"The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost describes the conundrum of choosing between two paths. And while literary experts argue that it wasn't Frost's point at all, the poem is commonly used to reinforce the idea that there is merit in taking the harder, less-traveled option. 

It’s worth a read whenever you’re struggling with a tough project. Many companies would consider enterprise mobility one of those tough projects.

But looking at a lot of enterprises today, they seem to be declaring mobile success when they're only halfway down the road. They haven’t chosen one path or another — they’ve simply reached the fork in the road and said, “That’s far enough.”

Understanding Leads the Way

To understand how this can happen, let’s take a couple of steps down memory lane. 

Before the era of the iPhone, BlackBerry was the dominant enterprise mobile solution. Executives and sales people got used to the idea of having email and calendar available on a mobile device. 

In many organizations, these same two groups were the first users of iPhones and iPads. Suddenly, IT departments faced the challenge of providing secure access to email and calendars on consumer devices.

This, in turn, created an entire market for Mobile Device Management (MDM) and the follow-on technologies. For many companies, implementing MDM required significant effort. Correspondingly, a fairly significant number of enterprises seem to have reached this point along the mobility road and stopped to catch their breath.

Based on many conversations with prospects, customers and analysts, the image below gives a graphical view of this half-traveled road.

2015-04-August-Kellner-Image2

Some companies really haven’t even started the journey. 

They forbid mobile device use for business, typically because of security concerns. It’s quite rare to encounter such companies, but some still exist. 

By far, the biggest portion of the market is at the stage where email and calendar have been enabled but nothing beyond this is supported. This includes both companies that have stayed with BlackBerry devices and those companies that have made some kind of MDM investment to allow email and calendar on Android, iOS and Microsoft mobile devices.

A growing percentage of companies have moved beyond the email and calendar stage to allow employees to install the standard vendor-built apps for the enterprise software used in those companies, including clients for things like file sharing, social, CRM and HR platforms. 

In many of these cases, businesses have implemented MAM (Mobile Application Management) platforms to provide a certain amount of control and security around these apps. This, in turn, takes an investment of effort and explains why the graph drops even further at the next stage.

And That Has Made All the Difference

The custom app development stage is really where the fork in the road occurs. It’s at this point that companies must decide what technologies to use, what skills to develop, and what problems to solve. Some paths are easier than others. 

In many cases, taking the harder path results in valuable lessons being learned, but also large amounts of time and money being expended. This explains the continued reduction in the number of companies that pursue the journey to the point where they need many custom apps to solve problems for their users — and don’t know where to turn for help.

The specific percentages may vary by industry and geography, but the journey has been very similar for most enterprises. 

Today, however, many are looking for ways to get down the road faster. In some cases, the move to custom apps happens in parallel with or even ahead of the other steps.

But no matter which path is taken, one thing is clear: Email and calendars do not define the successful end of an enterprise mobility journey. To achieve real success, enterprises cannot stop at the fork in the road.