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What You Need to Know about Enterprise Mobility for 2014

2013 was a banner year for enterprise mobility. In case you weren't keeping track or had an actual day job that kept you away from the day-to-day changes in mobility, here's a look at what you missed.

2013 Enterprise Mobility in Review

Samsung overtook Apple as the market leader in smartphones and is currently the key driver for mobile device innovation on a global basis

The iPhone is quickly transitioning from an innovative groundbreaker to a standard, much as Blackberry was in the mid-2000s and Palm was in the early 2000s. Given what we know about Palm and Blackberry, Apple should be concerned.

Mobile application platforms continue to be bought up left and right

SAP started this trend with the acquisition of Sybase and its Unwired Platform in 2010, Motorola acquired RhoMobile in 2011, IBM acquired Worklight in 2012, SAP bought another mobile app platform in Syclo later in 2012, and Pivotal (a spin-off of corporate giants EMC, VMWare and General Electric) continued this trend in 2013 with the acquisition of Xtreme Labs. Not to give away all my predictions, but this trend is going to continue over time.

Multi-platform mobile device management became commoditized

Mobile device management platforms have always ultimately been acquisition targets for endpoint management and endpoint security solutions because they are a piece of the holistic enterprise endpoint puzzle. This year, the market validated that mobile device management is a niche IT management solution by steadily driving the price down.

BYOD got a lot more press from large enterprises such as Cisco, Dell and Intel, but this PR belies the fact that BYOD has actually plateaued

Regardless of whether one looks at numbers from Gartner, Aberdeen or Forrester, the adoption of BYOD has settled at around 70 percent of companies, while the other 30 percent simply are not following based on their own business logic.

With This in Mind, What Can We Expect for 2014?

From a device perspective, I have three predictions:

1. Windows Phone will come into its own as a solid third place behind Samsung and iPhone

Microsoft is not the most talented company when it comes to identifying new trends, but it tends to succeed in the areas where it invests. The Xbox, Microsoft Dynamics and Microsoft Azure are good examples of Microsoft's ability to buy its way into key markets. For Microsoft, mobility is a core market and the Windows Phone OS is both very user-friendly and very functional. In fact, one could argue that the "flat," panel-based Windows Phone front end actually pushed the mobile user experience along and inspired Apple to create its own "flat" user interface rather than the skeumorphism that Steve Jobs famously advocated for.

2. Wearable technology will be big in 2014, but not from the technology you expect

Google Glass is currently a media darling and smartwatches are not far behind. Although both of these wearable devices will continue to get significant commercial backing in 2014, companies seeking the Next Big Thing for enterprise mobility need to be more humble.

Plantronics started developing APIs for its headsets back in 2011 under the vision of its CTO, Joe Burton. After a couple of years of building a developer community and integrating headsets and other equipment with communications protocols, Plantronics is poised to transform mobility by shifting the brains of mobility from the smartphone to the headset.

Look for Plantronics to create at least one headset in 2014 that is out of the box and will provide a new level of productivity and connectedness for the enterprise.

3. Samsung will continue to maintain its market share leadership in 2014

Samsung has perfected the "me-too" development of mobile devices and Apple seems a bit short on innovation these days. Given the market momentum and the sharp execution in developing Galaxy devices, Samsung's market leadership seems certain. However, this situation is exactly when market leaders get lax.

Just as Blackberry took iPhone for granted in 2007 and iPhone took the Samsung Galaxy S for granted in 2010, a new market threat will emerge in 2014 if Samsung does not stay on top of market trends.

For mobile applications, my one prediction is very simple:

1. Mobile application development platforms are going to be devoured by larger companies in 2014

If you are using Antenna, Verivo or Kony to develop mobile apps, be prepared for a potential acquisition. The biggest problem with mobile applications is that the skill set to create a functional mobile application is different from the skill set to create a web-enabled or standalone application. To bridge this gap, developers need a separate mobile toolkit and any mega-vendor that doesn't have a mobile application development toolkit will be left behind.

 

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