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Summary:

As employees bring their personal devices to work, corporate information technology departments have an opportunity to embrace the benefits of consumer technology in the form of lightweight and transient enterprise apps aimed at employee smartphones. This will enhance collaboration and usher the next generation workplace.

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Apple and Google’s strategy of initially launching smartphones to consumers won people over with fun, easy-to-use mobile apps and information access. But as we discuss in a new report at GigaOM Pro, the move has also generated intense demand outside the consumer sphere: in the enterprise, from information workers and executives. No longer satisfied with limited device choices and few mobile apps to help them stay in touch and be productive on the go, employees are now putting intense pressure on IT for change on both sides of the consumer coin: devices and apps.

On the device side, companies historically rejected employee requests to use personal mobile devices for accessing the corporate network, and for good reason, given the security risks involved in such a move. Things have changed over the past two years: Devices are more manageable; there’s a critical mass of them and employees are willing to pay their own way, appealing to businesses hurt by the current economic climate. As a result, the enterprise is beginning to shift in favor of co-opting employee-owned devices for work purposes. Early iPhone adopter Kraft Foods, for example, announced a “Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)” policy that opened the door to “Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC).” Today, nearly 80 percent of the Fortune 100 companies are now “deploying or piloting” the iPhone.

On the apps side, early iPhone adopters such as Genentech are a step of ahead of mainstream enterprise adopters. They’ve co-opted the frustration stemming from a vacuum of apps dedicated for work to build an enterprise app store stocked with 30 third-party, simple workflow and robust business apps. As more companies adopt policies like Genentech’s, the demand for enterprise apps will grow exponentially.

This app trend won’t be driven by a “killer app” like Facebook, but rather a long tail of multi-level apps defined as “transient” apps (think 99-cent consumer app, but for the enterprise) and persistent, lightweight, purpose-driven apps. Transient apps will form an entirely new category of enterprise apps designed to meet the needs of multi-tasking workers. Like surfers seeking to catch wave after wave, workers will use and dispose of transient apps after they have fulfilled their specific purpose.

Given these trends, there is no better time than now to consider an enterprise mobility strategy that co-opts consumerization. Dramatic improvements in control and ultra-low cost are now possible through Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) and Do-it-Yourself/self-service approaches. Now IT can scale thousands of transient and persistent lightweight apps that run on almost any corporate and Bring-Your-Own (BYO) device. This is creating an opportunity for IT to make the promise of an agile, empowering, and productive “Workplace 2.0” a reality.

Read the full report here.

Image Source: flickr user Yutaka Tsutano

  1. The smartphone is the computer! I’ve downloaded your report. Looking forward to reading it tonight.

    Assuming enterprises finally embrace smartphones, and even create a variety of apps for their employees (and partners and customers). Does the app store or Android Marketplace become a hindrance? Do the enterprises prefer their own internal ‘marketplace’ of apps, for example, and is this enough for them to shun OS-specific app stores? Will they ultimately standardize around one smartphone OS?

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