One of the mainstays of the local tech scene over the last five years has been Mobile Monday, started by two of Brisbane’s most recognised entrepreneurs, Chris Kettle and Mark White. It’s an event that is so well attended each month, that the organisers have started selling tickets to late registrants at $50 a pop.
Given its popularity and role in bringing various sections of the community together to talk mobile each month, TSJ is making it the first regular event to get its own column. More than that, Sarina Quinlan from Marketing Digital and The Fetch Brisbane will be our MoMo Brisbane correspondent, giving us the Mobile Monday lowdown every month. Welcome aboard Sarina!
At Mobile Monday last night, mobility in the enterprise was the topic of the evening. A panel of four industry experts fronted the audience to give their views on a number of issues in the mobile enterprise space. The panel consisted of Mustafa Bensan from GoMobileBI, Darren Ridgers from UXC Oxygen, Tony van der Linden from Queensland Rail and Dale Rankine from Cloud Sherpas. Danielle Cullen from Clarimont moderated proceedings.
The panel first discussed how mobile solutions providers can find their way into the enterprise. One way, the panel suggested, is to make sure you’re delivering value to the executive team. Once you crack the C-Suite, the door will be open to providing solutions to the rest of the business. That’s an interesting and somewhat surprising insight, because in recent times companies such as Dropbox have found their way into enterprises by delivering value directly to end users using a consumer sales model, bypassing traditional enterprise sales.
According to the panel, the enterprise mobile space lags the consumer space by about three years in terms of its appetite for mobile solutions. There’s a lot of learning happening within businesses around how mobility redefines work processes and the value mobile can provide. There is an expectation that mobile take up in the enterprise will surge, it’s just unclear when that will be.
The panel turned to discussing the benefits of mobile to the enterprise. One company saved $3 million in six months by reducing printing costs. Mobile solutions can facilitate better coordination amongst staff. For instance, simply snapping a photo of a problem in the field can ensure that the right technicians are sent to fix it, reducing the occurrence of needless round trips by assessors. SAP’s mobile business analytics tools were also praised as an example of how key insights about the enterprise can be shared quickly and easily.
Apparently most enterprises want solutions that are composed of 80 per cent off-the-shelf software. Enterprises, it seems, don’t want to build their own solutions if they can help it. That’s good news for startups who can provide targeted products and services to enterprise customers.
How, then, to go about developing a mobile product in the enterprise space? The starting point, said the panel, is to audit the apps the business users already using. Also find off-the-shelf desktop applications that match functional requirements, and seek to move those onto mobile through proofs of concept.
The degree to which you can help customers through the changes brought about by enabling mobile in the enterprise is a key success factor. Engaging early around change management is crucial, as is thinking about project management methodologies that are already in place within an enterprise organisation, such as Prince2 and Waterfall. To combat the inflexibility of these existing project management methodologies, hybrid models that introduce Agile into organisations are emerging.
The panel ended the formal proceedings by discussing likely trends over the next twelve months. There’ll be more enterprise-ready offerings from the major mobile platform vendors. The panel was excited to see an Android distribution specifically targeted at the enterprise, and also flagged the start of the Apple move into the enterprise space with iOS7. It’s debatable whether this marks a significant change in strategy for Apple, which has had a singular focus on the consumer market. While iOS 7 ships with more “enterprise friendly” features than earlier versions, there’s no sign of a separate enterprise edition of iOS. Resisting the urge to spawn multiple versions of a product has traditionally been one of Apple’s strengths.
In brief, all the panelists believed the mobile enterprise space was about to get really hot over the coming year. It will only take one of the big name software vendors to make a definitive move into mobile enterprise to really kickstart rapid growth in that area.