’ designs and seamlessly mix them into a logo or band chart – even merging QR codes and NFC tags, as in the example below from mobiLead solutions.
The 2D bar code market will follow the same path as the 1D bar code market: fulfilling the need for certified and scalable platforms dealing with millions of standard code generation. Mobile bar code vendors will have to move into scalable mobile engagement platforms, progressively integrating multiple access technologies, such as Near Field Communications (NFC) tags, image recognition, or audio tags such as Shazam, and offering deep analytical tools. Beyond the emerging role of 2D bar codes in sales, we expect a growing number of brands — especially in the nutrition and health space — to systematize the use of bar codes on product packaging. Consumers want access to more product information, and brands can leverage mobile technologies to create a consumer relationship.
That’s kind of a bold statement to make when many companies — be they media players or the likes of Facebook — face a mobile monetization gap and when most successful companies generate only dozens of millions of dollars of direct mobile transactions. Despite the hype around “freemium” models, the reality is that few companies can now rely on a standalone mobile business model and that most mobile business models remain unproven.
The Web extended most business models and created only a small number of truly successful new ones. Mobile will follow the same path: Extension, rather than disruption, will be the norm for most businesses, with a few disruptive mobile pure-plays as the exception but not the rule. That doesn’t mean, however, that mobile-first businesses won’t disrupt existing players. Mobile is an enabler of new direct-to-consumer products already, in industries such as car services, food delivery, and home health products. And mobile is disrupting born-on-the-Web companies such as Facebook.