Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Enterprise Mobility - Can Microsoft win with Windows 8

With the consumer world going crazy over the potential growth of mobile device markets, it’s about time to analyze how the enterprise world would embrace mobility. Enterprise are notorious to join the party late and mobile won’t be anything different, if at all it could be even ‘later than usual’.

Mobile devices have posed significant challenges in the consumer world in the past few years. Although most of these were trumped pretty well it will be a different story again for enterprises. Enterprise computing will throw very different set of challenges for mobile markets and it would be very interesting how it pans out in the next few years.

If you consider Microsoft, currently it’s a distant 3rd player (Blackberry?) in the mobile market. But I’d like to place my bets on Microsoft to do better when it comes to the Enterprise mobile market. The huge investment Microsoft seem to put for mobile innovations may well pay back once it enters the organizational environments. My optimistic outlook on this has been enhanced by the recent breaking story on Windows phone 8 platform. I think Microsoft will come with the goods in this one and be a serious contender if not the leader in Enterprise Mobility markets.

Some reasons why;
1. Enterprise mobile market is still widely open. Both the consumer market leaders Apple and Google are yet to set a large footprint. So there’s no barrier to entry as in consumer market and there’s no heavily set expectations.

2. Microsoft has the distinct advantage of a well penetrated and matured  enterprise echo-system around its technologies.  Microsoft Windows, Office, Exchange and other software is part and parcel of many organizations these days. Both Apple and Google do not have the same advantages in this field as Microsoft does. This will benefit its mobile aspirations in 2 ways. One, it’s in a unique position to offer a truly integrated experience to the enterprise mobile user the other is that regardless of their offerings the CxOs would like to take the ‘safer’ option and go with Microsoft.

3. Windows phone 8 seem to have some solid features which will entice enterprises and puts it self to a competing position with potential offerings from Apple and Google. Some significant ones are;

  1. Support for proprietary, custom built apps to be deployed behind company firewalls - This is probably the most important one and an area where Apple and Google have not addressed so far.
  2. Near Field Communication (NFC) - Built in support for other windows 8 devices.
  3. Using parts of the PC win 8 kernel  - Means that software has a better chance to prosper cross-platform between PC, Tablet and Mobile. They also mention that the porting of desktop apps to mobile would be simplified although I’ve got my reservations here.
  4. Deep skype integration - This could be great for SMEs using/planning to use VoIP technologies like Skype as their enterprise voice service
  5. Multi-Core CPU support - Both Apple and Google have this already and it would be a big drawback if this wasn’t supported.
  6. 128 bit encryption support with BitLocker - Enterprises love to ‘think’ that they are secured.

4. IT departments already managing a Microsoft based network has all the reasons to prefer a Microsoft mobile offering. IT departments have long established practices and guidelines around maintaining its IT assets (PCs, Telephones, Software etc...). But they will be almost useless in the light of mobile devices. Commissioning and decommissioning mobile devices would have its own challenges and in my opinion that’s part of the reasons why mobile devices are yet to make inroads to the enterprise. The unique (and almost magical) integration of Apple devices to devices of its own kind (and nothing else) and the unlimited variety of Android devices could position Microsoft in good grounds here. If Microsoft plans well, this could be an area where they could seriously offer  benefits to businesses over Apple and Google.

Past couple of years has been really terrific in terms of innovations and breakthroughs in technology world and the next few does look like getting even better. Enterprise Mobility would be a big playing field in this and it would be really interesting to see how Microsoft fares up.

Do you think MS would come out champions or will they continue to fail under the 2 mobile giants?
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