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Mobile Trendsetter: Chris Marsh, Yankee Group

Chris Marsh Headshot.jpgLast week we chatted with Al Sacco of CIO.com, who talked with us about wearable technology, BYOD and the changing role of the CIO. To continue our Mobile Trendsetter Interview Series on the HP Enterprise Services Blog, we met with Chris Marsh, Principal Analyst with Yankee Group.

 

Chris is one of the top thought leaders on how mobile, social and cloud technologies are impacting enterprises.

 

Of course, we wanted to learn more about Chris’ take on the current state of the enterprise and mobility, so we sat down with him to discuss:

 

 

Tell us about yourself—what is your role in the technology industry and how did you get here?

 

Chris: I am a principal analyst with Yankee Group. Combined with our parent company the 451 Group, we have one of, if not the largest, dedicated enterprise mobility research practices. In our practice we focus on the innovation that is driving, and at the same time disrupting, mobile strategies for the enterprise. IT is rarely given the opportunity to start fresh with a blank slate, so any mobile strategy must contend with legacy infrastructure. Our research will guide companies in bridging the gap between current architectures and a mobile first world. Within this team my own particular research focuses around enterprises’ mobile application strategies.

 

Mobility is a mega trend impacting both consumers and businesses. How do you see mobility changing the enterprise?

 

Chris: If we extend the definition of ‘mobility’ to include the raft of wearable, Internet of Things, beacon and other sensors then there will be more data, more contextual awareness in that data and more intelligence that can be applied to continually enhance the value of that data to the enterprise. This will allow them to fundamentally re-envision how they engage their customers, employees and partners. The new business models that will arise around the mobile channel as the delivery of new experiences, workflows and processes will be transformative for entire industries.

 

How is consumerization and BYOD affecting enterprises?

 

Chris: A condensed way to think about the major dynamics that mobility is driving for the enterprises are the three C’s – consumerization, complexity and consolidation. Our own 2014 US Enterprise Mobility: Employee Survey, June, shows that 62 percent of all US employees use a smartphone for some kind of work purpose with 79 percent of those devices being employee owned.

 Chris Marsh Quote 1.jpg

Thirty percent of employees use consumer productivity applications for work and an additional 26 percent want to. Fourteen percent of employees use these applications even knowing full well that their IT department policy is to prohibit them, and this is likely to be under-reporting. All together the cascading of consumer technologies into the workplace has over a short space of time wrenched control away from the employer.

 

What are some of the challenges enterprises are facing in terms of mobile security, policy and compliance?

 

Chris: This growing tide of consumerization has resulted in huge complexity for enterprises. Our 2014 US Enterprise Mobility: IT Decision-Maker Survey, June, shows mobile security being the top technological concern for enterprises over the coming year, with 44 percent reporting that they find it extremely difficult to apply consistent and scalable security policies across their mobile assets. A whole and growing segment of Enterprise Mobility Management tools has emerged over the past five or so years to try and give companies back control.

 

For companies it is very challenging to ensure they are balancing the requirements for security around corporate data with the privacy and usability concerns of employees. At the nexus of these requirements the focus is shifting from managing the device to being able to assert policy, security and controls around the applications and the data. No vendor has the full answer to this yet, and so we will continue to see both commoditization and redundancy of services not getting this balance right, and new disruptions that do.

 

While mobility brings challenges, it also brings great opportunities. What are some of the biggest opportunities?

 

Chris: Of course there are many horizontal and vertical industry specific opportunities that mobility will engender. It is tempting to think of snazzy device functionality or engaging applications as the value here, but that is missing the point. Fundamentally if we synthesise the different potential opportunities what we are looking at is a new, flatter, and more contextually-aware data model which will give companies a way to break down the silos that have defined both organizational processes and the legacy technology reinforcing those silos.

 

Companies will consequently become more continuously agile in how they add value to their interaction with the mobile user in a very iterative and real-time manner. From this comes the ability to disrupt with new innovations developed, deployed and optimised much quicker than technology currently allows.

 

What are some of the best practices you’ve seen for mobile deployment?

 

Chris: Most companies are still very opportunistic when it comes to how they think about and deploy mobile solutions despite thinking they are being strategic. In our surveys 62 percent of companies say they have a comprehensive mobile strategy, but when we dig down into what they actually mean by this it is mostly tactical—the white and blacklisting of applications, policies around what qualifies for a corporately provisioned device and what part of the mobile bill can be expensed. Those companies that have taken a more strategic posture however are those that have brought some greater organizational alignment to decision-making.

 

Typically this happens in some kind of Centre of Excellence where they are not only thinking about the near, medium and longer term opportunities, but they are looking at what the common architecture needs to be to support mobility, and what those tools, platforms, services and partners need to be to introduce greater automation into the workflows around mobile projects to facilitate scale across the business.

 

One of the interesting parts of this is the way some companies are taking an API-first approach of architecting solutions based around an architecture of corporate data being exposable for its consumption by other parts of their organization or externally by partners as a standard. These companies are also the ones who realise that success with mobility, given the huge amount of technological and supply-side flux rests not in a big bang or even gulps of big bang deployments, but it much lighter and quicker deployments which are iterated rapidly based on user feedback and performance monitoring.

 

Finally our research shows how companies who put some kind of thought into how to measure the ROI from their deployments are those who subsequently reporting higher levels of satisfaction and activity with the tools supporting those deployments. Getting a perfectly representative ROI measurement is not the point, companies should be aiming to understand how to appraise their tools and the impact on the user, and as with the method of iterative adjustment to deployed solutions, iteratively improve how they measure the return.

 

Any other thoughts on mobile in the enterprise?

 

Chris: My last comment would be for enterprises to just get started. There is no time to wait for the high amount of flux to settle down. In hindsight we will see that fortune will have favoured those who with a cool-headed bravery embrace change as the new norm!

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