Hello, I'm From The Future
By Susan Nunziata, Editor In Chief, CIO Insight
This is the phrase an IT executive from Johnson & Johnson once shared with me. He longed to say "Hello, I'm from the future," as he traveled around the country prepping his division's satellite offices for a new field mobility deployment.
As I settle into my first full month as Editor In Chief of CIO Insight, I understand how that IT executive felt. I'm joining this great publication from my previous role as Editor In Chief of Mobile Enterprise. And, I must confess, I'm guilty of "drinking the enterprise mobility Kool-Aid."
What do I mean by that? I firmly believe that mobility is the future of enterprise computing.
OK, hold on, before you all start howling at me, hear me out. First of all, I realize that the phrase "enterprise mobility" immediately makes IT teams envision an invasion of smartphone platforms and the accompanying management and security nightmares.
While this is certainly an enormous part of the equation, enterprise mobility is so much more than smartphones.
Enterprise mobility is about empowering people to do what they need to get their jobs done from anywhere in real time in the most efficient way possible.
It's a move away from desktop computing to mobile computing form factors (notebooks, laptops, tablets) as the preferred device for most employees (tell me, how many of your technology refresh cycles include purchasing new desktop computers?).
It's a move away from wired networking toward ubiquitous WiFi networks that enable your workers to roam efficiently across a corporate, healthcare or educational campuses, or on the manufacturing or warehouse floors.
It's a move toward machine-to-machine (m2m) technologies that enable remote monitoring and control of farflung enterprise equipment.
The bottom line is that enterprise mobility is about change management. It's about rethinking business processes and practices, and anticipating the expectations and entrenched behaviors of your next-generation workforce, (and your customers!).
Gartner research VP Monica Basso says in a June 2010 report that wireless email users will reach 1 billion by year-end 2014. Worldwide business wireless e-mail accounts were estimated at more than 80 million in early 2010, including large, midsize and small organizations, as well as individual professionals, corresponding to about 60 million active users, according to Gartner.
"In 2010, enterprise wireless e-mail is still a priority for organizations, whose mobile workforces are up to 40 percent of the total employee base," says Basso in a prepared statement. "Most midsize and large organizations in North America and Europe have deployed enterprise wireless e-mail already, but on average, for less than 5 percent of the workforce."
Basso goes on to predict that as wireless e-mail begins to integrate with social networking and collaboration, social networking is increasingly complementing email for interpersonal business communications. Gartner predicts that by 2014, social networking services will replace email as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications for 20 percent of business users.
"People increasingly want to use mobile devices for collaboration to share content, information, and experiences with their communities," Basso says. "Social paradigms are converging with e-mail, instant messaging, voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and presence, creating new collaboration styles."
What does this mean for your organization? For one, you'll want to make sure that any new business application you implement allows seamless mobile connectivity, in as close to real time as possible, to your core business applications (this is a matter of device choice, software and user interface design, and wireless carrier agreement, among other factors).
Ultimately, enterprise mobility can facilitate improvements in employee collaboration, data collection and analytics that speak directly to the bottom line.
That's not to say it's going to be easy. As the well-publicized iPhone 4 connectivity issues attest, we're not quite there yet when it comes to achieving fully productive enterprise mobility.
And many organizations right now are grappling with growing worker demand to connect their personal mobile devices to corporate email and business applications, causing a range of issues for corporate policy, IT management and support.
I'm sure you've got your own pain points around enterprise mobility, and I'd love to hear about them, so please provide your feedback here.
I also look forward to discussing with you the myriad other issues facing today's CIO. I encourage you to use this forum to share the top challenges you're facing this year. If you'd prefer to contact me directly, please email firstname.lastname@example.org