In 2012, consumers drive enterprise communications

The consumerization of IT has proven that when it comes to offering employees the tools and resources they need to be productive, the employee—or should I say consumer—is undoubtedly in the driver’s seat.
Written by Al Subbloie, Tangoe, Inc, Contributor

Commentary - By Al Subbloie, CEO, Tangoe, Inc. Enterprise communications has evolved extensively over the last several years, from the challenges of managing the latest wave of mobile devices to the changing relationships between organizations and their telecom service providers. According to IDC, 35 percent of the global workforce will be mobile by 2013. That number implies a dramatic shift in how organizations do business, but also in how they empower their employees to work.

The consumerization of IT has proven that when it comes to offering employees the tools and resources they need to be productive, the employee—or should I say consumer—is undoubtedly in the driver’s seat. As a result, businesses are balancing a “consumerized” experience, without relinquishing control or compromising security.

Years ago, employees were handed a BlackBerry to make them more productive on the road. Today, the tables have turned and employees are bringing devices of all shapes and sizes straight to IT to be synched for both business and personal use. But let’s talk about the future. As we look ahead to a New Year, I have come up with ten predictions that are largely shaped by what we have seen in 2011 and also offer tips on how businesses can prepare for the changes on the horizon, because in 2012, the consumerization of IT won’t slow down.

1. Enterprises will identify their biggest security risk: the employee –The consumerization of IT has already dramatically changed the enterprise mobility landscape in terms of device count and diversity. What further complicates the scenario is that most of the devices will be individually liable. According to IDC, by 2014, individual-liable (IL) devices will outnumber corporate-liable (CL) devices 99 million to 62 million units, yet will still contain sensitive corporate data. Businesses will need to strategize how they can manage devices across the spectrum to prevent harmful security risks—which begins with the employee.

2. BYOD will change the relationship between finance and IT – When it comes to mobile device management (MDM), security and provisioning have always been priorities for IT, but the complexity that ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) presents also leads to an array of unnecessary (and often hidden) costs. In light of today’s mobile environment, IT is already facing pressure from finance to connect the dots between managing devices and the expenses they incur—and when all devices aren’t corporate liable, things get tricky. In 2012, IT and finance will have to work closer together to uncover the many savings opportunities that come from a comprehensive communications management strategy without losing the productivity benefits that come from a mobile workforce.

3. The corporate-liable laptop form factor will dramatically evolve – It’s obvious that the popularity of tablets is gradually making the corporate laptop obsolete (the same way the laptop replaced the desktop). Empowering employees to be mobile no doubt enhances productivity. But what will really drive the corporate laptop to extinction in 2012 will be the rise of the enterprise app store. Access to email and the mobile web are great, but today, business are upping the ante by providing employees even more of the tools necessary to be effective anywhere and anytime. Bringing the enterprise app store into the picture makes tablets and smartphones so much more of a productivity tool that soon issuing a laptop to new employees will be a thing of the past.

4. MDM and TEM will form a symbiotic relationship – Along with the added pressure of keeping communications costs in check, businesses will continue to struggle to get a handle on the explosion of mobile devices in the workplace. In 2012, it will become clear that where MDM falls short, telecom expense management (TEM) comes through—and vice versa. For example, MDM provides real-time capabilities that enhance the value of TEM, like activity notifications that control costs and keep device activities in check. TEM, on the other hand, provides analysis based on historical trending, and has access to a full set of billing data rather than an aggregation of data from the user population. This means that TEM is able to accommodate things like pooling plans, where MDM cannot. In 2012, businesses will realize that communications management must have an integrated approach.

5. Enterprise mobility will gain the human element – Explosion is an understatement when talking about the rise of mobility in the enterprise and its impact on nearly all aspects of the business. In fact, enterprise mobility is changing so quickly it’s nearly impossible to stay ahead of the game; sometimes it’s more of an art than a science. Staying on top of enterprise mobility means implementing a communications strategy that considers the future and utilizes solutions that are scalable and can account for the constant flood of new devices. IT will also need support—human support—that offers comprehensive, real-time service to enable IT to solve issues quickly, anticipate the unanticipated, and have the sense of security that only the human element can provide.

6. Enterprise interaction with communications data will shift – The interface that users have with enterprise communications management systems will begin a rapid transformation in 2012. Information presented to users and administrators will include historic, real-time, and predictive information about usage costs and device utilization. Information will be delivered to mobile users and system administrators in “intelligent” layers based on multiple criteria, such as location, business unit, user, management level, and more. Ultimately, the enterprise will have “anytime” access to communications data allowing more informed real-time decisions, lower costs, decreased data and application security risks, and a better user experience.

7. Data transport will continue to strain network capacity – Projections for mobile data usage to increase 10X by the end of 2012 will place increased demands on the network carriers. New ways of interacting with mobile communications such as Apple’s Siri, will increase network utilization and enable expanded communications and data portability. In addition, machine to machine (M2M) communications will continue to expand, placing further demands on mobile network data traffic.

8. Mobile management will go mainstream – Managing mobile costs will become more mainstream in the enterprise. While enterprises today tend to manage mobility as a unique and separate entity, 2012 will reveal a trend toward managing smart devices as an integral component of a larger enterprise-wide communications lifecycle management (CLM) approach. This will enable organizations to manage planning, acquisition, deployment, expenses, inventory, and disposal of devices from a single console—across the enterprise and around the globe.

9. Enterprise communications management will continue to expand globally – The global economy is a reality and with it, leading enterprises continue to manage global operations and the communications that make that possible. In 2012, large enterprises will continue to take a global perspective in their management of all phases of the communications lifecycle. In 2011 approximately 30 percent of large enterprises centrally manage their global communications in some form. This trend will increase in 2012 as organizations continue to consolidate costs and exert increased levels of control on their communications assets for increased profitability and security of their expanding data networks.

10. Social platform integration to the enterprise – 2012 will mark the growing acceptance of social network platforms within enterprise applications. Why? Tight integration into the application results in IT regaining control of sensitive corporate data generated from a smartphone or tablet. IT will launch new applications with a consumer UI and capabilities that deliver secure and private social networking within the enterprise environment. The effect will be improved communications with real-time decision making and interactions.

Whether my predictions will come to fruition in 2012 or beyond remains to be seen. But one thing I think we can all agree on is that when these changes come they will do so quickly, in large quantities, and when businesses least expect them. The consumerization of IT will continue to spill over into all aspects of organizations. To prepare, every department must have a plan in place and, more importantly, work together to ensure that security, liability issues, and unnecessary costs don’t slip through the cracks. Transparency and flexibility will be critical across all departments to ensure a seamless migration from a fully locked communications environment to one that can quickly adapt to the many changes to come.

Recognized as a telecommunications technology and Internet pioneer, as CEO of Tangoe, Inc., Al Subbloie has led the vision of the company to become the leading software provider in the Telecom Expense Management (TEM) space. Prior to Tangoe, Al was among the first to develop and market voice and data solutions for integrated sales, marketing, and customer service activities, founding Information Management Associates (IMA) in 1984 and guiding the company’s growth to more than $50M in sales, and 300 customers in seven offices worldwide. Al is credited with one of the patents for reverse auction theory, the leading Internet paradigm in most shopping sites today.

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