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What's to come for enterprise mobility in 2014? IT experts weigh in

After a year of change, what's around the corner for consumerization of IT and mobile enterprises? What the experts predict for 2014 may surprise you.

Enterprise mobility has taken many shapes and sizes in 2013, and it will continue to evolve through 2014.

This year included shake-ups and shifts at a major mobile hardware vendor, big names trying out new mobile management products, continued consolidation in the enterprise mobile management space and an influx of companies trying for a piece of the consumer-originated file-sharing and cloud storage market.

People have said they thought 2013 would be the breakout year for mobility, but it really still hasn't happened.

Eric Klein,
senior mobile analyst, VDC Research

We also saw the role of IT change as mobility proliferates, the consumer-savvy Apple Inc. acknowledge the needs of the enterprise and Microsoft take a more humble approach to enterprise mobility.

Enterprise mobility in 2014

Because of the demand for consumer devices, applications and software in the mobile enterprise, IT has slowly loosened its grip on the control of what employees can use. This has given more power to the end user than ever before.

But what about network security? How do you keep business data separate from personal data on hardware in an ever-increasing bring your own device (BYOD) landscape? How does the enterprise plan to widen its usage of applications on such devices?

We asked several mobile experts and industry vendors to share their predictions for the leading trends in consumerization and enterprise mobility in 2014. Here's what they had to say:

Maribel Lopez, enterprise mobility consultant, Lopez Research

"I think businesses are going to start really … talking about doing more things with devices. Before, it was just about email, calendar and two or three other apps. Now they're saying, 'I need to get hundreds of apps out in the coming year.' 'Hundreds' is a pretty darn big number. So how do you prioritize that, to get apps out in a meaningful way, not five or 10, but dozens or hundreds?"

She believes Mobile Backend as a service (MBaaS) will be the next big thing.

"MBaas will be the BYOD of 2014. If you're really serious about apps, you need to integrate it with your back-end system. It's another platform layer. This stuff isn't sexy, but it's necessary."

Eric Klein, senior mobile analyst, VDC Research Group Inc.

"People have said they thought 2013 would be the breakout year for mobility, but it really still hasn't happened. We haven't seen the mass adoption, especially of apps, in the market. … We're coming out of a tough economic period. IT budgets were locked down for a while, and now they're starting to open up again. … For innovation on platforms, there isn't that much further to go than lighter, faster. They can't go much further than they have on the resolution side -- I think the ruggedized space as an area for advancement for sure."

Phillip Redman, vice president of mobile solutions and strategy, Citrix Systems Inc.

"The enterprise is figuring out how to take mobile to next level. … There was a stage where the most common apps were on the app store, but they were not designed for business. Things like Evernote, GoodReader, Dropbox; these were not enterprise class. They were consumer apps to store things in and there was not really much else out there.

"User experience was a huge area; take iOS email, for example. It's great for the consumer, but to scale it for business, that's not really what it was designed for, but you have to use it. What's happened is all these companies saw adoption of more applications and want to know how they can create enterprise-class applications."

Kenji Obata, founder and CEO,

"We've seen it and we've heard it from our customers: Mobile is where virtualization was five years ago. I wouldn't say 2013 was the year where people would bring BYOD into their organization, but it's when BYOD became inevitable. It's safe to say that the consensus from CIOs in the IT crowd and in the vendor side is that BYOD and mobile access is 100% going to happen. The question is who is going to come out with the best solution for application virtualization and security management."

Benjamin Robbins, mobile analyst and principal, Palador Inc.

"You're starting to see a conversation about adaptability and flexibility. There are more and more companies providing mobile administration coming on every day. We're going to be seeing more with wearables, the 'Internet of Things,' sensors in devices, so adaptability and flexibility really ought to have a very important place. … Companies [that] aren't technical really are going to feel the pain. Companies that are adaptable and can handle the continued explosion of mobile technology are going to succeed."

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What are your predictions for enterprise mobility in 2014?
Our mobile experience will begin to shift from interacting with a piece of glass to smart objects on, in, and around us.
Web apps seem to be the way to go for Enterprises because of the diversity of devices an enterprise needs to deal with and also because of the security risks associated with downloaded software. Many developers of mobile apps, I am one of them, will tell you you can only get the functionality required by writing a system dedicated mobile app. This is true for some apps and not for others. Web apps make more sense for many busiiness processes and indeed for many domestic apps. They are backed up, any device can connect to them and upgrade paths are greatly smoothed. In the longer term it would be preferable for people to adopt web apps.
With the surge of new devices in the enterprise, led by BYOD that is now a regular part of business policy, IT leadership will give end users more control. Unified wireless and wireless networks will be deployed that include features that allow end users to perform on boarding of their new devices themselves, removing the burden on IT staff. Self-service portals/apps will be implemented so that users can register and configure sharing access for devices, such as projectors and printers, without needing to call the help desk to manually reconfigure the network. These networks will also automatically identify and adapt themselves to the applications, such as mobile Unified Communications, that will see mainstream adoption this year. By leveraging multi-vendor APIs to have visibility into the application flows on the network, it will enable the networks to deliver predictable quality of service and optimize the mobile experience in real-time regardless of whether the application is encrypted for privacy or not.

By empowering BYOD users and having the network adapt to the applications, this will enable IT organizations to run their business within limited budgets while also delivering on the promise of enhanced productivity from mobilizing today’s generation of workers.