Why Mobility Will — And Does NOW — Matter To EAs And IT

Chris Silva

Here at Forrester, we spend a good deal of time talking about the future of the mobile enterprise. Whether that's an emerging standard for a faster, more capable mobile network or a future of all-out mobile connectivity with applications and devices ready to tap into it.

The fact is, while much talk about mobile has a tone of "impending trend" to it, there are currently many mobility initiatives afoot in your organization, some of which IT knows about, some which it may not. So, as it turns out, while mobile seems to be a lot of futurespeak, it turns out it does actually matter to CIOs, and has been highlighted in Forrester's recent "The Top 15 Technology Trends EA Should Watch" report.

When Forrester thinks about mobility, it splits into three categories:

  • Mobile infrastructure — The networks and services that devices tap into, users rely on and mobile applications rely on to function.
  • Mobile devices — From laptops and netbooks to iPhones, BlackBerries, and other smartphones, these are the devices hosting those mobile applications and tapping into that mobile infrastructure.
  • Mobile applications — What use is a capable, highly-connected device if users can't use a portable or mobile version of an application on the device?

According to the "Top 15..." report, all three areas: mobile networks gaining in power, mobile devices strengthening and mobile apps going mobile each represent an area of high business impact. The upside of arming your users with the combination of these three technology elements can reap great rewards in productivity, user satisfaction and business efficiency.

Why watch these areas of technology development so closely, then? While mobile devices and networks gaining in capacity and capability is more of an organic trend, reflected by its "medium" label in the "newness" category, understanding which applications will make the best use of these devices, and offer users the best potential for more flexible, efficient workstyles is something many organizations Forrester speaks to are still trying to figure out, hence the "very high" ranking in newness?

What to do, then? Take on the least "new" technologies into consideration first and create a strategy around that platform decision.

Step one, understand what the network and device mix is shaping up to be in your organization. As one example; are you focused exclusively on external network use and are a BlackBerry shop? Explore how external carrier-owned networks can extend users' connectivity and establish a device migration timeline to take into account RIM's newest BlackBerry platforms and when and how they'll enter your environment, how they'll be managed and secured. Step two, once this is in place, work with application development teams to ensure the capabilities of both the devices and networks that your organization is standardizing on are taken into account when developing mobile applications or evaluating mobile platform vendors.

Thinking about mobile as not just a "now" technology, but taking into account networks, devices, and software as one connected ecosystem will ensure an investment in one of the three, key areas of mobility does not adversely affect the others. After all, successful implementations of technology will allow it to change business for better, not for worse. See the list of recommendations for IT leaders in our Top 15 technology report here.

So next time you're on a plane, or simply logging into your VPN from the local coffee shop, take note of the experience; is this the way your entire organization should be served in the event of a disaster?

By Chris Silva

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