Eckart Zollner, JascoEckart Zollner, Jasco

Mobility is one the IDC’s so-called 3rd Platform technologies, but how is SA handling it?

Once every 20-25 years the information and communication technology (ICT) industry shifts to a new technology platform for growth and innovation. The () calls it the 3rd Platform, which it describes as an era that harnesses cloud, mobile, big data and social networking as primary catalysts for the next phase of technology innovation across the globe. According to the analysis firm, the era began five years ago and its effects will gather pace in the coming years.

From 2013 through 2020, believes that 90% of IT industry growth will be driven by 3rd Platform technologies that, today, represent just 22% of ICT spending. It also predicts that one out of five Internet users will use mobile-only by 2020 and mobile advertising spending will reach 45% of the digital market.

“Early developments since the 1990s in the mobility sector had diverging implementations between Europe, Asia and the US. Mobility is the first development based on a truly global standard,” explains , business development manager at Jasco.

For the first time common standards are being used worldwide, he says, which means that services or content from one corner of the world can be consumed at the opposite corner of the world. “Furthermore, this is driving true global collaboration. Teams of developers or content aggregators from various parts of the world can collaborate online on an application or service that is delivered from any destination to any other destination.”

According to Dion Retief, CEO of Astute Software, mobility is also the first technology to really level the playing fields between big budget corporates and SMEs. “Although mobility has been around for a while, the new generation smart phones and smarter software have made it far more accessible and cost effective for small businesses to adopt the technology,” he explains.

, mobile architect at DVT, believes mobility is continually evolving through aggressive hardware and device manufacturing campaigns, often changing or enhancing features of smart devices in six months or less. “With this change come software changes and one must therefore be geared for upkeep. Mobile natives are fast adopting new technologies so business must be innovative and adopt a design-thinking approach in order to compete and accept that change in mobility is constant. Just think the cost of a supercomputer in 1975 was $1m versus the same computing power of an iPhone 4 that retails at $400.”

The use of personal mobile devices in the workplace is an unstoppable trend and the way businesses work and run is constantly changing, says Mohammad Ismail, identity and access solutions manager for the AME region at Gemalto. “The most notable change has come in the past two to three years with the adoption of personal devices such as smartphones and tablets in the working environment. Whether one thinks of it as bring your own device (BYOD), the consumerisation of IT (COIT) or enterprise mobility, the trend is pervasive and is set to grow.”

According to , country manager at Magic Software SA, mobility is not the be all and end all. “Having a multichannel approach that incorporates the desktop or laptop, the smartphone, the tablet, the Web and the kiosk allows us to not get stuck in a singular approach,” he says.


Retief believes the mantra “mobile first” and urges all businesses to think in a similar vein. “Mobility should be applied in every possible aspect of a business,” he says. “Mobilise one area of your business where it seems to make sense and before you know it, it will apply it to areas of your business you never dreamed possible.”

However, Hall reminds us that before embarking on application development or deployment, we must remember it is all about the business process.

“One should never go mobile for the sake of going mobile,” he argues. “Assess the potential benefits of incorporating a mobile touch point within the business process and if there are enough benefits, then start compiling a strategy.”

Businesses should embrace mobility, as it allows them to offer better customer service faster, according to Zollner. “Businesses can also now structure their services to be more customer friendly, by allowing a greater measure of customer configuration, thus offering greater product and services flexibility and reducing workload for themselves. For the first time, businesses are able to more effectively balance the requirements of their employees and the control of service levels and standards. In order to do so, business systems have to be defined to support mobility and the geographic dispersion of the workforce.”

Ismail agrees enterprise mobility and BYOD policies can provide tremendous competitive advantage. “If you can eliminate buying laptops for contractors and enhance , you probably have a really clear payback. On the other hand, letting your employees use their mobile devices for more than e-mail might be a good idea, but the and IT management costs certainly blur the payback picture. This is why it is essential for CIOs to have a strategy on how to address these issues,” he says.


According to Zollner, mobility and COIT have a number of positive business outcomes. “COIT has embraced mobility and is driving mobility. Software and hardware are now designed for mobility, minimisation, and minimal power consumption. The next phase of COIT has started to move into wearable technology. Much of COIT is focusing on human interfaces and multi-language support as well as geo-tracking,” he explains.

Shelley cites , who has predicted huge benefi ts through COIT. “Enterprises should adopt and adapt social strategies to capitalise on its benefits such as brand awareness, product lobbying and gamification through these social platforms. Define your corporate strategy and increase relevance to employees and customers. Embrace mobility trends and changes,” he advises.

The benefits, both tangible and intangible, are almost endless and can only be realised once you have embarked on the mobility journey, according to Retief. “Mobility will result in savings in many areas. It will boost revenue. But some of the intangible benefits will be the most astounding like customers choosing to do business with you because you can share information about their business they didn’t even know existed,” he explains.

Hall believes the power of mobility and especially enterprise mobility is only restricted by the imagination provided the correct tools are in place. “Through our interaction with the fun and lively consumer applications our imaginations are set alight. Business now demands sexy, simple, and easy to use. Employees demand seamless, interactive and up to date information. Clients want instant and creative ways to transact and communicate with their product or service provider,” he says.

Nevin Shelley, DVTNevin Shelley, DVT

According to Ismail, there is no longer that distinct separation between business and personal lives, especially when examining the younger workforce. “Every aspect of a person’s life blends together throughout a given day. The mobile device capitalises on this shift and provides a tool to allow a person to switch from social media to corporate email and back again all from the same platform. These devices give employees the ability to access their corporate data the same way they have done with a corporate laptop, but without many of the controls,” he says.


Despite the vast benefits to mobility, issues such as mobile are still causing many businesses hesitation.

Says Hall, as enterprises adopt a more open work environment to increase productivity and satisfaction, the inherent risks of letting employees use personal mobile devices, public data networks, and hundreds of thousands of consumer applications need to be addressed. He asks, “How can employees be provided with the flexibility they need to perform their jobs while still maintaining IT and control?”

He believes mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM) platforms enable businesses to protect the device, data and content. “There are four vital aspects that require marking off when choosing a solution namely, it needs to manage the device; support remote access and control of the device; secure the application and enterprise content within the application; and monitor the real-time device data and mobile behaviours,” he explains.

Ismail believes the rise of mobility and the increase of data and sensitive corporate information stored on mobile devices make them a prime target for criminals. “And much like in the early days of the Internet or PCs, new mobile technologies are introducing new risks,” he says.

For instance, an increasing number of mobile enterprises are now moving to the cloud. “Employees need to be able to connect securely over the internet to cloudbased resources, thus making identity management and authentication more complex and challenging,” Ismail explains.

“Another risk associated with mobile solutions comes from the end user himself, who can lose the device, let an unauthorised user have access to the corporate network through his device, or generally be careless with the access capabilities the device enables,” Ismail continues. “Company information and sensitive data leaks can lead to loss of brand, reputation and potential revenue through customer attrition.”

However, despite these new risks, Ismail notes there are a number of ways to mitigate them.

“First of all, organisations must ensure devices are kept up-to-date with the latest patches, and maintain the ability to remotely wipe data from lost phones and manage applications. Mobile antivirus software is another best-practice, but hackers are constantly creating new viruses that avoid detection until they are
discovered, leaving mobile devices vulnerable to these ‘zero-day’ attacks,” he says.

However, these two methods alone do not address the issues of access and data protection, says Ismail, and IT departments can use a variety of advanced identity and access management systems to provide additional layers. “These measures help ensure that only those authorised employees are able to access certain information as well as enable restricted access to confi dential information,” he advises.


According to Shelley, SA is in its infancy when comparing the rest of the world’s mobile strategies and success. “Mobile technologies are here. We need to innovate in the workplace and consult the tech savvy Y-gen to see how mobile enterprise technologies supports specific business KPLs in order to enhance product, brand, market demographic and even create socially responsible enterprise campaigns to better promote SA and its technophiles.”

He believes it is up to the private and public sector to make mobile technologies relevant to all. “Plan for tomorrow by casting the mind into design thinking and consider that the most simple initiate could touch the lives of many,” he says.

Hall believes the enterprise application market in SA has been slow to grow. “However, the fact that the penetration of smart devices in SA and Africa is set to skyrocket over the next couple of years and the cost of data is steadily decreasing poses hope for the market,” he states.

He believes as business gets more comfortable with the concept of enterprise mobility the number of applications will grow. “As within the market thickens, business will become inventive with the types and uses of applications.”

Says Zollner, SA is a country with a large portion of its population in periurban or rural areas. “People in these areas are often living in impoverished circumstances and do not have the same economic opportunities as those living in the major urban areas. Therefore it is imperative that SA embraces mobility and provides the infrastructure across 100% of its population.”

He believes the upliftment of the economy is fully dependent on access to the information age by all of a country’s citizens. “Mobility thus is a key aspect in transforming any developing economy to a developed economy,” Zollner concludes.