When adopting technology most enterprises have chosen to adopt a single platform for all uses. This makes it easier for IT to support the end users and keep policies and procedures consistent. Over time the enterprise mobility environment has seen evolutionary shifts that make a single platform selection nearly impossible. Areas such as user experience, security, scalability, mobile ecosystem support, application development and financial incentive have changed over time as platforms compete for a leadership position in the enterprise.
In enterprise mobility, constant innovation and disruption reshapes the landscape on an accelerated cycle, which challenges businesses to stay ahead of the curve. Mobile platform developers are keen to make the user experience friendly, smooth and robust. From the enterprise perspective, the following also need to be top of mind:
Security is of the utmost importance and must be accountable on many levels.
Scalability is also big, as some devices do not work on the same networks or infrastructure, meaning it’s important to work with a product line that is scalable. Does this scale with the existing mobile ecosystem of the business?
Bundling and built-in features give businesses more financial incentive.
Blackberry was king of enterprise because it quickly established credibility with IT departments and its inherent security. Blackberry’s devices revolutionized employees’ relationship with email as a preferred method of communication while winning the hearts and minds of enterprise IT because corporate data was kept secure.
However, as competitors innovated a different user experience that expanded the devices capabilities beyond email (when apps came into play), Blackberry started to fall short. Its small keyboards were no longer a fan favorite and when they switched to touch screen it was too late as Apple and Google had already won the segment. Blackberry didn’t listen to what their users wanted and didn’t adjust as the shift in preferences began to change.
Blackberry was impossible to breach and always maintained that impression until user experience brought them down. The growth of the keyboard-less form factor took off and device users quickly adapted away from the feature synonymous with Blackberry. When Facebook’s WhatsApp decided to end all support for Blackberry operating systems, the shift in preferences was more than clear.
Apple and Android-based devices evolved the user experience by creating a platform that took mobile computing beyond email. Soon, the mobile application boon saw massive investment in development, which only fueled further the acceptance of the form factors and device platforms positioning them in good standing with users.
Today, both Apple and Android are on par when it comes to credibility, user experience, and app development. However, the competition is heating up when it comes to innovation and price. Price will become more important for two reasons. As carriers stop subsidizing devices the costs become obvious where they were previously hidden. Second, as mobile use cases expand internationally and to lower levels of the organization, a lower cost device is necessary to serve those cases.
Android for the enterprise has been gaining momentum as it continues to challenge iOS which is the clear leader in likeability. The Android for Work solution created by Google has the security features that IT departments are most drawn to. Another positive asset is the price point offered by manufacturers making it a real competitor financially. Android for Work has been aggressively going after the enterprise in an effort to monopolize as Blackberry once did.
Before Android can take the lead in the enterprise market there are still many things that need to be considered. They need to establish themselves as leaders in enterprise security due to the fact that they are an open source platform. The Android user experience also needs to be more consistent when it comes to any software updates as this affects both user and IT department’s ability to deliver support.
Android will also need a captivating new phone on the market to attract users. Where Android can have the biggest impact is with price especially when it comes to larger companies with more employees in need of devices. The lower price point could be the differentiator that pushes them ahead of iOS.
Major brands have dominated through concise and targeted product lines and companies will continue to see this approach. Features are and will continue to be the biggest drivers, but also critical in terms of advancements in innovation and business models. Either way, competition is good for the enterprise and end users. The rate of investment in mobile innovation will only grow and the competitive landscape will further push the industry forward.
Garrett Long is senior vice president of Strategic Consulting for Mobile at Enterprise IT consulting company Tangoe.