IDC: Enterprise Mobile Adoption Being Driven by Millennials; Future Depends on Culture Shift

Esther Shein

There’s no mistaking the fact that mobility is here to stay and enterprise adoption will only continue to grow, as more and more companies recognize the need to develop mobile apps for their workers and customers in order to derive real business value.

Innovative business leaders and IT decision makers are thinking mobile first. Key drivers include increasing interest in the use of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the organization and growing acceptance of mobile payments. Enterprise Mobility Exchange spoke with Mike Jennett, Vice President of Mobility Strategies for IDC’s IT Executive Programs, to find out what some of the challenges are related to mobile deployments, as well as some of the benefits mobile brings to the table.

EME: A lot has been written about the challenges related to mobile adoption in the past few years. What continues to be the main barriers to mobile adoption in the enterprise right now and what issues (if any) have been resolved?

MJ: Interestingly enough, one of the main barriers is IT’s ability to accept that mobile is here to stay and must be integrated into their existing infrastructure. There are still many IT organizations that are trying to fight off mobile in their enterprise. As for those who have moved to acceptance, security and integration show as the two most concerning aspects of mobile in our research. From a security perspective, IT organizations are looking at to how best allow employees access to data, while simultaneously securing that data, from outside intrusion, but also from employees who may leave the company.

Secondarily, integration into legacy systems is becoming a large issue for many organizations as they look to take their legacy data, which often is not geared towards mobile, and provide it to mobile based applications.

EME: Do you have any data on how prevalent mobile systems/apps are today and projections for growth in the next few years?

MJ: Our research shows that ~80% of organizations are actively working on implementing some sort of mobile initiative, either internally, or with third parties. Further, we put the overall enterprise mobility management software market (the software that integrates mobility into the enterprise) at $1.8B and the market on a whole for worldwide spending on mobility to reach $1.89 trillion by 2020.

EME: How difficult is it to find mobile developers, and would you say that’s a key factor in an organization’s ability to deploy mobile systems?

The ability to find mobile developers really depends on the type of company. Companies with an initial web-based focus that have moved into mobility have a much easier time as they are able to take their web-based developers and gear them toward mobile. Where we have seen issues is with companies that are legacy enterprise based with older applications geared toward the desktop. These organizations are having to either train, hire or outsource their mobile application development, which can lead to issues with integration with the existing legacy systems.

EME: Do you find that many organizations are not taking a mobile-first/mobile-centric approach when deploying an app?

MJ: We are seeing less of this as mobile becomes more pervasive. Organizations that are not taking a mobile first/mobile-centric approach are finding that their business organizations are looking outside of IT to third parties for solutions. These organizations are finding themselves left out of more decisions as technology moves forward and will find themselves marginalized if they continue on that path.

EME: Are some industries ahead of others when it comes to mobile innovation?

MJ: Yes, there are many industries that are ahead of others. Two that come to mind are retail and healthcare. In the retail market we are seeing companies take advantage of mobile to target customers in store and out. A great example of this is what Macy’s has just done with their mobile application, which includes beacon technology, allowing them to connect with a customer in store and offer them discounts and advice based on the department they are in.

We are also seeing mobile make real inroads into healthcare where it is well suited as this is an industry where many do not sit at a traditional desk, but are always on the go. The industry is embracing mobile technologies to let practitioners coordinate patient care inside and outside the hospital.

EME: How do you promote a progressive IT culture?

MJ: Organizations that are promoting a progressive IT culture are embracing open source communities and non-traditional work environments. This is being driven by a millennial culture that understands the idea that mobility allows you to work anywhere/anytime. Organizations that are embracing these environments allow for innovation by their employees and work on the idea of allowing individuals to “fail-fast” when they are trying new innovative ideas out.

The idea of failing fast pertains to mobile app development and working in a sandbox type environment, quickly building prototype apps and getting them into the hands of actual users with the idea that they may be a MVP (minimum viable product) rather than delaying and waiting until every ‘I’ is cross and ‘T’ dotted. Users in the mobile world are much more forgiving of flaws in the product if they know they are going to get fixes quickly and organizations that allow their employees to experiment with the knowledge that they won’t face grave consequences if the app is not perfect are going to find more success in hiring and in their mobile apps themselves.

EME: When thinking about the idea of becoming more mobile centric or “mobile-first,” are there cost benefits associated with deploying mobile apps versus traditional apps?

MJ: I don’t necessarily see a lot in the cost savings aspect of developing mobile versus traditional apps; the benefits are more in the targeting of audiences with smaller, more efficient ‘task-oriented’ applications. These can cost less, but often are add-ons to legacy applications and require full support and maintenance. I look at being mobile-centric as a profit center for IT organizations where they can take data and systems that traditionally sat in the background and utilize them to create new revenue streams for the company.