10 Mobility Trends CIOs Should Watch

Tablets will lose steam, BYOD will become ubiquitous and mobile rollouts will get less expensive, says Yankee Group analyst.

Mobile technology will continue to remake corporate technology use in 2013, but in some ways that may surprise and even delight CIOs.

The surprise: tablet use will flatten out, at about 30% of employees. So said Yankee Group analyst Chris Marsh, who listed his predictions for 2013 in a webinar on January 29. Marsh said his data "suggest that employees still prefer laptops or desktops, even smartphones over tablets, for a range of business tasks, like learning about or purchasing business apps, making payments and doing social messaging. The tablet comes out as third or even fourth place preferred device for a lot of these tasks."

Marsh said the main growth areas for tablets will be in niches, like remote workers, sales forces and specific industries like healthcare.

The delight will be in much cheaper strategy consulting on mobile rollouts, he said. Heretofore the province of large integrators and mobile operators, Marsh predicted the rise of the $50,000 consulting engagement. He said "boutique" integrators like Mobiquity, IT consultants such as Mutual Mobile and Cynergy, and software developers like Equal Experts will drive this trend, at the expense of companies like Accenture. (Keep in mind that research firms can have business reasons for naming specific companies.)

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More joy: CIOs will no longer have to remember the differences between MDM (mobile device management), TEM (telecom expense management), MAM (mobile application management) and similar acronyms. He expects big companies like Cisco, Oracle and HP will roll up various point providers (i.e., MobileIron, Boxtone) into mobile enterprise bundles, and mobile-savvy ISVs like SAP will fill out their products with new services.

Not that there won't be new acronyms to contend with, like MBaaS (mobile-backend-as-a-service), a consumer service Marsh predicts will move to enterprises this year as part of a shift to offering mobile services in the cloud. Some names he said to watch: FatFractal, Appcelerator, Anypresence, Feedhenry, Twilio and Urban Airship.

Marsh argued that for the mobile enterprise, 2013, like 2012, will be a year of three "Cs": consumerization, complexity and consolidation.

On the consumerization front, he predicted that by the end of 2013, 80% of companies will allow BYOD (bring your own device) for employees. That's up from 61% in December 2012. Marsh noted that 2012 marked the first time that a majority of businesses allowed some type of BYOD.

Consumerization is making mobile management more complex. A Yankee Group survey from December 2012 found that 50% of respondents found it more challenging to manage software upgrades on mobile handsets (vs. 27% in December 2011), 49% said it was harder to manage data and voice costs (30% in 2011), and 42% said distributing mobile apps to handsets was harder (26% in 2011).

Meanwhile, the vendors vying to help with managing devices are becoming fewer in number, a trend that will only continue in 2013.

In summary, here are Marsh's 10 predictions for enterprise mobility in 2013:

1. A full 80% of companies will take BYOx plunge. Consumerization will show no sign of abating.

2. Tablet penetration will flatten out.

3. Despite hype about line-of-business influence, executive management and IT will continue to drive mobile strategizing, with a focus on achieving a return on mobility. Among other things, this means death to the chief mobility officer (a job title that has yet to make InformationWeek's pages).

4. Small integrator boutiques will proliferate, offering mobile strategy consulting for $50,000.

5. As enterprise mobility management consolidates, a big IT shop will acquire somebody like MobileIron, Airwatch or Boxtone.

6. Marketing will be simplified. MDM, MAM and mobile management will die out as terms.

7. Europe's FreeMove Alliance will set a blueprint for multinational harmonization of managed mobility service procurement. This will help multinational companies procure services across borders.

8. More than 50% of companies will look to the cloud for their mobile app deployment.

9. MBaaaS vendors (mobile-backend-as-a-service) will shift from consumer to enterprise.

10. Design thinking will be hailed as the new product management methodology. Companies report spending as much as 50% of a project's time on design. They increasingly gather input from across departments and job titles to help create a better overall customer experience.

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