"There is no choice" when it comes to developing a mobility strategy, according to IDC Australia's research director for telecommunications, Hugh Ujhazy.
"Mobility is here," Ujhazy told the analyst group's recent Enterprise Mobility Conference. "It's part of our world, and when you start looking at some of the numbers, one of the most frightening things is 1 billion handsets.
"One billion smartphones and feature phones will be shipped in the region this year. One point six billion devices will be shipped worldwide; so the rest of the world outside of Asia Pacific excluding Japan will only get 600 million devices."
"Users, regardless of who they are — your people, your suppliers, your partners, your customers — are saying, 'I want mobile access to everything'," the analyst said.
"Everything — not just email, not just videoconferencing. But I want CRM, ERP, full supply chain access."
"It's not just the workforce who are doing service and support delivery who are being mobile; it is traditional office workers who are being liberated. And we're seeing a change in business models as a result," the analyst said.
Mobile "changes the way that I inside my enterprise work, how I function, how I address my employees, how I address my customers."
"So I have to have a mobility-centric strategy," Ujhazy said.
The discussion around enterprise mobility has moved beyond a conversation centred on devices, the analyst said.Read more: Tablet sales plunged in 2014
"It used to be all about — 'What phone do we use? What do we support? Is it Android? What version should it be?' Moving away from that to more focus on: 'How do I take advantage of this 1 billion people ... who are bringing [mobile devices] into the enterprise and who want to work with them on a daily basis?'"
Enterprises are beginning to focus more on the apps that can be run on smartphones and tablets, although "it's still early days".
Ujhazy said he is seeing a move away from just mobile device management (MDM) into "a true enterprise mobility management space".
Mobility is one of the "fundamental corner stones" of creating a "3rd platform" strategy.
The '3rd platform' is a term used by IDC to capture how cloud, data and analytics, social and mobility are changing the way enterprises are delivering services (as opposed to the '2nd platform' of client-server architectures and the '1st platform' of mainframe-driven environments).
Mobility is not just about embracing devices — whether smartphones or wearables — but about creating "an entire mobility ecosystem of cloud, analytics, secure networks and devices, across a social platform that's much more collaborative and much more open".
"It's these things that cause disruptive influences in the market," Ujhazy said.
An IDC study conducted last year found that 80 per cent of Asia Pacific-based organisations were not equipped to fully harness '3rd platform' technologies for competitive advantage. At the same time, 70 per cent of global organisations are already transforming to take advantage of the 3rd platform.
"People who are coming into this market form a global perspective are going to arrive with a mobile-first strategy ... and the local players who are not ready for that platform transition are going to have to scramble to meet that particular challenge," the analyst said "So the playing field changes."
Australian mobility priorities
Mobile security is currently a top priority among Australian organisations according to IDC research, but as technologies such as biometric security are integrated into mobile devices the level of concern is starting to ease.
"We're seeing that the level of concern with security is starting to drop off, and we're seeing a rise in the willingness to move applications into the forefront and build mobility into the overall infrastructure," Ujhazy said.
In Australia almost 60 per cent of companies are using MDM and while that's positive, "it says that 40 per cent are still thinking about it" the analyst said. MDM remains "critical" to moving forward with an enterprise mobility strategy.Read more: Analysis: Huawei takes to the open ROAD
When it comes to mobility Australian organisations have put a big emphasis on improving customer experience, through initiatives such as creating mobile-friendly websites or allowing salespeople to be able to engage customers directly without having to return to the office.
Australian organisations' biggest challenge with implementing mobile solutions is often the lack of a roadmap: "Not only from within their own organisation but from their supplier and partner ecosystem," Ujhazy said.
This is followed by security and compliance issues, challenges integrating mobile applications, the lack of a mobile strategy, and the length of time it would take to implement a mobile solution.
Key trends among Australian organisations are a growing in interest in container or sandbox-based mobile security solutions (65 per cent of respondents in an IDC survey of Australian organisations were looking at container solutions), the growth of 2-in-1 convertible PC tablets, and wearables beginning to enter the enterprise.
"The basics remain the same," Ujhazy said. "In building for this transition to this new reality of a billion new devices in the region, 10 million new devices in Australia alone this year, you've got to have a strategy, you've got to have the right people as part of your partner ecosystem, build a business case, find out what you don't know, and then assess the security risk."
"Find out what it is you want to do with this particular platform, with this opportunity of connected people, before you go into it," the analyst advised.
Key to the development of a mobile strategy is understanding who your users are: "If you know what problem you are trying to solve, who the people are, what they use, how they interact and transact their business, and how [that changes] the way that you do business and [the risks it creates], then the strategy will be self-evident."
Ujhazy's key take away was to ensure that an enterprise mobility strategy is not siloed: It should be part of a broader strategy the leverage 3rd platform technologies.
"Align your strategies to make mobility part of that ecosystem, rather than as an afterthought for just email and a little bit of collocation," the analyst said.