Mobility Transforms IT and Business Strategies
By Samuel Greengard
BYOD and the consumerization of IT are radically changing the enterprise. Today, organizations are under intense and growing pressure from both management and employees to develop and deploy leading-edge mobile applications that match work styles and ratchet up customer engagement.
New research from consulting firm Gartner, "Predicts 2013: Mobility Becomes a Broad-Based Ingredient for Change," notes that by 2016, at least half of all mobile apps will fall into the hybrid category, combining elements of HTML5 and a native container that provides access to dedicated device features. This hybrid approach allows organizations to extend the reach of apps across multiple platforms.
"This is a significant change from what we see in the market today, where apps tend to be either Web apps or native apps," observes Van Baker, Gartner's research vice president of mobility. "At present, there aren't a lot of hybrid apps around."
The pace of this transition is remarkable, he adds, and the impact is a major source of concern. "Most IT shops are ill-prepared to address the demands that mobile applications will place on them," Baker says.
Gartner notes that mobility is now influencing mainstream IT and business strategies, and it is increasingly at the center of enterprise architectures that must support multiple mobile platforms and operating systems. Baker says that organizations cannot shy away from supporting multiple devices, and it's important to focus on building context-aware capabilities and support for location information, notification systems, mapping capabilities and on-device hardware such as the camera.
The report also noted that by 2014, Apple will be as widely accepted in the enterprise as Microsoft is today. Already, support for iOS devices is on par with Microsoft, but the use of desktop and laptop computers with Apple's Mac OS X is also growing. Meanwhile, Microsoft's mobile products— namely Windows Phone and Windows 8— will remain popular inside the enterprise, though Microsoft isn't gaining traction or market share as a result of growing IT consumerization, Gartner noted.
Another important trend is the emergence as early as this year of $50 smartphones in developing nations. A slew of new handset makers, including Chinese brands and white-box handset makers, are spurring greater competition in a market that is already witnessing downward pricing pressures. As a result, global low-end smartphone manufacturers will revamp their product lineups and features, and some will refocus on higher-end devices.
The takeaway for business and IT executives? Baker says that enterprises must seriously rethink mobile application development efforts in order to meet the needs of users. This will necessitate different approaches from what organizations have relied on in the past.
"Mobile changes everything," Baker states. "It is important to re-evaluate how you view and use applications. Mobile devices offer unique capabilities and unique challenges that must be addressed via different app development approaches, including agile development and new approaches with different sets of tools."