Costis Papadimitrakopoulos, CEO at Globo, examines how the mobile landscape has changed over the last 10 years, the challenges that this has created for mobile device management and the opportunities that lie therein for the channel.
If you looked in most offices 10 years ago, you'd see dozens of people clutching the same, identical, grey 'business' handsets that had been distributed to all members of staff, regardless of job function or needs.
Just like email, the business smartphone was expected to revolutionise the way that firms communicated, making it possible for employees to work on the go, thereby boosting productivity.
Despite their clunky operating systems and poor battery life, the business smartphones of the mid 2000s did make it easier for employees to stay in touch whilst out of the office, but it was mostly via voice and not data services.
With 'poor' mobile broadband network coverage initially many devices were unable to access the internet over 3G, surfing the web or performing other tasks like sending an email could be a lengthy process.
Move forward a few years, and with advances in technology and the growth of convergence, things started to change very quickly, as did the face of business for the UK.
Thanks to the arrival of smartphones, along with the evolution of mobile networks, mobile users were presented with a wider range of mobile devices than ever before.
However, many companies continued to stick with 'business' handsets offering access to a limited range of business applications, citing concerns about how 'consumer oriented' products and services might impact security and productivity and how difficult it would be to manage a multitude of different handsets across an organisation.
Even today this is an issue that businesses are finding tricky to overcome, with many businesses still only choosing to deploy corporate email on employee handsets. Just look at the results of a recent survey of IT professionals by Cisco, in which 45 per cent of the people polled said that they are struggling to implement mobile workforce systems.
With Forrester predicting that by 2015 there will be 649 million mobile workers globally, compared to 375 million in 2010, this presents a golden opportunity for resellers to generate revenue by consulting firms on their business mobile strategy.
With new technology now available that allows companies to securely deploy and manage a whole host of different handsets, not to mention centrally deploy and manage business applications down to a user level, there's no need for companies to stick with a single phone manufacturer. Instead they can select devices for employees based on their role and what they will use the phone for when out of the office, thereby boosting productivity.
Most enterprises understand that mobility can bring enormous advantages and cost savings, yet many are uncertain of how to realise these benefits fully.
The time has come for enterprises to adopt mobility strategies: to standardise, support, plan for and deploy mobile solutions throughout their organisations in ways that control costs and directly support business objectives.
With the ongoing convergence of fixed and mobile technologies, and with the advent of mobile broadband capabilities, the potential for mobility to become an integrated and coherent enterprise tool has never been greater.
This was first published in September 2011