What’s in store for enterprise mobility in 2016

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It’s no secret that, while the appetite for mobile apps is big and growing, mobile in many organizations is not as advanced as one may think. Reaching mobile enterprise maturity means overcoming the complexity of integration, deployment, security, and management of mobile apps, adopting new architectures, technologies, methodologies and, most significantly, new mindsets.

The good news is that organizations are making good progress on the mobile maturity curve with many well-poised to bring an increasing portfolio of apps to market in 2016. This is evidenced in the recent Red Hat Mobile Maturity Survey conducted in October last year. As with any maturing market, the landscape is in continuous flux and 2016 will see some further developments as mobile pushes companies closer to the brink of digital transformation. Looking ahead, here’s how I see mobile evolving and shifting in 2016:

1. Large enterprise technology vendors will muscle in at the expense of the smaller standalone mobile solution providers

With mobile at the center of digital business, interoperability with other key technologies (network, middleware, IoT, cloud, storage, big data etc.) will come into sharper focus. Mobile will not be seen merely as app projects but will become part of the broader business and IT strategy, similar to the way the web evolved from “having a web site” to having an integrated online strategy. The impact of mobile goes far beyond the device and user interface to encompass integration with heterogenous systems, the IoT, cloud services, Platform-as-a-Service, and other existing and emerging enterprise technologies. Standalone mobile solutions will fight to compete against larger enterprise technology vendors that can offer a broad portfolio of enterprise-grade capabilities and technology stacks to amplify the value of mobile.

2. Cloud vendors come out in force

The cloud has been an important enabler of mobile, facilitating greater developer efficiency, scalability, and flexibility, and acting as a hub between existing IT systems and mobile devices. Cloud vendors (Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud) have extended their offerings to include mobile cloud solutions and services. We predict these large cloud vendors and even smaller cloud vendors will play an increasing role in the market, broadening their mobile offerings to developers, IT, and the business to compete with enterprise IT providers who have traditionally dominated the enterprise software market.

3. The year of the Internet of Things (IoT), or not

In introducing these predictions I drew attention to the fact that mobile has yet to really take off at scale in the majority of organizations. Despite the analyst and media buzz, I believe that IoT may have many similarities to mobile in terms of market dynamics. Sure, IoT is exciting and will set the stage for further digital transformation, but 2016 may be a time for companies to determine how IoT will work for them and how they can integrate it into their digital business strategy. An IoT survey conducted by TechValidate on behalf of Red Hat in June 2015 shows that respondents are approaching IoT slowly and deliberately, with only 12 percent indicating that they are currently rolling out an IoT solution.

Organizations that have successfully implemented mobile strategy and are now pushing into the implementation of IoT projects will be well placed to tackle the complexity of back-end application integration, more flexible IT architecture, cloud and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) deployments, and agile development methods. And those that craft a company-wide digital strategy spanning mobile and IoT are likely to be better placed for digital competitiveness.

4. The voice of lines of business in mobile decision-making gets louder

Although it’s accepted that mobile is not an IT-only initiative, the power will continue to shift toward line of business in deciding how mobile can be applied to business problems and how the business can use it to drive innovation. This shift will represent more of a business-led/IT-enabled model that hinges on collaboration, communication, and respect.

The concept of a Mobile Center of Excellence (MCoE) supports more company-wide collaboration, bringing stakeholders from the business and IT together to centralize and share best practices, use cases, reusable concepts and resources, and security management. Centralizing mobile practices in this fashion offers organizations the opportunity to speed their mobile app development while generating greater efficiencies and keeping better control over core IT practices around security, integration, management and deployment. Our recent survey of organizations in the United States and Europe revealed the link between the establishment of a MCoE amongst companies that have a fully implemented mobile app strategy. It would be surprising not to see more companies adopt such a model in one form or another, especially as they advance their mobile maturity and increase their mobile investments.

Cathal is Vice President of Mobile Platforms for FeedHenry by Red Hat, the mobile application platform provider that enables the development deployment, integration and management of mobile apps for enterprise. Cathal held the position of CEO of FeedHenry, when the company was acquired by Red Hat the leading open source solutions company in October 2014.

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