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After 20 years in tech, much of it in mission critical mobile solutions, I have arrived at the conclusion that the enterprise mobility market is about margin. Nothing less. Nothing more.
Sure, deployers cite a number of key strategic drivers for their enterprise mobility investments, but, they all fall into one of two buckets:
1. They are about margin, or
2. They are ephemeral
VDC Research recently completed a survey of a little over 900 enterprises deploying mobility solutions. The sample represented all vertical segments, account tiers and regional markets. The survey covered a number of technical and commercial issues and opportunities as they related to enterprise mobility deployment experiences and investment plans. They survey was part of the 2011 Enterprise Mobility Market Intelligence Service.
What did the survey yield?
1. 50% of respondents cited 'Improving Process Efficiencies/ Productivity' as the key driver. Only the least lucky or most poorly managed companies in the world are productivity leaders and consistently operating margin laggards.
2. 49.6% cited "Improved Customer Service and Satisfaction". Ephemeral. I will explain later.
3. 41.2% cited "Increase in Sales/ Revenue". Margin. Same resources drive more revenue. That is the path to margin, no?
Other top responses included:
1. Improved Schedule Performance. Typically a lead indicator for margin performance.
2. Reduced Resource Consumption. Margin.
3. Better Insight Into Operational Performance. A view into how current operations are enhancing or inhibiting margin, and how it margins might be improved.
4. Improved Communication With Suppliers. Ephemeral.
That word again. Ephemeral.
Citing improvements in customer sat or supplier relations as key drivers of investment in mobility is not really what is happening. It only looks real. It is ephemeral. Really, it is about survival. If you do not have the right mobility solutions available to your teams -- inside or outside the four walls, or in between the walls and the fence -- then, well I think you are going to be out of business soon. For in order to meet the MINIMUM expectations of most customers, and many trading partners, the successful enterprise is required to have a mobility capability.
Why? Silicon-carbon integration. That meta-trend that forms the foundation for the persistent growth in mobile device penetration across the planet. Growth in net traffic -- wireline and wireless. That meta-trend that accounts for so much creative destruction of the paper and ink world. That trend that has arrived many of us at a place in time when we cannot even recite the telephone numbers of some of the people that we call hundreds of time a month. For we are not pushing numeric key pads, we are tapping their picture on our touchscreen.
Silicon-carbon integration is shaping telemedicine, wireless calibration in process control engineering, and real-time total asset visibility solutions -- including remote --- in so many mission critical supply chains.
Silicon-carbon integration is creating a set of expectations where consumers care not to be limited to interacting only with the events, the people and the brands in the room. And if that is where people are taking b-to-c operators, that is where b-to-c operators are taking b-to-b operators.
Mobility is not optional. In its most basic form, it is not a strategic advantage. It is not a differentiator. It is entrance fee to the game. It is a basic requirement. You are mobile, or, you are dead.
And for those that are alive, and mobile, the more interesting potential of mobility beyond meeting the fundamental requirements of the new consumer and the new trading partner, is its ability to drive margin.