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Enterprise Mobility, Legos and Mobile Trends in 2013

The components of a mobile solution are becoming commoditized

I have a world class collection of Legos. With the exception of a few pieces lost to predatory vacuum cleaners, I have preserved them in a large Rubbermaid container throughout the years as our children have grown.  Legos are very simple.  They are blocks of varying size that all fit together in a standardized manner. So as long as you don't mix non-standard pieces in with the standard, they all fit together with ease. As simple as these blocks are, however, masterpieces can be made with them. It is not the pieces that are interesting, it is the objects you can design with them. I view mobile solutions in much the same way.

I believe 2013 will be the year of mobile strategy and design.  The components necessary for implementing enterprise mobility solutions are all in place.  Answering the questions of what to do with these components, optimizing ROIs and designing the best solutions that will offer the most competitive advantages should be the primary focuses.

I have noted with interest an emerging mobile industry trend. Many of the large mobility vendors are changing their focus and strategy from building their own mobile application development tools to utilizing third-party app development tools that are already widely used and accepted. Mobility vendors are turning their attentions to building more robust platforms that can support a wide range of developer tools. This is a significant industry trend.  It will impact the business models of mobility vendors. It will be interesting to watch this play out.

When I was the CEO of a mobile application company, we were always looking to add as much value as possible into the developer tools we built so we could entice customers to standardize on our proprietary development environment. That enabled us to lock-in our customers and have more dependable long-term license revenue. Those times seem to be gone.

The components of a mobile solution are becoming commoditized.  Yes, they are absolutely valuable and required, but you can get good solutions from many sources today.  The strategic value of enterprise mobility today is less about the tools you are using, and more about the new business models and processes you are enabling.  Your success will be measured on your ability to support existing enterprise systems and integrate with emerging social, analytics and cloud solutions.

My analysis, at the end of 2012, is that the mobile platform vendor market is evolving rapidly.  It is probing many different directions and exploring different business models trying to understand where the market is heading.  This market moves so fast that mobility vendors are struggling to understand the areas where they should be investing.  In an effort to reduce investing in the wrong areas, they are retreating from the app development tools market and leaving that to more general third-party tool vendors.  They are changing their value propositions.

Mobility is of the utmost importance today.  It is mission critical.  As a result, ERP and large enterprise software application vendors will be developing or acquiring their own mobile platforms for their customer base. This means, the unaffiliated mobile platform vendors will be shifting their focuses to the SME markets, niche and vertical solutions, investigating a variety of cloud based, SaaS business models and looking to be acquired.

The mobile solution market is huge, growing fast and rolling forward like a train.  However, unlike a train, it is hard to predict where it is going.  The mobility market, may in fact, be absorbed by the general software application market.  When all software is mobile, there is no longer a need for a separate mobile app development market, and when all ERPs have a platform to standardize mobile connectivity, this market changes as well.  This leads us back to where we began.

2013 is the year of mobile strategy and design.  It is the year of building masterpieces with your mobile lego set.  Find the app development tools that will support your strategy and maximize your flexibility to evolve with your business and with technology trends.  Find a mobile platform vendor that will support today's and tomorrow's needs.  Find your most creative business and technology minds and build your masterpiece.

May your 2013 be filled with joy and learning!

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Kevin Benedict, Head Analyst for SMAC, Cognizant

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Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and SMAC analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

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More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is the Senior Analyst for Digital Transformation at Cognizant, a writer, speaker and SAP Mentor Alumnus. Follow him on Twitter @krbenedict. He is a popular speaker around the world on the topic of digital transformation and enterprise mobility. He maintains a busy schedule researching, writing and speaking at events in North America, Asia and Europe. He has over 25 years of experience working in the enterprise IT solutions industry.