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Can IT Support Mobile UC in 2013?

January 02, 2013

It wasn’t until Apple announced the first multi-modal smartphone in 2007 that there was any major benefit from “unified communications” to end users sitting at their desktops or even using cell phones. With huge consumer adoption of mobile smartphones and tablets, the UC market is exploding in many ways.


Many industry forecasts are guessing about future changes in business communications technology and you might want to check the recent podcast by the experts at UC Strategies that discussed expectations for 2013. It is clear that UC-enabled mobile communications and “mobile apps” (“mCEBP”?) are at the top of everyone’s list for tablets and smartphones. However, there is a big difference in how such devices will be used, depending on who the individual end users are. In particular, it is necessary to differentiate consumer usage vs. employee ”work” usage, especially when it comes to “BYOD” concerns for security.

We really have to look at mobility activities from several perspectives including:

  • Device form factors and User Interfaces (screen size, controls),
  • Mobile Operating Systems and their role in “dual persona” usage control,
  • Multi-modal Mobile Applications,
  • Access Security and Privacy controls,
  • Costs – Who pays for what?, and
  • End user “Help Desk” (technology) support.

When it comes to choosing a mobile device, especially when it will be used for personalized contacts, there is little question that consumers will choose what they like and can afford for all their needs. That is what I have referred to as “Consumer BYOD,” and will have as great or a greater effect on any IT organization as will employee BYOD concerns, for two main reasons:

1.    All employees, by definition, are also consumers and therefore customers of other organizations.

2.    As customers, consumers are the source of revenue generation, as opposed to cost savings and productivity benefits of self-service applications and more efficient communications for organization employees.

So, since mobility has value for any end users inside and outside of any organization, the challenge is how to support and manage both mobile online business applications and mobile communication applications for anyone interacting with the organization.

New Mobility Survey of IT Perspective of BYOD

There have been all kinds of surveys done in an effort to identify where the market is going with new disruptive online and mobile technologies. It is clear that it is a cultural evolution that requires strategic planning for migrating from premise-based hardware and software to more “virtual” and hosted services in private and public “clouds.” Regardless of how various mobile applications are actually implemented, there will be an ongoing responsibility for internal organizational oversight of the management and support of applications that will be used by a variety of internal and external end users.    

A recent survey by a recently formed consortium of enterprise software companies focused on mobility, the Enterprise Device Alliance, confirms some mobile impacts and trends for internal IT organizations. These include the following:

  • 86 percent of organizations allowed BYOD in 2012 (75 percent in 2011);
  • In, 2013 the percentage of smartphone users will increase for iPhones (92 percent), Android (77 percent), Windows (44 percent) – and decrease for Blackberry (56 percent);
  • Tablets will be a principal employee mobile device (over 90 percent) that IT will support, replacing laptops;
  • E-mail is the leading productivity app for all mobile devices supported;
  • “Help Desk” support to mobile employees is given or planned to be given by 45 percent of enterprise organizations, in addition to other resources;
  • Mobile security is leading concern of IT, as 71 percent want to authenticate with Active Directory; 
  • Mobile access because of mobile OS capabilities is limited by 60 percent of respondents;
  • MDM usage in 2013 to reach 60 percent; and
  • Despite increase in mobile usage demands, IT staffing will not increase for most organizations,

Other Considerations for Mobility

There are other considerations that mobility will affect, including hosted, “cloud” applications and supporting “Consumer BYOD.” While employees will exploit tablets in using work-related mobile applications, consumers will more likely rely on smartphones of their for all their communication contacts, including voice, video, chat, and notifications/responses, as well as online self-service interactions. This will certainly change the traditional Call/Contact Center game into what I have called the “Multi-modal Interaction Center” to support mobile customers.

While “Help Desk” support has traditionally been provided internally to organization employees for their desktop needs, it is being extended to mobile employees, as reflected in the survey results. However, there is even more demand for such technology support for consumers, reflected in the “Consumerization of IT,” where consumers with mobile computerized devices need technical help in using their apps properly. It’s not just about mobile contacts with people, but mobile interactions with application software.

Such change will put more pressure on organizations to support all leading mobile and desktop devices and operating systems that the consumer public adopts, as well as providing UC-enabled self-service “mobile apps” through enterprise and service provider “app stores.”

2013 will be putting more “meat on the bones” of both enterprise and service provider mobile applications and support tools. However, as pointed out in the survey report summary, “Mobile devices have not yet saturated the enterprise, but they are pouring in.” 

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Edited by Rich Steeves

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