2013 Predictions: The challenges for enterprise mobility

So, after following technology trends for 18 years and 15 years of mobile addiction, (I got my first mobile when it was too big to carry and my first BlackBerry in 2002), and more than five years as president and CEO of the U.S. branch of a NASDAQ company specializing in enterprise application and integration platforms, I decided to give you my view of what 2013 will bring for enterprise mobility. I call it the rise of the “new-age enterprise.” “Mobile osmosis,” a gradual, unconscious absorption of knowledge and ideas around mobility from the consumer (personal world) over the last 10 years through continual exposure (rather than deliberate learning) is penetrating into the enterprise world and giving birth to the NAE. All we know from our personal world of using mobile phones, all the habits, routines and expectations is being funneled into enterprise software practice.

1. Companies will be going mobile whether they plan for it or not: Employees will force it and IT departments will be required to keep up. (Of course, it would have been better if they had gotten ahead of the curve and harnessed the trend to the benefit of the business instead of waiting for osmosis to take its course.)

2. Mobile adoption will become more strategic rather than purely tactical, with more companies looking at the big picture and developing company-wide mobile strategies and solutions to deliver the business value expected from new-age enterprises.

3. IT leaders will increase their value within the organization as they take more responsibility for enhancing business processes via mobile versus simply trying to mobilize existing apps.

4. Municipalities and all types of government agencies, including the military, will join in the app economy, creating dedicated mobile apps to improve customer service and increase efficiency. Whereas 10 years ago the use of mobile phones in the military was considered unsafe and restricted to satellite only, they now talk about better field control through the use of mobile phones on an individual soldier level.

5. More and more consumer and enterprise mobile apps will require connection to back-end systems to provide useful data and enable complete transactions. Integration will become an IT priority for effective mobile apps.

6. Companies initially adopted a “buy” attitude toward mobile apps, but will gradually discover they are unable to customize and integrate the apps enough to make the “buy” worthwhile. They will begin to develop or outsource custom mobile apps and will place heavy emphasis on back-end integration to their CRM or systems of record.

7. Companies will see that it isn’t realistic to develop apps for only one operating system and that it isn’t time or cost-effective to develop separate native apps for each operating system and/or device. They will begin to seek mobile development platforms that let them develop once and deploy for multiple operating systems. The debate between HTML5, native MEAP containers and hybrid approaches will continue throughout 2013 and will not be resolved.

8. The growth of mobile app development will increase employment opportunities for UX and mobile app-focused graphic designers, as employees will demand “consumerized” enterprise applications with a sexier look and feel and expect all the features they value from their favorite consumer apps from the enterprise app world.

9. Organizations will demand more of their mobile service providers, requiring new billing plans, faster speeds and higher bandwidth.

10. “Gamification” of mobile apps for employees will meet significant resistance throughout 2013 from both IT and business users despite the hype from analysts and vendors.

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