In 2016, many of the tools and concepts for enterprise mobility are ready to go

Mobile operating systems, EMM platforms, deployment concepts, and app creation tools are all much better than they used to be.

[Note: This article is part of a series. Click here to get to other parts.]

Is enterprise mobility is “solved”? No way. Most companies haven’t embraced it in a strategic way (even though they’re getting plenty of value from an ad-hoc approach). Besides that there are numerous issues to solve, technologies that aren’t yet mature, and emerging trends to evaluate and respond to.

We spend much of our time at BrianMadden.com talking about these issues and challenges. However, in the last few months I’ve given several presentations about the state of enterprise mobility in 2016. In these presentations I like to start off with all of the tools and concepts that we can consider to be mature or nearing maturity in 2016. When we look at things this way, we can see that enterprise mobility has actually come a long way in the last 9 years.

The devices themselves are way better

iOS devices went from being glorified MP3 players to devices that are considered some of most secure to ever exist on the mass market. They also went from having no management capabilities at all to having MDM that can work in multiple scenarios, including for schools, for locked-down kiosks, and for devices that have both work and personal content.

Android MDM was always a mess, but now Android for Work has solved that. Yes, it will take a while to roll out across all devices, but the EMM industry agrees that Android for Work was done right. We also have a range of specialized high-security Android devices like Samsung Knox, and these actually have the certifications needed to replace old BlackBerrys.

EMM platforms are maturing

For the first few years of EMM, there were complaints that EMM platforms felt like 1.0 products. Now this isn’t the case. Sure, like any any other segment there’s good software and bad software, but that’s not a reflection of EMM being immature, that’s just how the world works.

Modern EMM platforms can get a lot out of the more mature devices and MDM frameworks that I mentioned before, and many are also pursuing standalone mobile app management (without MDM). There are also a number of vendors that specialize in standalone MAM.

Enterprise file sync and share is now widely accepted and spreading rapidly. Mobile devices come with email and browsing on their own, but EFSS is a critical next step.

Federation and single sign-on with SAML has been spreading, too. According to Okta, from 2013 to 2015 the number of apps supporting SAML increased by 600%.

Many EMM platforms can now be integrated with identity and security products. For example, identity providers can make access decisions based on device status; and security products can use EMM to enforce policies or remediate threats they discover.

Concepts are widely accepted

Today, BYOD is no longer a technical issue. 5 or 6 years ago the argument about corporate versus personal phones would have been about BlackBerrys versus iPhones, but now corporate and personal phones are often the exact same model. BYOD is still a big deal—there are a lot of HR and policy issues to work out—but most of the time BYOD issues aren’t about the device itself.

And now, regardless of who owns the device, we understand that most devices (including those using the corporate-owned, personally-enabled or COPE concept) have both work and personal content on them. IT often needs to accommodate this by using certain mobile app management techniques, a significant departure from how corporate desktops are treated.

There’s also wide understanding of how mobile OSes are different than desktop OSes—they’re tightly controlled and sandboxed by their very nature. Sometimes this is challenging—for example IT often can’t do much to prevent users from upgrading, and occasionally this causes problems—but mostly this is helpful—MDM is much more lightweight than traditional client imaging and management.

There are many options for apps

When it comes to basic productivity, many different enterprise email clients are available, EFSS is spreading, and we even have real Microsoft Office for mobile devices. On top of that, workflows are easier—for example app extensions in iOS 8 and the “back-to-app” feature in iOS 9 make apps flow into each other better.

Many popular SaaS apps come with mobile clients by default (i.e. Salesforce, Box, Dropbox, Office 365, Google Apps, etc.), and other software vendors like IBM, SAP, and Oracle are also aggressively going after mobility.

For in-house apps, there are many tools like mobile app development platforms, mobile backend as a service, and app transformation, all of which make it faster and easier to build custom enterprise mobile apps.

Conclusion

Again, we’re a long way from “solving” enterprise mobility, but in the areas outlined here, we’ve come a long way. These tools and concepts are ready for the taking.

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