[Note: This article is part of a series. Click here to get to other parts.]
When I talk about the state of enterprise mobility and what types of companies are adopting it, I like to think of it in three groups:
- Ad hoc mobility
- Compulsory mobility
- Strategic mobility
Let’s take a look at each one of these.
Ad hoc mobility
Many companies might have been worried about BYOD in the first few years after the iPhone came out, but soon enough it became clear that the sky wasn’t falling. They opened up Exchange ActiveSync so that any device could get corporate email, and let pretty much anything onto the office WiFi. Soon enough there were no more BlackBerrys and even phones paid for by the company were iPhones or Android.
Over the years they probably started using a few apps that come with mobile clients, like Salesforce, Concur, or enterprise file sync and share. Some employees find their own apps for work, like Evernote, or maybe some departments have their own apps, like Slack.
These companies are doing mobility on an ad hoc basis. There’s no formal strategy, and there are likely no enterprise mobility management tools in place, either.
This doesn’t mean that mobility isn’t important—in fact, mobility is probably extremely valuable for these companies. It’s just that it all happened on its own, bit by bit.
Large enterprises and companies in regulated industries can’t have such a relaxed attitude towards mobility. They responded to iPhones and Android by trying to hold them off (some were successful and some weren’t) and then by using various forms of EMM as they became available.
They either had to use EMM to remain compliant, or they chose to use EMM because their sheer size meant that dealing with thousands of iOS and Android devices manually would be a huge pain. BlackBerrys stuck around for quite a while as corporate-issued phone at some of these companies, while others standardized on iPhones, Samsung, or Windows Phone. Sometimes BYOD could be a major issue.
These companies have been using EMM for a while now (again, because they had to) and they’ve learned a lot of important lessons from it. They deserve a lot of credit for spurring device makers to add good management APIs and spurring EMM vendors to make good software to manage them.
Just because companies are using EMM and paying attention to mobility doesn’t necessarily mean that they have advanced strategies, though—they might still be thinking just in terms of email and maybe a few other basic apps.
Some companies saw important business opportunities in mobility—beyond just email, messaging, and calling. They developed or sourced apps to make business tasks more efficient or do them in entirely new ways. Or they did mass deployments of phones or tablets for specific use cases.
For many of these companies that are using mobility in a strategic way, the goal (and hopefully result) is a competitive business advantage that can improve their bottom line.
These companies have likely been using various EMM technologies over the years, and they also deserve a lot of credit for figuring out how to make mobility work.
Which group is your company in? (The groups can certainly overlap.) Today, most of us are in the ad hoc or compulsory mobility group, but of course our future goals and plans will put us in the strategic group.