Kevin: What are some of the most surprising trends you saw in mobility in 2010?
Mike: It has to be the iPad. Tablets have been around forever! All of a sudden Apple makes one with the great interface and everyone wants it? I have one but am personally frustrated with some of the limitations of the current iPad, but you can’t deny that it has been a big success and I’ll definitely buy the next version. I also love the new Samsung Galaxy, it fits into my jacket pocket. Overall though, I would rather use my NetBook. It has a keyboard, long battery life, prints and boots up fast without the tablet limitations.
Kevin: What are some of the biggest challenges you see in mobility today?
Mike: Simple connectivity is still a big challenge in the UK. We couldn’t get connectivity in our own office today. Every day when I drive home from the office I lose connectivity in three different locations. This is the middle of the UK! There are so many places where signals are just not good enough to support a mobile worker using an always connected mobile application. We have developed all kinds of features into Afaria just to help mobile workers in areas where there is intermittent connectivity.
Kevin: How are enterprise mobility implementations different from other typical IT projects?
Mike: IT folks have a difficult time truly understanding mobility. Many don’t even understand the differences between the mobile operating systems and mobile devices. It is a whole new world for them.
Kevin: What do companies fail to plan for when implementing mobility?
Mike: They fail to plan for the actual voice/data plan communication costs. Even my own employer (Sybase) is unhappy with my latest phone bill. I have been traveling a lot and had a $500 phone bill that I submitted. Management did not like it. Roaming charges when traveling overseas is a huge problem. The cost can jump in one month when traveling.
Kevin: What advice do you have for companies just starting down an enterprise mobility path?
Mike: They should read the top 10 tips for implementing enterprise mobility from Sybase. Also, I think people should be visionary. The company should not just implement the minimum but should be visionary. Companies can change or improve entire business models with mobile solutions.
Kevin: How important is mobile device management and security?
Mike: It is a critical component of every deployment. Even if half of the concerns prove to be unfounded, the other half are real. You need to keep people working in the field. You need to avoid work stoppages. You need to protect your company, and keep it working. This takes mobile device management.
Kevin: What should people know about your company and products?
Mike: Companies should call us (SAP or Sybase) as soon as they start thinking about mobility. We have all kinds of tools and useful advice. We can help companies think through each of the important issues around enterprise mobility. We have a huge library of good tools, deployment references and helpful collateral for companies.
Kevin: Where do you see mobility going in 2011?
Mike: Bigger companies will support mobile devices for all of their staff. Today they pick and choose who gets mobile support. Also SMEs (small to medium-sized enterprises) are going to embrace mobility. They will see huge benefits. The SME movement will be one of the biggest.
I want to thank Mike for sharing his experiences, insight and predictions!
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Kevin Benedict, Independent Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst, SAP Mentor Volunteer
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Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility analyst, consultant and blogger. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.