Enterprise Mobility – one or many device manufacturers?

We hear from device manufacturers that the enterprise should stick with one solution.  That message makes sense coming from them…  They want you to have only one provider.  However, a lot of the commentary out there (from research analysts to the end of the long tail) tell us that we should have variety; some have even suggested in the past a la carte services where you charge your internal customers accordingly (a concierge-type deal).  With so much noise and so many opinions out there what are you supposed to do?

First of all I would like to remind you to be mindful of where the noise is coming from:

  1. Commentators on the consumer side who think and behave like consumers; or from
  2. Research analysts who have never been responsible for managing large deployments and have the luxury (disadvantage?) of seeing this without the realities of your daily stress.

Their comments are still valid and we should always keep our ears open; especially since many trends begin on the consumer side and spill over the enterprise walls.

We understand that it is difficult to filter through all the noise but for the time being there are still some definite advantages to sticking with one solution.  For one it is easier and quite likely more affordable to support just one solution.  However, since our enterprise users are first consumers it will be difficult to shelter the enterprise from the many trends  and the noise (valid or not).  Keeping the iPhone out of the enterprise will be an increasingly more difficult task.  The force for more than one mobile solution in the enterprise is strong and you may not be able to hold back the tide (even if your life is easier if you manage only one solution).  You should be prepared, both for your own personal career aspirations and because you owe it to your employer to provide the best solution combo available.  So having said this, our advice to you is:

  1. Have A Testing Schedule: It is wise to regularly include testing of other mobile solutions (and or mobile applications) in your plans.  It doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming (leverage both vendors and carriers).  This way you are prepared before your users come to you.  For a variety of different reasons, most places I have seen do not have a process for reviewing what ‘out there.’
  2. Keep Open Communication: Keep the communication channels with your end users open and flowing!  By keeping the conversation moving you will also gain their trust and be seen as an IT shop that actually listens.  We have seen instances (and you probably have too) in large enterprises where a ‘shadow mobility group’ uses a completely different solution and it goes unnoticed for quite a while.
  3. Update Your Mobile Policies: There is safety and comfort in rules… :)  By thinking through scenarios before they happen and documenting policies for these scenarios the likelihood of you being surprised by rogue users or rogue devices is significantly lower.  (If you don’t have any policies around mobility … you should).
  4. Add Value: Always ask of yourself, your role and your department… are we adding value to the enterprise?  Are we helping end users to carry out their roles effectively through the use of mobile technology?  Are we providing the tools, resources and applications needed to be productive?  (NB:  If you don’t ask someone will eventually ask and the answer better be yes…)
  5. Build A Roadmap: Seeing that Mobile Strategy is one of the topics close to our heart we can’t close this post without mentioning the need for you to have one.  Coincidentally the above points all fit into a comprehensive mobile strategy.  What is your plan?  Do you have one?  Are you on top of what the carriers and device manufacturers are releasing in the next 6 months or longer?  The thought process that you need to put into the development of a mobile strategy will even help you to stay ahead of your end-user’s needs (if you collaborate with and know them).  There is nothing better than being able to anticipate their needs before they arise.

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