In thinking back over this past year and on the many, many conversations I’ve had with customers, I believe that mobility is really top of mind when it comes to all of the collaboration technologies available to us.  Over 80% of customers I’ve talked to are in the midst of developing their mobile device strategies, policies and processes right now. Once those strategies are in place, IT leaders will become very aggressive about deploying them.

Why is this significant?  Because how we use mobile devices in the enterprise changes everything we do – how we sell and how we bring products to market and, ultimately, how we work.  And for IT, it changes how we deliver services. So rather than thinking about large ERP system updates, we need to be thinking of what tasks from an ERP system could be an app or app-like. We have to think mobility first – specifically how we can deliver services that enable our employees to accomplish simple work tasks using apps on our mobile devices. Even more challenging is how we can best deliver transactional systems in a simple way. 

The mobile app phenomenon has literally transformed how we get things done as consumers.  Let’s use the holiday season as an example. When flying to our holiday destination, we can check in to our flight using an airline app.  While spending time with friends and family, we hit the local movie theater – conducting a search, finding movie reviews, locating the closest theater and most convenient time, and purchase our tickets all on our mobile device. If we want to find out whether the gifts we shipped to loved ones have arrived, we check the shipper’s delivery app. We can perform a variety of banking transactions and refill prescriptions from our smartphones. 

So our mobile devices have enabled us to perform all types of tasks simply, efficiently and quickly – offering search, findability, content delivery, and ecommerce. Apps have allowed us to take all of these actions – all with a simple and easy user experience.

The challenge for us in IT is to think the same way:  providing app-like service capabilities.  We need to “think in chunks” as we deliver our E-stores, stocking our virtual store shelves with apps for all work functions. 

Which brings me to the theme of my blog:  mobility first. Mobility removes all physical barriers.  Our employees can work while in the airport, from home, at our kids’ soccer match, or wherever we are. So, it’s clear mobility offers tremendous benefits such as flexibility and productivity. As IT professionals we have to have a “mobile first” mindset for both devices and apps. At the same time, we are thinking about protecting and securing these mobile devices, the apps and the data. Security is critical to guard intellectual property, financial transactions, confidential employee information and other highly sensitive data, particularly for firms that are in heavily regulated industries.   

And looking ahead, we will have to adapt to the ongoing introduction of new devices and enterprise tablets – even more are on the way.

In closing, consider that the mobile app market will be ringing in the New Year with more than $30 billion dollars in its pocket according to ABI Research – almost double the amount in 2011.  Companies can learn a lot from what’s happening in the consumer space. Our biggest challenge is how to deliver transactional systems as apps to our respective workforces.

So as you look ahead to 2013, remember:  mobility first!

Happy Collaborating!