Enterprise, Web 2.0 and Mobility

This article is the fourth part of a series of four articles covering the impact of Web 2.0 on the Enterprise space. It covers the interplay between Web 2.0, Enterprise and Mobility

The other parts are (The parts can be read independently)

Enterprise 2.0 ROI: Collaborative research and mobility Part One

The ROI for Enterprise 2.0: Part Two: User contributions to Enterprise 2.0 – Doing a Robert Scoble

ROI for enterprise 2.0: Part Three : Collaborative research in new product design

Traditionally, the Mobile Enterprise market has been the domain of the Blackberry . The Blackberry has always been focused on email – which seems to be fine for most people. Consequently, on first glance, it appears that not much is happening when it comes to Enterprise and Mobile devices. Indeed, much of the focus of the Mobile data industry itself is geared to the consumer market – further reinforcing that perception

But perceptions can be deceptive because there are significant moves being made both by the Web/Enterprise players to enter mobile space and the mobile players to enter the Enterprise markets.

For instance ..

a) The launch of the Mosh network from Nokia

b) Google’s acquisition of Postini

c) Nokia’s acquisition of Intellisync

d) Motorola’s acquisition of Good technology

e) SoonR – which has always been in the desktop access market from mobile devices

f) Nokia’s E series devices targeting the Enterprise

Why is this happening? And why now?

Historically, Enterprise software can be classed into:

a) Bespoke (for instance banking software)

b) ERP (Enterprise resource planning) – for example SAP and Oracle (My alma mater! – since I used to work for PeopleSoft)

c) Desktop software (for instance Microsoft Word)

d) Conversational / Collaboration software(example email)

A more interesting definition comes from JP Rangaswamy

.. where he classifies activity into Syndication. Search. Conversation and Fulfilment and says

>>>

Well, in most service industries, people appear to “work” by doing four things:

They look proactively for information. They search for things.

They receive information because they said they were interested in receiving that information. They subscribe to things.

They talk to each other using various forms of communication: letter, e-mail, audio, video, text, IM, blog, wiki, twitter, whatever. They are even known occasionally to talk to each other face to face without use of technology.

And they transact business as a result. Within the enterprise. In the extended enterprise and partners and supply chain. With customers.

<<<<

With this definition, the central theme underpinning the intersection of the Web, Mobility and the Enterprise appears to be the need for collaboration through smaller/more granular transactions which require greater synchronization within and across enterprises

We saw the ‘why’ but – How is this happening?

The implementation

The ‘how’ (implementation) of Mobility and Web 2.0 within the Enterprise is based on three key ideas:

a) The usage of the social network as a Meta layer above both the Web and the Mobile domains. The social network becomes the interface between various departments and also across enterprises

b) The rise of Cloud computing

c) The unified profile/address book

Let us first look at Cloud computing ..

I have covered cloud computing many times before in this blog – and indeed Eric Schmidt includes cloud computing in his definition of Web 3.0 when he says that

>>>

Web 3.0 will be “applications that are pieced together” – with the characteristics that the apps are relatively small, the data is in the cloud, the apps can run on any device (PC or mobile), the apps are very fast and very customizable, and are distributed virally (social networks, email, etc).

<<<

Google’s G drive and Microsoft’s skydrive are efforts in that direction.

The key here, when it comes to mobility is: Once the data is ‘in the cloud – it can be accessed on any device’.

Indeed that’s the significance of Mobile Ajax – which many people miss completely – because Mobile Ajax (with cloud computing) is a powerful combination (Mobile Ajax is more than a pretty face )

The other two ideas (Social network and unified address book/profile) can be illustrated by the launch of Nokia’s Mosh network

Mosh from Nokia is a social network which spans across the desktop and the mobile device. It enables you to upload audio, videos, documents, images, games and applications to your profile. For every object you are interested in (for instance the audio, video, documents etc), you can share, collect (tag) or download. Thus, Mosh creates a social network (spanning the desktop and Mobile device).

Thus, the social network could be the first point of contact – and a social network spans the Web and the Mobile domains.

All this is possible only if is trusted!

Do we trust Google with it’s cloud? Let me put it to you this way .. My email now resides on gmail(including my Futuretext email which can be aliased from gmail ..) but YET .. the gmail logo still shows ‘BETA’!!

Do we care? No. We think gmail will be around ..

For the same reason, I would trust Nokia ..(Mosh)

Contrast this with one more social network launched last week .. from a familiar name .. Plaxo.

Yes, everyone is getting into the act of creating a social network, including the dreaded Plaxo

However, do we trust Plaxo? Most people(including me) will not touch Plaxo at all .. based on painful memories of spamming the address book when it first launched ..

So, to conclude ..

a) Unlike the efforts of Nokia, Google and to an extent Motorola, the incumbent(RIM/Blackberry) seems to be very focussed on email only – which may be a mistake especially because devices like the Nokia E series could easily go for this market.

b) The profile(and consequently the unified address book) are the holy grail of Enterprise software. From the profile/address book, an entire social network could be built – as the Nokia/Mosh service is looking to do.

c) It is a mistake to look at Enterprise Mobility without taking into account the larger picture – for instance the ideas behind Cloud computing

d) The companies which will define this space will be the ones who understand the Web and the Mobile domains and who can be trusted .. and that may mean at the moment it’s a three horse race between Nokia, Google and Microsoft

e) Trust will be a key factor as social networks take on the role of ‘interfaces’ within and across Enterprises.

f) Finally, to recap: The central theme underpinning the intersection of the Web, Mobility and the Enterprise appears to be the need for collaboration through smaller/more granular transactions which require greater synchronization within and across enterprises

This concludes the four part series. I may add more articles later extending some of the ideas here. As usual, comments welcome.

Comments

  1. Movero Technology says:

    You’re right there are a lot of significant moves being made in the enterprise markets toward enterprise mobility. Devices, applications and networks are being deployed all the time, but as organizations deploy a mobile workforce they are finding that managing the process is complicated. Movero Technology a provider of managed IT services focused exclusively on mobility simplifies the acquisition, deployment and the ongoing management of cellular voice and data access allowing ubiquitous enterprise mobility throughout the organization. Movero Technology

  2. Manish says:

    Hi Ajit,
    Really appreciate your thoughts on interplay between Enterprise, Web 2.0 and mobility.
    Have a small concern.
    I have been following RIM/Blackberry and Windows Mobile platforms for quite some time (3 years now).
    Blackberry is great for emails. This is public knowledge; also recognized in your post. However its not limited to just emails. It has a complete framework for getting any sort of enterprise application on to the device. Be it device management, provisioning, bringing enterprise apps on device, everything is possible. Believe me, its much simpler than on any other platform.
    Microsoft is trying hard to match the capability but has some ground to cover. Connectivity to Intranets, security, device management, etc are all difficult if not impossible. Only in late H1Q08 is MS targetting to come out with System Center for managing devices and giving connectivity solutions coming closer to RIM has been giving for years. It will be interesting to see the market post that.
    I agree, that everywhere people have the myth that Blackberry is good for emails only. Reality is, you concieve a need. Implementing it with Blackberry is going to be much easier on the RIM platform compared to any other. For other platforms u’ll need third party middlewares like iAnywhere, Intellisync etc. But with Blackberry, the building blocks are in place. Its a ground up thought out platform. Its a complete Enterprise Mobility solution.