Leaders in Enterprise Mobility: Bob Egan of Sepharim Group on Top Trends
"Well first of all, thanks for having me here. In terms of my overall career, I spent the early days of my career as a rank and file engineer, eventually becoming a Chief Technology Officer for Advanced Networking Products at DEC. And I worked on a lot of the early high-speed routers and bridges, and eventually, the dawn of Wi-Fi. And Wi-Fi was one of the pioneering members of the original 802.11 standards work, and it's an area where I continue to keep lots of interest in. After a lot of the years spent on the product side, I moved over into the industry research side at a company called Gartner Group and was one of the founding members of their mobility practice, primarily focusing on enterprise mobility."
"In the early days, it wasn't an area that so many people were excited about. But it was an area that I had thought was very intriguing very early in some of the areas like manufacturing and transportation, but knew that the power of computing and other things around technology enablement were going to grow this into a very fascinating and exciting market that we now witness. And so over the years since my days at DEC and at Gartner, I have vacillated between working at product companies and also as an industry analyst."
"So I think I'm one of these C-level executive advisers who brings to the party both the business expertise and the technical expertise to help companies invest in mobile with very sound underlying strategies that create wealth on behalf of those organizations--whether you're a supplier of products, or whether you're an enterprise company that's consuming products on behalf of your employees, or your B2C customers out there who, increasingly, are gravitating towards mobile services and products. You know, what really excites me about mobility is that it has had a complete shift in terms of how people live, how they work, and how they play. In the early days of this market, which I still think we're in--the analogy that I like to draw to a lot of people is along the lines of making a comparison to the evolution of mankind. If you think about mankind--we started walking on all fours. We discovered fire, and ability to communicate, and languages, and so on and so forth. And over time we became fully erect and walked on two feet. When you think about the state of mobility, what do you visualize? You visualize a lot of people sort of half bent over, looking into their tablets and looking into their phones. So we're not fully upright yet in the area of mobility. And I think that's the first thing that makes it exciting."
"There's a lot of opportunity and there's a lot of growth, whether you're consumer, whether you're in the retail space, or whether you're an enterprise company that is building services and products, and providing enablement with your employees to use mobility to drive revenue, and increase productivity and efficiency throughout your organization. So I think that's the first thing that really excites me, is all of the opportunity. The second thing is that, as we're building this whole generation and behavioral change associated with mobility, it provides lots of opportunities to watch society change in a very good way. And while the internet may have opened up lots of opportunities and broadened--both for adults, but especially for younger generations-- the ability not to live so locally, but to actually broaden their horizons on a worldwide basis. The internet was interesting, because it opened the doors 24 by 7."
"But now with mobility, what we're doing is we're opening up those communication and collaboration channels into the hands of our worldwide population, wherever they are, whenever they want to have that kind of access, and to whomever they want to have those kind of interactions with. So that's very, very exciting. When I think about the business propositions associated with mobility, I think about things that can help retailers accelerate how they sell, who they sell to, increase things like same-store sales or same-portal sales. When I think about financial services--increasing the velocity of payments throughout the payment systems in digital form, and decreasing the cost of delivery associated with that. With all the technology enablement that comes with this, I think our ability to reduce fraud is also very exciting. When I think about employees working in organizations where people sit down and have a review, we talk still--very much in sort of old-time terms--around, what did they get done? What kind of project did they produce? What did they do on behalf of their customers? But the fundamental metric that's really taken hold over the last 10 or 15 years really comes down to, what enablement did the company provide to an employee to actually get those kinds of things done? And it's about a connected world. And for those companies who govern the connectivity or constrain the connectivity on the behalf of their employees, they're really putting their employees at a disadvantage to be top performers in those organizations, especially when you think about those employees who are top performers or they're very customer-facing--their ability to make decisions, their ability to be responsive to customers' needs--not just on the sales cycle, but also post-sales and customer support--being able to collaborate with their peers. These are all things that connectivity, and in particular mobile connectivity, enables employees to be a lot more responsive to the ecosystem that they have to work within in order to be valued citizens within those organizations."
"So I think mobile for consumers brings many, many new avenues of value, of responsivity, of influence, of loyalty, and-- when you think within a large enterprise or even a small enterprise--the ability for employees to be a lot more productive. They have a better style of life between what they want to do to live, what they want to do the play, and what they need to do for work--can more easily be accomplished with the right set of mobile services, and devices, and the applications that help them do a better job for their company. So I think about the challenges associated with the enterprise mobility market, in particular. I think there's been an over-focus on devices. We set a lot of new shiny devices out there. They come in all forms, and shapes, and sizes from dumb phones to smartphones to phablets, to tablets of many different sizes. And we see a war among the operating systems. We see a war around the ecosystems. But the first response, really, has been some draconian measures on behalf of IT. We have to take very tactical responses. And that really has been very, very device focused. And I think there's a lack of understanding from a strategy side that, first and foremost, devices are always going to be hostile. And the evolution of these devices--even though we think that they feel pretty mature--are rather immature. And so we're seeing accelerating the release cycles in terms of applications and operating systems, in hardware itself. And so I think at this tactical response has been an interesting response. I think it's made a lot of companies pretty wealthy."
"It certainly gave birth to a lot of new companies--in particular, in the MDM space. But I think we're beginning to see lots of organizations who have made those tactical responses look at this and think, from an infrastructure and holistic strategy standpoint, as MDM as a tool set is infrastructurely and strategically misfit within their organizations. And so I think one of the big challenges, as we go into 2014, is many more CIOs, line of business folks, and even chief marketing officers are getting more strategic with their decisions. And I think they're really trying to understand what are the external and internal influences on their business. And then, I think--once they have them down and they understand it--taking a look at what the current state of mobility is within their organization, within their competitor circles, and beginning to map their desired intents and investment thesis, in terms of mobility. And what are their strategic responses-- what are the things they really need to do to make that happen? And I think, third, is the recognition that then you need to arm yourself with the kind of technology that will help you deliver on what you need to do against the business drivers and business objectives of the company."
"Those are very big challenges. And they're about innovation. They're about driving revenue. They're about bringing new efficiencies and cost. And when you put that all together, my advice to a lot of organizations is to really understand three things. First, bandwidth is going to get bigger and bigger, and faster and faster. We saw 3G, we saw 4G, we will see 5G and 6G. So the idea of wireless bandwidth-- whether it's Wi-Fi enabled or whether it's wide-area enable--is only going to get better over time. And this is a trend that's not going to go away and that they should bet on. The second thing is this huge paradigm shift, where we went from mainframe, centralized, and decentralized computing to client-server, and now, the move to cloud. Now, I can't pick the winners or losers in the cloud space, but I can certainly say that cloud is here, it's going to get bigger, and we'll see many different iterations around what cloud is going to look like-- between public, and private, and hybrid, and maybe even some other iterations we haven't thought about yet. So the first trend was about bigger bandwidth and more available bandwidth. The second is about this move from client-server computing to cloud computing. And I think the third has a lot to do with the notions of social engagement, whatever that means. A lot of us, social engagement means Twitter and Facebook--and certainly they're dominant entities in this space. I'm not saying that those two entities in particular will be dominant in the future. But the idea that this industry has been moving, and continues to move, toward social networking, and social collaboration, and social influence and loyalty is something that's here to stay, and it's another big trend."
"So more bandwidth, the shift to cloud computing, and the shift to social networking collaborating are three really big trends that all organizations need to be mindful of. They need to plan strategically against the intersection and those big trends and how they affect their organizations--both internally and externally, and the competitive environment--and [? bet ?], from a business objective, a strategic response and arm themselves with the technology to take advantage and grow their market share because of those three big trends. All other noise away, those are the things to count on. We could talk about big data. We could talk about business analytics or predictive analytics. Those are byproducts of those three really big trends. In 2014, I think the most important things to recognize, or the shifts that I see that are going to take place in the enterprise mobility market, is people moving from tool-based boutique solutions to now beginning to think more strategically into architectural solutions. And those are going to hit the security area, the compliance and risk management areas. But also, and most importantly, we talk a lot about user interface and user experience, and most of that focus has to do with the app and what that app looks like. And I encourage a lot of organizations, and I think a lot of organizations are beginning to come to the realization, that the app is, sort of, the front door. And they really have to think beyond the app. They have to think about the agility of the rest of the infrastructure that they have been investing in for 30 or 40 years. They need to think about how they modernize it, how they leverage the agility for multichannel delivery and multi-screen delivery. And this is going to create a whole new set of observations and, I think, buying patterns that are going to take place as people begin to layer in mobility as a structural component within their infrastructure, rather than a one-off or a rogue that sort of sits as a branch off of the rest of the infrastructure."
"And that, I think, becomes key, because we've talked a lot about building once, and writing and using in many different areas-- and more often than not, when we talk about that, once again, we're coming back to applications and application design. But we also have to start thinking about building infrastructure, and how do we build infrastructure and deliver in many different avenues that address the experience that a particular user, and a particular demographic within that user, wants to have. What channel they want to come in through-- so they may start something in a big screen channel, like a desktop or even a Smart TV, but maybe they want to continue that experience on a tablet or a smartphone. And so that's about building infrastructure and laying in infrastructure that is able to compensate and adjust to the various security requirements, the latency and speed requirements, and the user experience."
"Because at the end of the day, we talk a lot about bring your own device. Bring your own device to shop somewhere, bring your own device to work as an employee. What we're really trying to design is bring your own experience. And organizations really need to start designing the, how do I deliver that experience out to a consumer or out to an employee to help them get things done, because that's what this market really is all about. And so we're going to see this eventual migration from very boutique one-off solutions, like MDM, to a bigger solution set that's really more of a mobile-oriented architecture, if you will, where people are laying these into their infrastructure and they're designing an end-to-end end user experience that benefits the constituency--whether that's an employee or a consumer. And I think the three things that really are the driving forces behind this are, in fact, high available wireless bandwidth, faster, bigger, more capable devices."
"I think, in a technology standpoint, it also includes cloud. And then, the other areas like social networking, collaboration, business intelligence, and all the other byproducts of those things, I think, also weigh in and put increased pressures on organizations to build a more agile infrastructure. And when we talked about mobile [? first, ?] it's really about multi-channel agnostic in trying to deliver against the ubiquitious great experience that consumers and employees alike are really demanding."