Mobile release cycles keep IT on its toes

Organizations will be left in the dust if IT doesn’t keep up with the pace of mobile change.

ORLANDO – The speed of change in the consumerization of IT adds to the growing list of enterprise mobility challenges, and it's only going to move faster.

IT pros can keep pace by not only listening to what end users want, but by allowing them to take mobile projects out for a test drive, according to analysts at this week’s Gartner Digital Workplace Summit here.

There also needs to be an adjustment in the way IT manages product releases as the cadence of mobile release cycles speeds up. Major mobile operating systems are expected to go from 10 months to six months between releases, while mobile devices will accelerate from 10 months to eight months, according to Gartner Inc. Application updates will be cut in half from four to two months, the Stamford, Conn.-based analysis firm predicts.

IT may want to slow the update cycles down and take control back from end users, but that’s not a great route to go down, Gartner analysts said.  

“It’s a losing battle if this is the only way you’re seeing consumerization,” said Brian Prentice, research vice president at Gartner.

Organizations may view the consumerization of IT as an issue of cost and risk management, but it’s also an opportunity to provide “learnable techniques” around new efficiencies and innovations, Prentice said.

IT may strive for stability, but stability around mobile is overrated given the rate of change, said Van L. Baker, research vice president at Gartner.

In fact, a good strategy could be to let a technologically savvy workforce experiment with mobile tools that get the job done.

“You can leverage their understanding and use of technology to bring innovation into the organization, instead of being the organization that says, ‘no, you can’t use this,’” Baker said.

One large insurance company based in Europe wants to break down the barriers between its desktop deployment and its mobile user base. A big part of that is bringing applications into the mobile era.

“We have a lot of apps that use late-2000's adaptations,” said the company’s head of IT workplace, who attended the conference and requested anonymity. “There needs to be a re-thinking of how you write applications that fit onto several form factors.”

IT should strive to give users mobile experiences similar to what they enjoy as consumers.

“If you give [users] an app that takes 15 minutes to complete a task on a smartphone, their perceptions of what mobile can do for them is going to run counter to that,” Baker said.

The European insurance company’s head of IT workplace hopes to see mobile apps developed around user needs, and added that Gartner's message reinforced many of his own feelings on mobility.

"You have to identify what they really need and link that strategically from an IT to a business context," he said. "You have to look at it as a holistic-value change and it takes much more than just an intuitive end user design."

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