7 Enterprise Mobility Predictions For 2013

Smartphones and tablets fueled the rise of BYOD in 2012, but better management of those devices is top of mind in 2013.

Michael Endler, Associate Editor, InformationWeek.com

January 2, 2013

10 Min Read

Oxford American Dictionaries chose "GIF" as 2012's word of the year. But if CIOs were voting, the winner might have been "BYOD," short for "bring your own device."

The proliferation of user-owned smartphones and tablets across the workplace isn't going to stop, so it's likely BYOD-related terms will continue to pepper the IT lexicon a year from now. Many of the practices and technologies that surround these devices are primed for a shake-up, however. What will 2013 mean to enterprise mobility strategies? We break down seven trends to watch in the new year.

1. MDM Will Take The Enterprise By Storm -- Even Though It's Dead

In 2012, we saw BYOD programs garner praise for enabling mobile workers, creating new business opportunities and improving efficiency. They also unleashed a deluge of security threats. This dichotomy demands a balancing act: corporate data is increasingly accessed outside a business's network and must be protected, but because the devices are employee owned, security precautions have to respect user privacy.

Mobile device management (MDM) vendors have been quick to respond to this challenge, but their products haven't been as widely adopted as the mobile devices they seek to oversee. In a December blog post, Gartner VP Phil Redman wrote that only around 20% of medium and large businesses had purchased MDM tools. An InformationWeek Reports survey published in late November found similar rates: 26% of respondents had already deployed a product and another 17% indicated they were in the process of doing so.

Though MDM purchases haven't kept pace with BYOD headlines, the products have nonetheless produced substantial business; in his blog post, Redman pegged 2012 MDM revenues at over $500 million. IDC forecasts that these tools will account for $1.8 billion in revenue by 2016. Gartner predicts an upsurge as well, as does the InformationWeek Reports survey, which found 72% of respondents expect to broaden their respective BYOD programs. A full 90% of those polled said that smartphones and tablets will become more crucial to business productivity.

Device management, in short, will increase in prevalence -- but there's a catch: MDM is dead, at least in its traditional form. Provisioning and tracking devices will still have a place, but data protection has emerged as a far more important product feature. The expense of replacing a misplaced iPhone or stolen Surface tablet is finite -- but if passwords, financial information, corporate strategy reports or other information falls into the wrong hands, the cost could be incalculable. As a result, expect MDM to fade from marketing language in 2013, replaced by MAM (mobile application management) or MEM (mobile enterprise management).

2. Big Companies Will Muscle Into The Mobile Management Game

MDM and MAM products in 2012 were largely produced by focused, pure-play vendors such as MobileIron, AirWatch, Zenprise and Good Technology. When Citrix acquired Zenprise in early December, however, the deal immediately sparked predictions that more mergers are imminent. In Gartner analyst Phil Redman's above-mentioned blog post, he suggested that companies such as Cisco, HP and Oracle might be in the market for new MDM tools. Dell might be another, given its taste for acquisitions and increased interest in wrangling mobile devices. While it remains to be seen who will be involved, expect more MDM and MAM vendors to be snapped up by large companies.

3. MDM Patent Lawsuits

Among patent cases involving mobile devices, Apple vs. Samsung was 2012's top headline-grabber. A litigious attitude infected the entire industry, though, and Good Technology's lawsuits against MobileIron and AirWatch, both filed in November, are some of the courtroom battles to watch in 2013.

Good's strongly worded infringement claims not only involve broad capabilities common to most MDM products, such as remote wipe, but also rely on patents that were issued before smartphones, much less BYOD, existed. As such, the case's resolution could ripple throughout the entire industry, affecting not only standalone vendors like AirWatch and MobileIron but also bigger companies keen to expand their mobility portfolios through acquisitions.

In a phone interview, 451 Research analyst Chris Hazelton noted that the lawsuits coincide with a Department of Defense RFP for MDM tools. The chosen proposal, to be announced by April, will give the winner a potential three-year contract that Hazelton characterized as "the largest deal out there to date."

"Part of the requirement was to disclose any litigation," he stated, "so the timing of the lawsuit is interesting." 4. 2013 Will Be A Busy Year For App Developers

IT departments will have to deal with tight purse strings in 2013, but mobile app development is one of the few areas in which enterprises are looking to increase spending.

Line-of-business apps will drive much of this activity. Smartphones and tablets redefined the way many professionals did their jobs in 2012. Sales, aviation and medicine were just a few of the industries that improved operations by untethering employees. An Intel study found that most IT staffers see BYOD more as a productivity booster than a cost saver, a conclusion that jives with the InformationWeek Reports survey mentioned above. As businesses find new ways to harness mobility in 2013, the demands for specialized apps and support will only increase.

Retail is another space likely to keep app developers busy. A study conducted by IDC and Appcelerator anticipates that 86% of consumers will access a store's website on a mobile device while inside that store's physical location, and that electronic wallets will become a bigger part of the shopping ritual. Major ripples could come from loyalty apps that utilize real-time, location-based data to deliver targeted advertising.

5. HTML5 Apps Will Become More Popular

The variety of mobile operating systems poses potential difficulty for developers. IDC and Appcelerator found that app builders are predictably enthusiastic about iOS and, to a slightly lesser extent, Android. Developers also showed strong interest in HTML5; it was the only platform besides iOS and Android that more than 60% of developers expressed intentions about.

HTML5 isn't perfect but it's accessible and boasts support from some of tech's biggest names. As cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) gain popularity, Gartner sees HTML5 apps supplanting native versions as the primary delivery method for mobile content. At least one of the programming language's appeals is obvious: Because apps are accessed through browsers, they don't have to be re-written for each OS. Third-party tools such as IBM's Worklight already serve this purpose, but HTML5 offers a simple, cost-free and familiar pathway. Vendors such as ionGrid have started marketing app deployment around the browser approach.

Native apps aren't going away. Gartner notes that they'll continue to offer a more sophisticated and satisfying experience, and anyone who's endured shoddy network coverage can appreciate that browser-based apps can impede productivity as much as accelerate it. Nevertheless, expect to see HTML5 among the most commonly requested developer skills in 2013.

6. No Major Disruptions To The Mobile OS Hierarchy

RIM and Microsoft hope to make inroads with BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone 8, respectively. Though neither platform can be completely dismissed, don't expect either to threaten Android or iOS.

Google's mobile OS led the field in 2012, and both IDC and Gartner expect more of the same for the next three years. IDC credits OEM support as part of Android's success, and the aforementioned IDC-Appcelerator survey found strong developer enthusiasm as well: More than three-quarters of those polled expressed interest in developing apps for Android phones and 64% in developing for Android tablets.

Apple's iOS appeared uncharacteristically mortal at points in 2012, losing market share to Android during the wait for iPhone 5 and suffering a rare drop in customer loyalty. Once iOS 6 and the iPhone 5 arrived, though, the platform silenced any questions about its staying power, the Maps debacle notwithstanding.

Though Gartner and IDC anticipate the OS will be a distant second to Android in terms of smartphone market share, iOS remains the top developer draw, with 89% of the IDC-Appcelerator respondents indicating iPhone interest. On the tablet scene, Apple will continue to be top dog. IDC expects the iPad family, which is likely to grow stronger thanks to the iPad Mini, to own around half the market through at least 2016.

Neither Windows Phone 8 nor Windows RT has made a huge splash so far, but analysts expect Microsoft's mobile offerings to settle into the third spot in their respective markets in 2013. IDC anticipates the platforms will represent a little over one-tenth of the field by 2016. Gartner foresees more interest from enterprises than consumers, and expects Windows 8 tablets and ultramobiles to account for around 40% of mobile devices bought by businesses three years from now. The performance of the Surface Pro, which runs Windows 8 Pro and is due in early 2013, should be one of this year's most closely watched Microsoft stories.

As for RIM, the one-time enterprise staple is losing customers left and right. It's also a weak draw among developers. Still, BlackBerry 10 has generated favorable buzz in some quarters, so there's still hope for RIM devotees. IDC expects fewer than 5% of smartphones to run a BlackBerry OS over the next three years.

7. Virtualization And The Cloud Will Become Bigger Deals

BYOD forces IT to manage corporate content on devices that aren't company owned, and doing so without infringing on user privacy can be a challenge. The ability to cleanly separate business data from personal data is thus one of mobility's holy grails, and many technologies are vying to lead the way. Confining data to app containers and encrypted wrappers is a popular approach that controls how data is used, but because this method usually stores data locally it's not as secure as most admins would like. We should see more companies experiment with alternate approaches, such as virtualization and cloud-based solutions, in 2013.

451 Research's Hazelton said, "2013 will bring a lot more integration between mobile apps and the cloud. Wherever possible, you won't have data that resides on the device." He remarked that the next 12 months could be "make or break" for virtualization technologies such as VMware's Project Horizon Suite. It and other virtualization products will have to answer some persistent doubts. Mobile hypervisors are notorious battery hogs, for example, and session persistence can be an issue. Nevertheless, virtualization's security appeal can't be ignored.

The broader cloud outlook, meanwhile, will heavily involve browser-based app deployments and SaaS. Expect to see more products that advertise secure browsers that allow broader IT control than the OS's standard version.

Cloud and virtualization are unlikely to take over completely because they cannot be accessed at will. An employee who wants to work on corporate data during a flight, for example, will have trouble linking to the cloud while doing so. As a result, most comprehensive offerings will continue to include options for locally storing files within an IT-controllable container.

About the Author(s)

Michael Endler

Associate Editor, InformationWeek.com

Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 and, pending the completion of a long-gestating thesis, will hold an MA in Cinema Studies from San Francisco State.

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