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
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
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
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
Finding 2: Success stories are the foundation for education and knowledge sharing
Finding 3: Mobility is an attribute of a work environment
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
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
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.
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