Andrei MigatchevAndrei Migatchev

While writing this article and closing off the discussion on enterprise mobility, I stumbled upon a very interesting article (Thanks Twitter!) on “consumerisation” of the enterprise. Consumerisation refers to an increasing trend for new information technologies to first emerge in the consumer market and then follow into the enterprises and government institutions.

With the advancements in mobile technologies and ever-growing app markets, the enterprise is struggling to catch up with the development and deployment of thick applications, published to a limited selection of mobile devices. It is not uncommon in the industry to take nine to 12 months to develop a mobile application and a further three to six months every time it needs to be updated or enhanced. Such slow application roll-out speeds makes it difficult for the enterprises to compete with the consumer apps in functionality and usability.

Taking it one step further, a significant portion of non-game-related apps downloaded from the app stores provide the same type of connectivity and integration to the back-end ERP, CRM, workforce management software or other enterprise systems. Apps for shopping online, making travel reservations, checking movies, events, online banking and others, all connect to some back-end enterprise system and perform real-time financial transactions.

So what is the trick here? And how can organisations leverage the ever growing consumerisation of the enterprise?

• Agile software development lifecycles and continuous involvement of end users during the design and
development process;
• Single purpose, service-enabled lightweight mobile apps; and
• Adoption and continuous use of productivity mobile platforms and rapid application development environments.

Furthermore, cloud-based solutions and OTA (Over the Air) provisioning of applications on the various devices enables fast roll-out and update of mobile apps, whether the apps are targeted at the organisation’s workforce or its consumer base.

Last, but not the least, is the question of cost. Developing applications targeted at a specific device escalate the costs of hardware and software over a medium to long term period. Something that might be attractive now may, over time, cost far more in this rapidly evolving market due to:

• New and more powerful devices released at an increased rate, rendering the chosen hardware platform obsolete in a matter of months rather than years, making repair/ replacement costs prohibitive;
• Software and operating systrem updates stay up to speed with the hardware releases often resulting in questionable or unavailable backwards compatibility, forcing organisations either to stay with older technologies or incur additional costs of mobile app modernisation and/or rewrites; and
• Increasing popularity of bring your own device (BYOD) makes it difficult for the organisations to use employee-owned devices. Alternatively when BYOD is adopted there are some financial and technical questions.

In tackling consumerisation, start looking at the consumer market for inspiration and innovative ways to mobilise the enterprise, to find the fine balance between enterprise mobility and consumer mobility. The key concepts from this series are to build and deliver thin, easily deployed mobile apps, tap into the enterprises’ back-end systems and provide on-the-go functionality to users in your enterprise.