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A voice for the mobile enterprise

By Traver Gruen-Kennedy, Chairman, Mobile Enterprise Alliance

Traver Gruen-Kennedy is the founder and Chairman of the Mobile Enterprise Alliance. He is also Vice President and Chief Evangelist at Citrix Systems, Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, Florida USA. In his capacity at Citrix, Gruen-Kennedy is responsible for promoting promising business and technology opportunities for the company and advising the board of directors and senior executives about future strategic direction.

A global technology leader, Gruen-Kennedy is considered by many to be the "Father of the ASP industry" and is ranked by NetworkWorld magazine as one of the "25 Most Powerful People in Networking.” Industry peers nominated him for the PriceWaterhouseCoopers Outsourcing World Achievement Award and the World Economic Forum named him a Tech Pioneer for his contributions to technology and to society. Gruen-Kennedy is chairman of the South Florida Tech Alliance. He also serves on Florida's Research Consortium board of directors, an appointment by Governor Jeb Bush. Gruen-Kennedy is a graduate of Bowdoin College and has received specialized training in early-stage technology venture management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In the past year, the team at the Mobile Enterprise Alliance (MEA) has asked – and has been asked a number of challenging questions. One common question relates to the MEA’s reason for being. People are quick to point out that mobility is everywhere and that new technologies are coming to the market every day.

In fact, this is the precise reason for our existence. Wireless communications are growing at phenomenal rates, and 2003 was a banner year for cellular communications, Wi-Fi local area networks, 3G services and 802.11 HotSpots. Many mobile devices now perform a multitude of functions, including: telephony, paging, text messaging, digital photography and personal information management. As we mentioned in the previous issue of international Communications mobile devices have become consumer electronics products that many workers purchase with their own finances and bring into the office environment with hopes to use the device at work as well.

The industry at large has done a tremendous job of bringing feature-rich telephones, personal digital assistants and wireless services to the marketplace. Services for consumers are clearly articulated, well marketed and growing very rapidly.

From the enterprise perspective, however, many Information and Communications (ICT) managers are perplexed when it comes time to integrate a range of consumer-oriented technologies and services into a complex enterprise information technology environment. The wireless industry that has done so well at marketing to consumers faces an entirely different supply chain when selling to business markets.

Traditionally, enterprise markets have been quite profitable for telecommunications operators. With business customers, higher Average Revenue per User (ARPU) is complemented by higher gross margins and reduced customer churn. Enterprise customers are a desirable way for wireless operators to diversify their product portfolio.

The traditional supply chain for mobility
Unlike traditional “network-based” service models, mobile data services have developed in conjunction with telephone and device manufacturers. The wireless data model is one in which device capabilities complement features within the network and form the basis for a service offering.
Data-enabled device + data-enabled wireless network = service offering

A number of incredibly successful offerings like SMS and text messaging–services that work equally well in both consumer and business markets – follow this model. For the enterprise market specifically, the RIM Blackberry has made tremendous inroads with a simple and effective device-based e-mail service.

Several years of market evolution have driven profitability from these established services and force both enterprise management and wireless operators to ask “what next?”

Device manufacturers have weighed in with several generations of new devices with color screens, downloadable ring tones and games, digital cameras and personal organizers in increasingly smaller form factors. The rollout of 3-G and other data-rich wireless services has made these devices useful to tens of millions of wireless subscribers. But these devices and services are increasingly oriented towards consumer users.

Mobile enterprise supply chain
In the enterprise market, the device-based model has begun to show signs of weakness. Enterprise ICT managers either want ARPU to go down, or they want increased value for the same level of expenditure. They also have a vastly different perspective on the new generation of wireless devices. For them, devices like mobile phones that include digital cameras represent a breech of security and corporate privacy policies. Color screens and games consume precious battery life and have the potential to lower worker productivity levels.

Enterprises would like to use smartphones, tablet PCs and machine-to-machine communications technologies across the new data communications networks, but they also want to connect enterprise applications and business processes that involve a far more complex supply chain.

Business ROI model + enterprise software + device + network + integration + management + telco service = enterprise service offering

This supply chain is the primary difference between the market for consumer wireless services and the market for enterprise mobility.

Enterprises have invested in technologies before, and as the information and communications technology management discipline evolves, managers have the opportunity to learn from prior mistakes. The most common mistake has been investing in technologies instead of business processes. Today, enterprise ICT decision-making involves financial modeling for Return on Investment (ROI) and/or cost-benefit analyses.

In addition to a favorable ROI model, many mobile enterprise implementations involve existing enterprise software, a set of client and end-user devices, multiple wireline and wireless networks, systems integration, enterprise policies, enterprise management and often some form of telecommunications service. Investments must fit user communities and their usage patterns. Departmental billing is also becoming commonplace, so enterprise mobility is becoming a set of services that enterprise ICT departments develop and sell to internal users.

Providing a voice for the enterprise
In evaluating the marketplace for mobile enterprise solutions, the MEA saw that – left to their own natural tendencies – each participant in the supply chain would continue to focus their discussions on technologies, networks, standards and architectures. Meanwhile, enterprise ICT managers would still have to wade through volumes of technical information in an attempt to answer a set of business process questions.

The MEA concluded that a successful mobile enterprise supply chain has two priorities:

1. A need to provide an active voice for ICT management in a dynamic dialogue between organizations representing different aspects of the supply chain, and

2. The requirement to tie ICT investment to enterprise line-of-business objectives in the form of an ROI model.

With this in mind, we organized the MEA Advisory Board to begin a dialogue about enterprise mobility, the business objectives for ICT investments in mobility, and challenges within the supply chain. The MEA Advisory Board met for the first time in New York City on 22 January 2004. The discussion that ensued was very enlightening, and we found that the entire supply chain was very interested in listening to ICT management to better understand the enterprise decision process. The following findings reflect this dialogue.

Finding 1: ROI models link ICT investment to enterprise business objectives
Enterprises have been “burned” in the past by investing in best-in-breed technologies as part of a process that has put the best technologies in the best architectures, presuming an optimal business benefit. Enterprise ICT managers are aware of decreasing returns to scale for ICT investments, and enterprise mobility is no exception. Today’s enterprise decision process requires a solid ROI model that links mobile enterprise technology investment with concrete line-of-business objectives.

Finding 2: Success stories are the foundation for education and knowledge sharing
In a marketplace full of technical information, case studies are an increasingly important way for enterprise IT managers to find information, learn about successful solutions and to identify new business models for mobility architectures. The MEA Advisory Board decided that—despite a perception of “vendor bias” in collateral and case studies provided by technology companies—individual ICT managers can find valuable information in any case study. This decision has enabled the MEA to take advantage of vendor resources to grow the MEA case study knowledge base significantly.

Finding 3: Mobility is an attribute of a work environment
Over the past few years, the term “mobility” has come to mean a set of wireless technologies, devices, lightweight operating systems and applications for messaging and information management. As representatives from enterprises as well as companies across the mobile enterprise supply chain, the MEA Advisory Board came to the resounding conclusion that mobility is an attribute of many work environments.

People are very mobile and so are ideas and information. Have an idea? Take it with you. Put some information on a piece of paper and give it to a co-worker. Put a product in a box and ship it to a customer. Workers and information are inherently mobile, and they can be mobile without any device or wireless network. Once we accept this perspective, it is far easier for us to talk about the business objectives for investing in a set of technologies to improve the way in which workers and companies already operate.

Finding 4: Reliability and ubiquity are key issues
In order for the broader category of mobile enterprise technologies, applications, methodologies and architectures to be successful, ICT departments must first address the key issues of reliability and ubiquity. Mobile solutions must be reliable enough to be useful in a day-to-day work environment. This may mean an environment where a device connects when a network is available, but where work continues in the absence of a network connection.

Ubiquity is also important, because a mobile solution should be deployable across a workforce, geography or a group of users with dissimilar languages and technical backgrounds. Reliable, ubiquitous solutions will address the requirements of large communities of workers.

Finding 5: Complexity prevents users from mobilizing independent of ICT departments
There are a broad range of mobile technologies, devices and networks; the vast range of which are widely available to consumers around the world. Many workers quickly find that their ability to purchase a PDA, smartphone or tablet computer exceeds their technical knowledge about security, management and configuration – components necessary to make their device work properly in an enterprise environment.

The responsibility for “making it work” falls to ICT management, which has limited resourced and skill sets. If ICT managers had their way, they would support one device and one configuration across a broad range of users. This can be frustrating for end users anxious to use the latest technology, but these constraints bring the decision making process back to a discussion of ROI and line-of-business objectives.

After our first meeting of the MEA Advisory Board, we find that companies across the supply chain are sincerely interested in understanding how they may work together to bring mobile enterprise solutions to the market. At the forefront of that activity are the ROI tools and case studies that support an ongoing industry dialogue about line-of-business objectives, ICT investment, and an increasingly distributed and flexible model of work.

For more information:
Please contact: Daniel Taylor, daniel.taylor@mobileenterprise.org
Or visit: www.mobileenterprise.org

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