It has taken a while, but the enterprise is finally starting to embrace mobility at scale, with 63% of organisations “believing that mobility provides a competitive advantage.”
The reasons for this evolution are threefold. For one, evidence now exists proving that employees with mobile access to critical workflows increase their productivity by 50%. Secondly, when productivity is enhanced, the opportunity to maximise cost savings – the primary motivation of most enterprise decision makers - rises exponentially. Thirdly, the consumerisation of IT is driving employees to demand greater workplace flexibility and 24/7 on-demand access.
With the rise of employees demanding anytime, anywhere access to their work, IT departments are tightening their already stringent security protocols. This increase in security is largely representative of the post bring your own device (BYOD) world, in which enterprise employees now bring an average of three devices into the workplace regularly. Infact, Gartner predicts that by 2017, 50%of employees will be required to bring their own devices to work.
“Employees are revolting against virtualised applications as they are woefully unable to deliver the consumer-like user experience they expect”
This proliferation of mobile devices in the enterprise, coupled with the rapid increase in device models, platforms, operating systems and versions has driven the widespread adoption and success of mobile device management (MDM) and the deployment of secure enterprise mobile app stores. These solutions are mandatory for the enterprise to maintain and ensure the security and control of endpoints from a myriad of internal and external threats.
However, despite the ascent of mobile devices in the workplace, less than 25% of companies have deployed any meaningful mobile apps beyond PIM applications, such as email and calendar. This is largely due to the lack of tools and resources needed to extend legacy systems, not built for mobile consumption, out to a myriad of endpoints.
Virtualisation ≠ mobilisation
To date, application virtualisation has been the most secure, cost effective and timely method for enterprises to extend legacy applications out to mobile devices. As Gartner notes in their recent report, “virtualisation technologies provide a faster route to mobilising back-end applications.”
However, the benefits of application virtualisation for mobile are greatly diminished by the poor and untenable user experience that it affords. As a result, employees are revolting against virtualised applications as they are woefully unable to deliver the consumer-like user experience they expect. Users want to be delighted with very focused apps that enable them to perform specific tasks in the shortest time and most convenient way possible. Thus, virtualisation as a mobile solution is unresponsive to the needs and demands of an efficient and profitable mobile worker.
The ‘app gap’
A clear ‘app gap’ exists between application virtualisation and endpoint security and control. The unintended consequences of this ‘app gap’ are that the workflows employees need most to do their jobs effectively are not being mobilised, because of time, complexity, cost and security considerations.
As evidence of this, research shows that only 5% of the workflows associated with enterprise applications have been extended out to mobile devices. Clearly, the ‘app gap’ is debilitating what the enterprise needs most – a productive, yet cost effective mobile workforce.
“The ‘app gap’ remains the biggest limitation to the enterprise and its pursuit of mobility”
If current virtualisation technologies are sub-optimal for the consumption of applications on PCs, and untenable for consumption on mobile devices, what options do companies have to bridge this ‘app gap’?
New technology to solve the ‘app gap’
As enterprises continue to determine where the budget for business to employee mobility falls (67% of CIOs have no specific budget for enterprise mobility), new solutions and technologies are arising to fill this gap. While maintaining the integrity of enterprise security is supremely important, it must be accomplished without prohibiting the user experience. According to an article produced by Intel, “enabling a modern ‘consumerised’ experience for users is absolutely critical to the advancement of mobility in the enterprise.”
Three emerging solutions that aim to solve the ‘app gap’ are:
- App refactoring/App transformation combines the benefits of application virtualisation, with the native user experience expected of mobile apps. These solutions re-factor or transform the backend application and specific workflows for consumption on mobile endpoints.
- Rapid mobile application development (RMAD) tools present simpler, faster development approaches that yield rapid delivery by a wider range of lower-cost resources. RMADs aim to replace traditional coding with drag-and-drop codeless tools that allow business analysts to construct mobile apps without the assistance of IT.
- Mobile backend as a service (MBaaS) provides mobile developers with a way to leverage unified APIs and SDKs to connect mobile apps to backend applications. MBaaS tools are essentially “middleware” between apps and backend applications, which allows developers to focus on delivering rich user experiences instead of dealing with tedious backend infrastructure.
The ‘app gap’ remains the biggest limitation to the enterprise and its pursuit of mobility. For those in decision-making roles, it is important to find balance between MDM and application mobilisation in order to provide employees with the flexibility, satisfaction, and opportunity that they have come to expect.