By Hyoun Park
Enterprise Mobility has transformed quickly in the past few years. Five years ago, enterprise mobility was a large enterprise need that was largely driven by BlackBerry devices and primarily used to support remote workers who were fully detached from the office, such as field service and remote sales personnel. Although these cases still exist, the emergence of iOS, Android and other new mobility platforms has provided the business with new value propositions as mobility has become a business enhancer throughout line-of-business departments.
In addition, companies have increasingly allowed handsets that are not directly purchased from the enterprise to gain access to business-based network and applications. In the October 2010 report Controlling Wireless Expenses,” Aberdeen Group found that 72 percent of organizations had at least one individual-liable handset being used for business purposes. On average, 23 percent of these companies devices were owned by the employee. Although there are management challenges associated with the bring your own device” approach, it has led to quick growth in the use of mobility throughout the business environment.
To understand how companies have sought to take advantage of this new proliferation of handsets, mobile applications and connectivity, Aberdeen studied more than 400 organizations in 2011 for the research brief Enterprise Mobility Management Goes Global: Mobility Becomes Core IT.” One key pressure loomed above all others: the demand to provide productivity gains associated with mobility to the entire organization. Fifty-five percent of respondents identified this as a key global pressure whereas 37 percent referenced the need to deploy mobility so that they could become more operationally efficient as a whole and 26 percent were struggling to harness the increasing capabilities and complexities of new mobile devices.
To provide productivity gains and improve operational efficiencies, these companies should seek to connect all mobile devices used in a business context with an enterprise-wide application. Companies typically are connected through one of three ways: email, phone system and enterprise applications (e.g., ERP, CRM or social software). Email access often is provided with network access while enterprise applications access can be given through Web-based or VPN access if a mobile license is purchased.
But are companies connecting their mobility and phone system for employees who are voice-centric in their collaboration and work practices? Why not connect these devices to the one system that has traditionally connected all employees? These end-user organizations already may have made separate investments in wireless LAN, PBX and mobile handsets, but may not have pursued a solution that combines all three of these infrastructure components to reduce costs: fixed mobile convergence (FMC).
In data collected for the July 2011 report Conquering the Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt of Managing Integrated Communications,” Aberdeen found that only 24 percent of companies had implemented FMC, but 41 percent planned to do so. This planned adoption rate placed FMC as second only to business process management capabilities as technologies that companies sought from a unified communications perspective. This proposed rate was also higher than the percentage planning to implement technologies, such as video conferencing (21 percent) and social media (34 percent), which often get more attention in more qualitative and consumer-based media. Businesses strong intentions to adopt show that while FMC may have been slow to arrive in the business environment, it finally has gained mindshare among IT buyers seeking its benefits.
From a channel and agent perspective, these top pressures and emerging trends represent an opportunity to allow companies to gain additional value from their existing technology investments. The importance of FMC in the enterprise is that it provides enterprise phone features, such as corporate directories and on-net dialing, to the mobile device, which both improves productivity and reduces costs. Companies that have dealt with the challenges of international roaming, especially the unexpected costs that can range up to $5,000 or more for a single device in one month, should readily understand the value of potentially shifting these types of costs from mobility to the more traditional cost structure of the fixed or hosted PBX.
Based on current trends for enterprise mobility adoption and the top trends associated with mobility, there is currently an untapped demand for FMC that was not previously in place. This combination of bring your own device” demands for mobility-based productivity and the increasingly understood value proposition of FMC has led to an environment where this technology can finally both be understood and purchased by end-user organizations. After years of primary education and a shift in businesses use of mobility, FMC is finally able to provide the channel with the opportunity that has been promised for years.
Hyoun Park is lead analyst in collaboration and integrated communications for
. Over the past four years, Park has surveyed the best practices of more than 2,500 organizations seeking to optimize their collaborative environments. Prior to Aberdeen, Park managed telecom environments at Bose Corp. and Teradyne and was responsible for billing and training operations at multiple CLEC organizations.