Every year companies and research agencies conduct surveys to establish the current state of enterprise mobility within the business market. If you are one of those people who keep an eye on such reports you've probably noticed that the numbers haven't really changed much in the past couple of years.

So my question is, why?

Let's go back to 2013 with the Mobility in Business Report conducted by Citrix. One of its key findings was that mobility was the "top business or IT priority for nearly two-thirds of companies." Even those with higher priorities recognized mobility as a key objective to drive business transformation, competitive differentiation and IT value.

A year later, Dimension Data released its, Secure Mobility Survey with responses from over 1,600 professionals. According to the report’s findings, mobility was a top priority for most IT departments.

According to Ovum’s most recent 2015 report, "enterprise mobility will continue to be one of the hottest topics in IT, and high on the list of priorities for all CIOs."

With such a high priority placed on mobility for the last few years surely we'd expect to be seeing some real progression in the industry by now, but is that really the case?

One of the main issues identified by the reports is the gap between vision and real-world implementations. According to Citrix, 47 percent of the companies surveyed have a mobility strategy in place. However, the Dimension Data report suggests that as few as 29 percent of respondents are implementing a mobility roadmap and have tested how well their core applications work on mobile devices.

While surveys show that data security is the major mobility-related concern, only 32 percent of respondents say that they have conducted a security audit of applications touched by mobile devices.

It doesn't really seem to me like these numbers reflect the prioritization of enterprise mobility. So, what are the major obstacles holding back the move towards true enterprise mobility?

Mismatch In Adoption Ratio

According to the surveys above, over 90 percent of respondents reported personal devices being used for work purposes in their organizations. That said, only 27 percent indicated they have well-defined network policies for mobility. This continued lack of structured IT policy has to be one of the major reasons why the mobility industry appears to be stalled.

We could also attribute this mismatch to the complexity of implementing an effective mobile solution. According to the 2014 State of Enterprise Mobility Survey by Kinvey, 56 percent of mobile leaders surveyed said it took between 7 months and 1 year to build one app, and 18 percent said they spent from $500,000 to over $1,000,000 per app. Fifty percent of CIOs think the process takes too long; 24 percent cite it as a source of frustration.

Too Much Focus on Devices, Not Enough Focus on Data

Not to get too philosophical, but which came first -- the data or device?

Another major reason for the delay in mobility adoption across businesses is yet another mismatch -- too much focus on devices and not enough focus on the data and content being transmitted. Another Citrix survey from 2014, indicates that Windows-based business apps still dominate the market, as opposed to native mobile apps for Android, iOS or BlackBerry.

Enterprises need to look beyond the battle of BYOD user-owned vs. company-owned devices. The lack of focus on content and delivering business value to end-users delays the process of full-scale mobility adoption, causing headaches for IT departments and barring employees from the productivity perks of being able to access corporate data from anywhere.

Learning Opportunities

App-oclypse Now! Too Many Apps, Too Little Mobile Access

Mobile access to data is tied to the amount (and the type) of applications deployed within an organization.

Source: Citrix Mobility Report: A Look Ahead (December 2013)

Email, calendar and contacts dominate the list of important mobile apps, alongside enterprise line-of-business apps, enterprise file sync and share, and collaboration tools.


Source: Citrix Mobility Report: A Look Ahead (December 2013) *

According to a 2013 survey conducted by Vanson Bourne, the average number of applications deployed per organization was 424, of which 53 percent were browser-accessible. However, on average only 22 percent of enterprise applications (including ERP, CRM, SharePoint and custom apps) could be accessed easily from mobile devices.

The complexity of implementing a sustainable and agile mobility solution slows down the overall adoption process, but that hasn't stopped business leaders from researching the latest innovations in field. Those who've already began drawing their mobility roadmaps are most likely to adopt enterprise mobility in the next 12 months.

According to some recent projections 2015 will be the year for enterprise mobility to finally flourish, with enterprise applications from startups leading the charge. Let's see what I have to report back next year.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by  claumoho