Mobile
Commentary
6/1/2007
12:36 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary
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Where Is the Mobile Enterprise Market Heading?

As the number of mobile employees continues to climb, keeping them in the loop is increasingly important. It's also increasingly easier. With the proliferation of wireless broadband services and the continual onslaught of new enterprise devices and software services, there's nowhere for the market to go but up.

As the number of mobile employees continues to climb, keeping them in the loop is increasingly important. It's also increasingly easier. With the proliferation of wireless broadband services and the continual onslaught of new enterprise devices and software services, there's nowhere for the market to go but up.Already one out of every five workers is mobile.

Over the Air blogger Stephen Wellman shared some stats from a recent Compass Intelligence study yesterday that highlighted what companies spend on that 20%. We're talking about $9 billion on mobile applications in the next four years (hardware figures not included). Government and small business will lead the way. But what are they really going to be spending their money on?

While the mobile e-mail market has barely scratched the surface of its potential, some analysts believe the vendors in that space will begin to consolidate in the coming months. Within a few years mobile e-mail will be a commodity, something that everyone has access to. RIM, for example, already has 8 million customers. Growth will continue, but eventually everyone who needs or wants mobile e-mail will have it. And it will become cheaper and cheaper to deploy.

Whether its a cellular 3G or WiMAX WWAN, or a Wi-Fi-driven WLAN, cheap and easy wireless access to the Internet will be commonplace and spark new growth in online enterprise services. But it will be an interesting few years to see how this all comes together. Even though the potential of 3G has yet to be fully realized, 4G technologies are already peeking around the corner. And with companies like Broadcom, Qualcomm, and Nokia duking it out in court, the long-term picture is far from clear.

What about other services or tools? Compass says CRM, collaboration and file sharing figure prominently in the future. Considering the burgeoning success of hosted services such as Salesforce.com (which has 32,000 customers) and Google Apps, there's obviously a market. Making it easier to move important enterprise documents and files around and share them with the right person or persons is valuable. Being able to access them from mobile devices is more important than ever.

The number of smartphones and other mobile platforms is constantly increasing, and they are becoming ever more powerful. I am not convinced we'll ever be able to leave our laptops at home, but we'll be able to accomplish more and more without them.

What all this distills to, though, was briefly touched upon by Wellman. Businesses will cease to use mobility tactically and begin to use it strategically. Companies will begin to plan their operations around the benefits of mobility rather than gleaning those benefits tangentially. Mobility will become more and more ingrained into the way workforces remain productive.

So I suppose you could say I am bullish on the future of the mobile enterprise.

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