Enterprise Mobility & Connected Devices Blog

Top Seven for Eleven: VDC's 2011 Mobile & Wireless Predictions...Part 1

It is the end of the year so that must mean prediction time for analyst firms...how predictable! VDC's Mobile & Wireless Practice has put together its own set of expectations for trends and expectations we will be tracking in 2011. This post is the first in that series. Enjoy, and, as always, your thoughts and feedback are always welcome. 

2011 is certain to be another exciting year for all things mobile, with continued innovation and new capabilities occurring throughout the mobile ecosystem. The upcoming year will feature new upstarts fueled by venture capital investments, continued advancements on both the hardware and software front and new opportunities for businesses to empower their workforces.

While 2011 promises much excitement, VDC Research has identified seven key initiatives that will shape and drive the enterprise mobility market in the coming year.

1. Mobile is the enterprise…the enterprise is mobile

Enterprise mobility impacts virtually every industry across the globe. With the global mobile workforce estimated at almost 1 billion – and growing – enterprise mobility is officially engrained in the fabric of the enterprise, and we expect the mobile worker will become "just another node on the network" in the not too distant future. Enterprise mobility is not just about empowering your own workforce, but also about the very nature of how organizations communicate – internally and with their customers.

Key 2011 enterprise mobility initiatives are too numerous to list. Some of the more unique trends that VDC will be tracking include:

  • The Empowered Customer.  Never before has the customer been as empowered and informed as today’s consumer. And never before has the customer engagement lifecycle – from the point of evaluation, selection and purchase decision – been as distributed as it is today. The mobile device has been the key enabling technology behind this shift. Subsequently, the mobile B2C strategies employed by organizations will be as critical as any at capturing mind share.
  • Mobilizing Health Records: This made the list primarily because much of the ARRA funds will begin to make their way to hospitals and physicians in 2011. The digitization of health records is clearly a precursor for more consistent deployment of mobile patient care solutions. Tablets will play a critical role here although healthcare organizations will not give up their COWs (Computers on Wheels) without a fight.
  • Digital Video Enabled Evidence Management Solutions. Evidence management will be a key initiative for public safety organizations in 2011, and digital video will represent a critical enabling technology. Digital video – as an application – is perhaps as representative as any of the factors potentially accelerating migration to next generation 4G networks (such as LTE).  In this case, with the opportunity for broadband spectrum at 700 MHz for public safety, government organizations in the US are keenly evaluating LTE as the air interface solution for next generation mission critical networks. LTE’s high capacity and ability to delivery true broadband is ideally suited for next generation digital video applications. Moreover, LTE is designed to support multiple simultaneous video streams at a higher resolution and with better encoding.

2. Emergence of cloud-optimized mobile solutions

Cloud-based mobile “app-stores” have been a boon for several organizations. However, these services have been optimized for consumers and consumer-like applications. In 2011 we expect to see the emergence of enterprise application stores offered as a managed service. The distribution of applications to more management oriented services, including application management, configuration and provisioning, will be key features. A couple of factors that are lacking from today’s consumer-centric models, but will be critical for the enterprise will be:

  • The ability to enforce/guarantee employees install the application (push-based distribution of the application).
  • The ability to control where the application goes (make the application and provisioning profile user/group- or device-centric.

Beyond cloud-based mobile application distribution and management services, we also are tracking a growing opportunity for cloud-optimized mobile devices supporting enterprise applications. While not the stripped down thin clients in the traditional sense, these will likely be devices than can support both connected and disconnected operation. The emerging class of tablets/media-pads – with their more smartphone-like OS profiles, processing capabilities and interface options – are likely to be deployed in this fashion.

3. Enterprises embrace application development liberties of next generation mobile platforms

The democratization of mobile application development – enabled by emerging mobile platforms, such as Android, and today’s micro-app mentality – is taking the enterprise by storm. Organizations have become enamored by the low-cost/low-risk approach of internally developing mobile applications to support specific workflows or use cases. This has been especially apparent in the military where Android and iOS development is actively encouraged and invested in. Dozens of vendors focused on mobility have emerged with robust tools and platforms that enable “click and build” capability for creating mobile applications. Considering the level of customization required for currently deployed “traditional” enterprise applications (i.e. desktop applications), we see a significant opportunity for businesses to take advantage of these tools and build their own customized applications that will extend their often significant enterprise application investments.

While this trend is unlikely to significantly impact development of more mission critical applications – and nor are we suggesting that enterprises are taking control of all mobile development – the expectation is these developments will result in the enablement of entirely new mobile workflows and evolve into incremental opportunities for mobile solution providers.

 Stay tuned for the next post...

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