IT’s New Challenge: Mobile Market

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IT’s integration labors just never end, do they?

No sooner does IT catch a breath from integrating all those SaaS apps and the drive toward Big Data than a new challenge comes along: integrating the mobile market.

IDC recently wrote a piece calling the mobile market “the new normal.” But here’s the funny thing about this new normal: The research firm looked at European enterprises, talking to more than 400 CIOs, IT managers and business decision makers and found 48 percent of those surveyed don’t have a strategy for it.

There are actually two major data and integration challenges with mobile devices that IT will need to address.

The first is obvious, and it’s the most talked about issue: the mobile work force. That’s nothing new. I wrote about that for TechRepublic back in 2001, when the hot mobile devices were laptops, Palms and BlackBerrys.

What’s new here is the volume, not just in terms of the types of devices, but how many there are and how many different people have them. Mobile strategy used to be about executives and, if you were really cutting edge, a few salespeople.

But that’s changing. Recent research by Google found that in six countries, more than 50 percent of the population owned smartphones. In seven additional countries — including the U.S. — more than 40 percent of the population owns smartphones.

And I’m not going to even look up the statistics on laptop use. Suffice it to say, if my mom is even using a laptop (all 12 pounds of it!), laptop adoption has to be hovering near ubiquitous.

So, IT will have to find a way to support data for more workers and more mobile devices, and that means CIOs will also have to look at supporting adoption for a wider variety of applications, too.

That’s not going to be easy, since even the vendors seem to have been caught unawares on this trend.

Julie Craig, who writes about application management for data management consulting and services firm EMA, pointed this out in a recent post.

“Management of mobile endpoints — phones or tablets — is a weak link for most Application Management products, with vendors just starting to provide instrumentation for mobile endpoints,” Craig stated.

Craig sees major problems ahead when it comes to application management and four major technology trends: mobile, Big Data, cloud and integration.

“From an Application Management perspective, you have to scratch your head and ask yourself how companies are monitoring and managing these complex interactions,” she writes. “And from my conversations with end users, I can tell you that most are doing it at a very superficial level.”

What she sees happening right now is a “manual triage” approach that is just not going to cut it.

“Companies attempting to manage complex use cases in this way will likely experience an escalation in the number of ‘undiagnosed problems’ that are never solved, and which repeat at intermittent intervals,” she adds.

As I mentioned earlier, that’s just one part of the data and integration problem IT faces as companies move toward a mobile strategy. In my next post, I’ll talk about the second piece: the mobile customer.