17th floor of Heron Tower is a good place from which to take a bird’s eye view of our market. Phillip Pexton of Canalys presented a great analysis of the mobility solutions market - an industry in transition - driven by three broad underlying trends, increasing enterprise mobility and growth in smart devices, transformation in the data centre and consumerization. (By this we mean Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD which we have discussed before.)
These profound changes are blasting through the orderly world of the traditional IT department, causing massive pressures. There is strain on wireless networks from the flood of new devices, the use of apps and social media are particularly difficult to control, and there are major security worries for IT teams who need to control what people are authorised to do. It’s particularly challenging in the financial world, where recording communications is a legal requirement for compliance
IT departments are facing the challenge of finding sufficient skills internally to control the situation and know what’s going on – and to manage the plethora of small “apps” that people want to use. This may mean providing software code, and supporting many operating systems and versions – and all this with heavy pressure on capital budgets.
The consequence is that IT is changing. New norms are emerging. New licencing models are appearing to match new, flexible patterns of financing. Smaller businesses are choosing new infrastructure services and software as a service (SAAS), while in larger businesses, big data and business intelligence are coming to the fore and mobililty of workers within the enterprise is key.
When people are free to work how they like, it is an enormous headache to manage.
Phillip talked about “consumer confessionals” - owning up to the IT team to admit what you are using so that IT can control and support it. We are seeing a shift from a wired Microsoft workplace to a much more complex environment which is also wireless, where Apple and Android feature. Android is fast gaining market share and analysts predict they will have 61% of the PC market by 2016, and that the tablet will be the dominant form factor by then. However, here in the City of London, people currently still prefer their Blackberries.
With the consumer so much in charge – consumer-owned devices are forcing the agenda at work, users and buyers are no longer two distinct groups.
The challenge for those in IT is to create a seamless, consistent user experience. Where there are multiple devices and networks, multiple phone numbers, disparate collaboration sessions, many presence engines, contact lists and messaging systems, the challenge is to enable these multiple devices to operate with a single corporate phone number, one collaborative session, one aggregated contact list and presence system, and one inbox. The challenge is also to make everything compliant and remain within a controlled budget.
There is an important role here for IT providers, especially those that are expert in Unified Communications and Collaboration. The wish is to create individual solutions that answer these challenges in the right way, to become a business enabler for an individual customer.