Four billion mobile connections and counting. The growing ubiquity of mobile phones and their increasing computational capabilities have increased their suitability for high bandwidth applications. The increasing penetration of high-speed mobile wireless networks and rising delivery bandwidth have made connectivity more reliable. Over the years, the Enterprise Mobility market has matured and enterprises are now looking beyond simple Enterprise Personal Information Management (PIM) and e-mail access on the mobile. To enterprises, the mobile phone represents an opportunity that will parallel or even exceed the transformational impact of the Internet. Mobile-enabled information access not only provides enterprises with opportunities to enhance employee productivity and streamline processes but also offers opportunities to reach out to customers and create new experiences.
THE MARKET FORCES
Evolution in technology has enabled mobile devices to grow dramatically in features and capabilities. The proliferation of device platforms such as the iPhone and Android have created a near-PC like experience on mobile phones and elevated them to a level where they can effectively replace PCs for day-to-day functions. These devices have spearheaded a growing consumer appetite for high-speed Internet connectivity and high bandwidth applications. The carriers, not to be left behind, are upgrading their networks, leading to an increased penetration of high-speed wireless networks.
The Gen Y-ers is a key demographic component driving increased usage of mobile devices to access information and services more than traditional voice communications. The growth of this segment and the devices that cater to their imagination have pushed enterprises to rethink their mobility strategy. Enterprises realize that their mobility strategy is no longer a tool to improve productivity of their employees, but a powerful and personal channel of communication with their end-consumers.
The Internet enhanced the accessibility of enterprise applications significantly. Mobility is ushering in the next wave in ubiquitous accessibility of applications. It acts as a catalyst in enabling decision makers to access information anywhere, anytime. Studies indicate that mobile access to corporate information will be on top of the agenda for enterprises and that mobility will drive an organization’s Enterprise 2.0 strategy.
The widespread usage of mobility in enterprises started with BlackBerry devices leading the way for mobile access to enterprise e-mail and PIM data. Early adopters of mobility realized the effectiveness and business benefits of mobile access to enterprise applications. An increasing number of companies are now embracing mobility to not only increase staff productivity but also to better manage inventory and improve visibility throughout their supply chains.
Proliferation of mobile devices, the App Store phenomenon and the “open ecosystem” have created a new playing field for enterprises. App Stores are here to stay and the consumers’ appetite for mobile applications will continue to grow. Consequently, enterprises are realizing that mobility cannot only help them enhance employee productivity and streamline processes but also offer game changing possibilities to reach out to customers and create new experiences.
We are witnessing a multitude of feature-rich mobile applications from enterprises making its way to Apple’s App Store. Mobile coupons, mobile marketing and advertising are seeing the light of day through market experiments. Businesses are exploring ways to enhance their brand awareness, customer relationship, stickiness and loyalty by creating touch points on the mobile phone.
MOBILE-ENABLED ENTERPRISE: THE NEXT WAVE OF GROWTH
The trends in Enterprise Mobility indicate that consumer-focused enterprises can address a large and growing opportunity. We see the following “imperatives” for a mobile-enabled enterprise:
• Launch new categories of branded digital products targeting the “emerging digital consumer”
• Create a new sales channel to market products, increase brand awareness and improve loyalty for large numbers of consumers, leveraging the operators’ reach and their knowledge of the mobile users
• Create a new service channel offering on-demand, anywhere service and support to customers
ARE ENTERPRISES READY?
The consumers are ready for mobile applications, but are enterprises ready to cater to their needs? It is time for enterprises to start thinking about their “mobile” strategy along with their “Web” strategy. Mobility combined with the power of Web 2.0 and social media will exemplify the impact that companies can create on the user experience. However, the underlying technology diversity and evolving user expectations pose some interesting challenges.
An increasing number of mobile phone users expect access to content and services in a way that is optimized for their mobile devices, without restrictions on the kind of devices they use. With the proliferation of mobile devices, the lowest common denominator experience will not suffice. Users need intelligently designed experiences with a high usability quotient.
Developing a clear device strategy to target the most appropriate target devices for enterprise mobile services will go a long way toward controlling device diversity and costs associated with it.
Understanding the user experience on a mobile is a much bigger challenge than many of us thought in the past. Solutions that have the ability to track user context and demonstrate the ability to react to the context by providing an optimized user experience will be the winners.
A strategic approach to Enterprise Mobility opens up a world of opportunities for organizations to evolve their existing processes and adopt new ones, strengthening their position in the competitive market. The growth of Enterprise Mobility will continue to be fueled by emerging technologies and openness of devices and applications. A combination of innovative strategies, smart business models and unique technology platforms will hold the key to success. Are you ready?
Latha Kalainesan is practice head for Cable and Wireless with the Communications, Media and Entertainment (CME) unit at Infosys Technologies. Sandeep Chandrasekar Seshadri is solutions lead with the CME unit at Infosys.