The consumer has been at the forefront of mobility revolution in India.
A majority of Indian CIOs says that enterprise mobility will play a critical role in conducting day-to-day operations in their organisation. Many have also stated that mobility will be a key part of their enterprise strategy. However, enterprises, both large and medium, face challenges that are slowing mobility adoption.
The consumer has been at the forefront of mobility revolution in India. By the end of 2013, the total Internet user base in India was at 213 million, a 42% year-on-year growth. In the same year, mobile Internet user base grew 92 to 130 million. More than 100 million users from India are on Facebook. This growing adoption of mobility by Indian consumers is widely expected to fuel its adoption in the enterprise. In the last couple of years, surveys conducted by PwC among the CXO level staff cutting across industries have indicated a strong demand for mobility by enterprises. However, adoption of enterprise mobility is facing bumps along the road that are impeding adoption rates.
For Indian enterprises, challenges occur at different levels of the organisation: senior management level and worker/employee level. A top concern for the senior management is security and compliance: how can data be protected from leaving the corporate walls? We also observe that senior management, under pressure to achieve short-term goals, cannot justify ROI for the additional investment. As far as workers and employees—the end users of mobility systems— are concerned, the key challenge has been providing the right user experience. Quite often, training sessions need to be conducted to overcome the learning barrier involved in understanding the system. Lastly, mobility architecture also comes with an overhead to manage the fragmented OS platforms. To sum it up, the top challenges impeding mobility adoption are (i) security, (ii) ROI justification, (iii) poor user experience and (iv) device fragmentation.
The good news for enterprises is that there are answers to all the challenges they face across the organisation. Security concerns are being addressed by innovative solutions in the industry. Security software providers like CipherCloud and Perspecsys offer encryption at multiple layers: storage, network, cloud and mobile devices. Not only is data encrypted locally, it is also encrypted on storage devices that reside in the cloud. In the event of a data theft, the encrypted data is rendered useless since encryption keys are stored within corporate walls and the keys never leave the corporate firewalls. The Indian start-up ecosystem has started offering verticals solutions for enterprises to address security concerns. Bangalore based Avaamo (which recently raised $6.3 million), offers a secure mobile messaging app for the mobile workforce. Another Bangalore based security startup, i7 Networks, offers BYOD solution for enterprises using network level encryption.
As far as ROI justification is concerned, the senior management needs to look at mobility from a strategic viewpoint and should start by identifying specific business cases. For instance, a good mobility business case for an insurance company will be to provide the sales force with access to key customer information on the go. With a 360-degree view of customers and prospects in their mobile devices, the sales force will be more informed and equipped to make decisions on the field. Mobility enables not only a more efficient sales force, but also a more effective one.
From a usability point of view, a majority of mobility systems in the market today have been built with high focus on functionality. Quoting Dan Norman, the design guru, a well-designed product will perform at three levels: visceral (visual and graphical appeal), behavioural (functionality) and reflective (self-image and the message it conveys). Unfortunately, many mobility platforms today do not invest enough in interaction and visual design. What this leads to is a complex and non-intuitive interface for the employees/ workers, which leads to lower productivity. Mobility platform providers should take cues from consumer Internet titans (Apple, Google, etc) to build more usable products.
With each passing quarter, mobile operating system platforms are getting increasingly fragmented. The Android platform is notorious for being so fragmented that it can be a technical team’s nightmare to ensure functional consistency across devices. Despite being a closed system (unlike Android), Apple’s iOS platform is also getting fragmented with the recent launch of iPhone 6 phones. For an enterprise, building a custom mobility solution and also maintaining it can be a challenge. Mobility platform providers have long known about this problem. In the last couple of years, promising mobile application development platforms have emerged. Vendors like Appcelerator, Xamarin and Kony are providing cross-platform support, integration with cloud-based services and an ecosystem of tools. These platforms ultimately result in higher ROI as they reduce the cost of application development and maintenance.
As the era of Internet of Things dawns upon us, enterprises cutting across different industries are increasingly looking at mobility to drive their bottom line. For some, it is about improving the efficiency of their workforce by enabling better collaboration and improving employee productivity. For some, it is about being effective and reaching more customers to conduct business better than competition. Whether an enterprise wants to do the right thing (effective) or do the thing right (efficient), the time is now.
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