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Mobility And Enterprise 2.0: Are These Two Ready To Play Together?

I just returned from a panel on business mobility at Enteprise 2.0 called "Integrating the Mobile Worker." Everyone there seemed eager to learn one thing: Is business mobility ready for Enterprise 2.0? The answer: You'd better make sure all those Enterprise 2.0 applications can work on smartphones.
I just returned from a panel on business mobility at Enteprise 2.0 called "Integrating the Mobile Worker." Everyone there seemed eager to learn one thing: Is business mobility ready for Enterprise 2.0? The answer: You'd better make sure all those Enterprise 2.0 applications can work on smartphones.The session, moderated by Johna Till Johnson of Nemertes Research, mainly focused on ways CIOs and senior IT managers can plan for more mobility.

Panelists included Mark Chellis, director of product marketing, Motorola Enterprise Mobility; Jim Hemmer, president and CEO, Antenna Software; Alan Panezic, VP of software product management, Research In Motion; and Glenn Dale of Nokia.

The panelists all stressed a simple fact: Mobility is shifting from the tactical to the strategic. Organizations that get this will be better positioned to leverage mobility, and those that don't, won't. There is nothing new here, but it is interesting to see just how quickly this idea has spread.

Several themes emerged during the panel. The first, pointed out by Johnson, is that businesses need to focus less on ROI and more on growing top-line revenue. While everyone loves a good ROI story, growing revenue and opening new lines of business with mobile applications will go a longer way towards getting your name in lights than just a simple ROI on the first-time investment.

The second theme, echoed by Glenn from Nokia and Johnson, is that IT managers need to go for a quick win. Identify the group or business process in the organization likely to generate more revenue because of a mobile application, and mobilize that division or task.

Everyone on the panel stressed the importance of creativity when designing a new mobile application (just how creative can mobile field service be?), but be sure to ground that creativity. Don't shoot for the stars and be realistic in terms of goal-setting and manage to these realistic goals.

The panelists were mixed on security. Chellis, Panezic, and Dale all pushed the importance of security, while Antenna's Hemmer dismissed lingering worries over mobile security as "yesterday's news."

All the panelists agreed that IT managers shouldn't listen to vendors and should instead focus on meeting their business' needs. That's all well and great, but how do IT managers actually learn how to deploy new strategic mobile applications?

The panelists didn't have a lot to offer on this front. While they served up a few case studies, there wasn't much meat. When it comes to mobilizing beyond push e-mail, there just aren't that many out-of-the-box solutions or best practices. I heard everyone on this panel stress best practices, but I have to be blunt: Where are they? With the exception of a few vertical markets, like health care, there aren't that many. While the technology and the networks are ready, business mobility is still newly discovered territory for many types of deployments. There need to be more case studies and customer success stories before there will be best practices.

In closing, Johnson emphasized that any enterprise looking to launch wikis, blogs, and other Enterprise 2.0 applications had better make sure these apps work on smartphones because mobile users are often the ones who most need them.