David M Smith

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

David Mitchell Smith
VP & Gartner Fellow
16 years at Gartner
30 years IT industry

David Mitchell Smith is a vice president and Gartner Fellow in Gartner Research, where he specializes in the impact of catalytic technologies such as the Internet, Web 2.0, cloud computing and consumer technologies. Read Full Bio

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Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

by David M. Smith  |  September 4, 2013  |  Comments Off

Getting to mobile today is an imperative for enterprises. But there are many obstacles to success. The range from development to deployment and span issues ranging from tools to management and security and increasingly take their cures from consumerization and BYOD. BYOD is an opportunity to ignite behaviors with your workforce, partners, and customers with direct touch that enterprises have not really had until now. When done correctly there are productivity and cost benefits. The very moving of the device expenses alone to employees is a key part. But without rethinking management and support issues, many are throwing those savings away and sometimes actually spending more.

BYOD, if the benefits are to be obtained, must allow for the employee choice which means the old days of issuing a company provided, specified, and managed device are over. And the potential complexities of allowing use of many types of devices can be overwhelming, especially if the same old tight management approaches continue.

Following a “less is more” approach can help. Manage and support less – use ‘best effort’, use ‘lightly managed’ approaches. Approaches such as Exchange ActiveSync with remote wipe may well be good enough.

But one of the real complexities is app development and deployment. Many who have been waiting for HTML5/web approaches to mature have instead embarked upon hybrid (or native) approaches often utilizing mostly web technologies to develop but then having to figure out how to get the resulting apps on the devices.

Hybrid allows for the best of both worlds (standard development and discoverability) but also causes reliance on the worst of both worlds (potential performance issues, and the requirement to install the apps). The result is a byzantine maze of offerings from a wide variety of MADP vendors solving the problems in unique, often proprietary ways. Or dependencies on public app stores and updates constrained by an external approval process. And/or requirement to work with existing or planned MDM/MAM approaches that come from management and security concerns.

This has left many enterprise developers frozen and not doing as much as they would like to be able to be doing. What is needed is a very lightweight, standard, open, method for bridging the development and deployment world. One that allows for anyone to be able to deploy anything, anywhere without concern for all these issues. It won’t happen overnight. It will require cooperation among competitors. It will require some patience. But we are seeing some signs. Apache Cordova, Webkit/Chromium rendering engines, standards efforts, and next gen app store initiatives will drive this. It will likely come from the consumer world and be good enough for most enterprises.

There will of course be some high security/compliance enterprise scenarios where this will be insufficient. But those will be the exception and not the rule.

At the same time in the consumer world Web app stores are evolving. Amazon Google and others are working towards strategies that help enable monetization of apps written in web technologies. Some of these efforts focus on browser deployment but increasingly they are making use of some kind of lightweight container technology. This will be a major contributor to the efforts.

This can be done now, but not as openly as most want. The openness will happen in the next 2-3 years. Enterprises should welcome these lightweight approaches as it will enable them to stop snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

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