Survey: Mobile Enterprise is Stuck in Neutral

For the past few years, analysts, pundits and bloggers have shouted, “this is the year of mobile!” And as much as we’d like to believe mobile in the enterprise is taking off, a recent survey from Good Technology suggests mobile enterprise is stuck in neutral.

The Q1 2015 Good Mobility Index report seems positive at first, stating enterprise app activations (outside of email, contacts and calendar) were up 28% QoQ and a whopping 48% YoY. Great news, that is, until you dig into the details of what they consider an app. As the Inigo Montoya once said: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

The Top 5 app categories were:
1. Secure Browser
2. Secure IM
3. Custom Apps ← there is some hope at least!
4. Document Editing
5. Document Access

Now technically, a Secure Browser and Secure IM are apps. But in reality they’re not really apps per se. And Document Access and Editing are simply extending desktop functions to a smaller screen. All 4 of these “apps” are like providing email, contacts and calendar to the mobile device. There’s nothing here that really improves a business process, nothing that takes advantage of being mobile or the capabilities of the device (camera, sensors, etc.). It concerns me that this is all we have come to expect at the enterprise level.

We see this time and again in our mobile strategy engagements and discussed the situation at the recent M6 Mobility Exchange Conference.

Coming up with impactful mobile use cases is the easy part. The real challenge is prioritizing those ideas against the scarce mobile development resources that exist in most F1000 organizations. But that’s where conventional wisdom falls apart, that’s where the analyst and industry cheerleaders miss the boat.

Handed the responsibility for mobile, many IT organizations have a hard time eliciting good mobile use cases from the business side of the organization. Then they look back at all the money and effort expended to buy MDM solutions and feel they have to do something. So they say: “Hey our MDM platform supports secure browsing, IM, and document access! Let’s do that!”

And all too often, so ends the excitement around mobile.

Yet as executives responsible for mobile, if there’s one thing we know, it is this: people love apps. Consumers spend tens of billions of dollars on apps each year because they let you do cool stuff in a manner that’s faster and provides a better experience than you can get from the mobile web. In our own personal lives we use dozens of smartphone apps every day. Yet we leave our employees with little or less. The end result is they are disappointed—because of course they use dozens of apps on their phones too!

At Propelics we try to drive home the message that if there is no alignment between the business and IT, a true mobile strategy is impossible. We have a proven track record of helping companies elicit mobile use cases and create a prioritized mobile app portfolio as well as a development punch-list. Companies should make IT management and infrastructure decisions based on what supports those business cases and not simply build “capability” to address a yet unknown need. “If you build it, they will come” may have worked for Ray Kinsella, but I don’t know anyone else who magically had the 1908 Black Sox appear from their cornfields to save their farm.

And most IT and business strategies built on the same mantra also tend to fail.

Don’t let this be your enterprise mobile story.

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Phono Image610 239 8100