Mobile Developer Skills Gap a Growing Issue
There is a massive shortage issue and skills gaps when it comes to enterprise mobile developers. According to VDC's research, IT departments rate their mobile support capabilities lowest in comparison to other more traditional IT services. While mobile development is one of the faster growing job segments, most developers are drawn to more consumer and media oriented development work. Developing sophisticated enterprise mobile applications with stringent security and backend database integration requirements - and where more complex native development remains pervasive - has represented a less appealing career choice.
Flipboard for the Enterprise: Enterprise Mobile Applications as the Next Wave of Consumerization
As the past few years have seen a rapid influx of mobile devices into the enterprise space - led, of course, by Apple's iPhone and iPad - so too have we seen traditional consumer apps optimized to target the enterprise market, such as Dropbox, Yammer, Salesforce Desk, and Jobvite. And yet - not for lack of trying - the award-winning Flipboard app for social news aggregation has not encountered an enterprise-ready counterpart.
First launched in mid-2010, Flipboard has garnered a worldwide following, facilitating intuitive flip-through navigation of personalized social and news content. One of the more notorious Flipboard rivals targeting the enterprise is Moprise. The company's app - Coaxion - enables real-time collaboration and document access, both online and offline, via services such as SharePoint, Dropbox. Despite VC backing of over $500k and successful partnership with QuickOffice, Dropbox, SharePoint and others, the app has yet to take off in the enterprise market.
Mike McCue, co-founder of Flipboard, tweeted in May of 2012: "How do I feel about all the Flipboard clones? I'd rather be competing with 1,000 copycats than 1,000 innovators." While the incredible success of Flipboard in consumer markets hints at a similar opportunity in the enterprise market, McCue is spot-on in highlighting the vast importance of true innovation and optimization in design of a "Flipboard for the enterprise" application. The challenge will be to maintain Flipboard's end user-centric appeal and presentation while integrating corporate news, content, or collaborative elements. VDC sees a sizeable market opportunity for a Flipboard-esque enterprise app and expects continued competition and innovation over the next year as organizations look to capitalize on Flipboard's key value propositions (content aggregation, personalization, attractive UI/UX, visual appeal, consistent cross-platform experience), while optimizing the content, collaboration, and sharing features to suit enterprise requirements.
Rugged Mobile Community will Struggle with Balance as Market Segment Matures
That the rugged mobile community experienced a correction in 2012 is an understatement. With the rugged handheld and data collection focused vendor landscape undergoing massive consolidation - with Motorola Solution's acquisition of PSION and Honeywell's pending acquisition of Intermec - and other solution providers such as GD-Itronix end of lifting much of their portfolio - the outlook is increasingly uncertain. While the need for rugged solutions in a variety of end use markets is clear, the growing maturity of the opportunity coupled with the increasing commoditization, diminishing differentiation (and innovation) among vendor solutions and continued vendor fragmentation are combining to drive continued vendor and product consolidation.
An additional challenge in 2013 for this community will be influenced by their strong ties to Windows OS platforms. While several vendors have experimented with Android solutions, traction in target markets has been limited. Moreover, the forthcoming changes to Windows Embedded Handheld and noted issues with backward compatibility with legacy applications is a well documented concern as is the viability of Windows 8 (Pro) for these vendors 2013 tablet initiatives.
Where we do expect to see innovative developments and opportunities for this community moving forward will be in the shift from legacy rugged handheld to rugged smartphone solutions especially around the integration of mission critical communications capabilities - such as support for Public Safety Band 14. In addition, we anticipate greater opportunities and focus around rugged tablet solutions - in part as a displacement for existing mounted rugged notebooks but similarly in support for new applications and workflows.
New Entrants to Drive Increasing Competition in Mobile Content Management
The past few years have seen the steady trickle of mobile devices into the enterprise evolve into a widespread wave of BYOD support. And yet, while enterprise support of BYOD devices may appease employees' desire to use their personal devices in the workplace, organizations are currently inhibited from capitalizing on the considerable potential mobile devices offer to transform the enterprise. VDC's 2012 survey of enterprise IT decision-makers revealed that just over 40% of organization allow employees to use productivity apps on their personal devices. Even fewer (~28%) empower employees with access to specialized line of business applications. And yet, organizations are increasingly recognizing the limitations of these restrictive policies, which counteract the core advantages of mobilization initiatives (enhanced productivity, real time decision-making, customer loyalty, sales.)
Partnering with Oracle to deliver solutions for Oracle Universal Content Management, Fishbowl Solutions represents an early player in the mobile ECM (enterprise content management) space. Deploying the company's Android or iOS applications, organizations are able to empower workers with mobile access to the ECM system, while ensuring security of corporate data and systems. Over the next year, we will see increasing competition in this space, as established content management vendors adapt current ECM solutions to meet the unique requirements inherent to mobile environments. Emphasis will shift from device management (MDM) to more sophisticated content management through digital rights management, encryption, authentication, data loss prevention, geo-fencing, context-management, and other technologies facilitating administration of users' access, storage, and synchronization of enterprise content.