We just concluded our last plenary session at Mobile Business Expo, "Mobile Business 2.0: The True Promise Of Wireless." It looks like Web 2.0 consumer trends are shaping business mobility more than I thought.The panel included Sanjay Shirole, President and CEO of Xora; David Heit Director of Product Management, Enterprise Software, Research In Motion; Joshua Holbrook Program Manager, Enterprise Research, Yankee Group Research, Inc.; Timothy D. Jasionowski, Senior Technologist, Voice and Rich Media Technologies, Nokia Enterprise Solutions; and yours truly as the moderator.
The aim of the discussion was to tie Web 2.0 and emerging Enterprise 2.0 trends to the mobile business market to see if there was any connection between the three.
We opened the plenary by asking David Heit about RIM's new partnership with Facebook. Heit said that social networking sites are increasingly becoming business tools as well as consumer applications. The recent flood of business users to Facebook is, in my opinion proof of this.
I pressed Heit on the Facebook deal, insisting that RIM's decision to offer a Facebook application that runs on the BlackBerry platform is the equivalent of an imprimatur for the business market, especially given just how pervasive BlackBerry is among executive-class users. Several years ago, RIM said it would never release a BlackBerry with a camera. Once RIM decided to launch smartphones with cameras, almost all business-class smartphones started carrying them. RIM's partnership with Facebook could have a similar impact for mobile social networking in the business market.
After we covered Facebook, we turned our attention to another top Web 2.0 and Mobile 2.0 trend, location-based services.
Xora's Sanjay Shirole said that location-based apps are ready for the business market and that IT managers can use them today. Shirole used a recent deployment in the city of Chicago to demonstrate that location can add value for both businesses and their workers.
After location, the panel shifted its focus to mobile VoIP and unified communications. Nokia's Timothy Jasionowski pointed out that many businesses cling to desktop phones when they could, in reality, get rid of these devices and replace them with just smartphones. He also pointed out the advantages of new technologies, like dual-mode access, that allow companies to have even more flexibility.
RIM's Heit, however, challenged the idea that wireless VoIP is currently ready for business use. He also questioned if smartphones could totally replace desktop phones, especially for certain segments.
Yankee's Holbrook also questioned the short-term viability of mobile VoIP, "Mobile VoIP does not appear to have a bright short-term future."