How to make 'mobile first' an enterprise computing reality

Mobile computing bloggers share their tips for embracing a mobile-first approach and measuring the ROI of smartphones and tablets in the enterprise.

When it comes to technology in the workplace, how are end users like children?

"They get upset if they don't understand it, and you cannot force them to do something they don't want to do," says enterprise mobility blogger Melanie Seekins.

Understanding the nature of users is one step organizations must take to embrace a mobile-first approach to technology, as laid out in Seekins' latest post, "Mobile first: What is it, how do we get there?"

Seekins, a mobility architect at a financial services firm, defines mobile first as the idea that "users would rather pick up [a] phone or tablet instead of a laptop." But to accommodate that notion, an organization needs to answer several questions around usability, policy, security and, of course, cost.

Mobile first and other adoption trends were hot topics in the blogosphere over the past month. Check out what others had to say:

How not to measure mobile ROI

If you successfully address the concerns around usability, policy and security, you're off to a good start in terms of realizing a return on your mobility investment. But how do you know for sure?

Using adoption to measure return on investment (ROI) isn't a good idea, according to Benjamin Robbins, principal at mobile consulting firm Palador. In his new blog post, Robbins argues that ROI is more difficult to measure with mobile technology, and that just because users are doing work on smartphones and tablets, it doesn't mean they're contributing any more to the bottom line.

"A lot of people performing a particular action is not the same as the right people performing the right action," he writes. "Technology has to advance the underlying business objective. No amount of adoption will overcome misdirection."

What's Android's real problem?

More on mobile-first enterprise computing

Mobile first driving SMB business processes

Questioning the mobile-first mentality

Operating system choice also factors into the success of a mobility initiative, and Android has suffered from the perception that it's not secure enough for the enterprise. Eric Klein, senior analyst at VDC Research, says fragmentation -- not security -- is Android's real problem.

"The good news is that many of the exploits are limited to older versions of the operating system," Klein writes. "The bad news is that more than 50% of the Android devices in use are on versions prior to v4.0. … This platform fragmentation will persist as a problem, as handset OEMs continue to sell pre-v4.0 devices."

Security improvements in the most recent version, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, include address space layout randomization and data execution prevention. Some device manufacturers also add their own security features, such as those in the Samsung for Enterprise program.

This was last published in July 2013

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Do you think mobile first is the way of the future?
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Only on the consumer end of things. I don't expect serious businesses to ever shrink below tablets for most of their workforce, and even then, many will still be using larger machines. In the end, it all comes down to interface - there are some things you just can't do on smaller devices. Besides, it's easier to lose track of smaller machines... if something's truly critical to my business, I want it large enough to find.
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I think at the consumer level for apps and interactions, yes, mobile first makes a lot of sense, but for anything super data intensive and something I need to interact with regularly, my laptop is still the primary interface, and I'd prefer it be able to handle the ability to interact with me directly and quickly. Mobile isn't there just yet.
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Mobile isn't quite there yet. Yet. It's worth remember that the first TV remotes ran a long, thick cord to the TV. Now I talk to my remote and it hasn't made a mistake yet. Will mobile control the enterprise? About ten thousand kinks to work out first, but there's no doubt it'll get there.
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I have to agree with the other comments, and not quite yet. However, I think Google’s proposed joining of ChromeOS and Android in the near future may overcome (or set the groundwork needed to overcome) some of the problems associated with mobile first.
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Google isn't the only one blurring the lines between desktop and mobile computing. Windows 10 is the same OS on PCs and tablets, and the iPad Pro is very Mac-like in a lot of ways.
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Mobile is the wave of the future
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Not a one-size-fits-all solution, but its here to stay.
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