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HP Software's community for IT leaders // April 2013

Mobility in 2020: Challenge of a moving target

The Enterprise 20/20 ebook forecasts the age when everyone and everything is (even more) connected.

Depending on which prediction you believe, each person on Earth may be using as many as nine mobile devices by 2020. In fact, smartphones already outship PCs, and a recent TIME Mobility Poll found an increasing daily dependence on mobile devices.

HP’s Enterprise 20/20 project, a crowdsourced ebook that is examining, chapter by chapter, the world we’ll live and work in by 2020, recently focused on where the red-hot mobility trend is headed. Spoiler alert: It’s not dying out.

The interconnected world of the next decade will rely heavily on public, private, and personal clouds. Today’s “mobile experience” will evolve into, quite simply, life. By 2020, zettabytes of data from trillions of networked sensors will have transformed the Internet of Things—also a topic in this issue's main IM article—making transactions and interactions seamless. For instance:

  • Wearable devices and mobile apps will manage your health—and share details with your doctor.
  • Your car will know how you drive, who’s in the car with you, and how you’re feeling.
  • Your favorite café or retail store will recognize you, know why you’re there, and send custom offers.
  • Your printer will be able to order its own toner when it starts to run low.
  • Salespeople will use mobile devices to deliver immersive, interactive demo products.
  • You’ll be able to pay for public transit, file tax returns, and report public safety issues on the go, thanks to embedded biometric sensors and yet-to-be-developed mobile innovations.

“Mobile and cloud are two ends of the same thing, a totally new platform for business and consumer service innovation,” says Frank Gens, senior vice president and chief analyst at IDC. “Mobile devices are redefining and stretching the edge beyond where the PC took us. Cloud is redefining the core and is much simpler to deploy and use."

IT’s mobility challenge: Engage, securely and invisibly

The challenge, of course, is that “most IT pros didn’t grow up in this era,” notes Paul Evans, worldwide lead for Application Transformation Solutions at HP. “They are trying to understand shorter development times, shorter refresh cycles, and better user experience where the bar is being constantly driven higher. It’s challenging, but it’s got to be addressed to set the stage for 2020.”

 Among the questions IT leaders will wrestle with:

  • How IT and business leaders will identify, and capitalize on, mobile opportunities.
  • How IT will instill the skills—and the culture—that will let IT deliver a new generation of services.
  • How to secure data in a mobile, BYOD era—and who will be responsible for risk management and compliance.

And overall, Evans says, the business and IT leaders who will deliver mobile services—which is to say, virtually all of them—will have to focus on how to grab the impatient, multitasking, on-the-go user. “The key word for mobility 2020 must be engagement,” he says.

And how you engage them is critical, notes Jeff Edlund, CTO of HP’s Communications and Media Solutions division. “We are not meeting the primary need of the end user in regard to mobility,” Edlund says. “The process of mobility should be completely invisible. Yet every device requires you to think about how you’re going to connect. The end user still has to work too hard to obtain this nirvanic notion of mobility.”

Edlund envisions a sort of cloud-based avatar, an intelligent personal attendant that can communicate across all the mobile devices in your life. “Regardless of what device you pick up, the avatar is the entity that provides a seamless experience.”

In terms of security, the question will be, “How do I manage in a world where I can’t lock everything down?” says IDC’s Gens.

The way to do this, says Boris Balacheff, an HP Labs senior researcher, is to accept BYOD—but manage it, controlling and maintaining visibility into what content any given user has access to, and in what context. “The vision is to manage the security of the link between our mobile devices and the cloud, as well as between the cloud services used to create the mobile experience.”

Immediate (strategic) action

IT faces pressure from the business to rush further into immediate mobility, without first establishing a strategy. And with SaaS providers out there selling exactly what the business units want, directly to the business units, you’ll have to respond to that pressure.  But you need a full mobile strategy, not a patchwork, ad-hoc approach that leaves you with outdated systems sputtering under duct-taped mobile front ends.

That means IT leaders have to get their heads around mobility and fight a two-front war, Evans says. “You have to run these things in parallel, continuously serving the business while continuously forming a strategy.”

Evans says that means “getting creative.” Gens agrees—smart, sustained innovation is the key: “To stage for 2020, IT executives need to be reinventing IT as an innovation platform for their enterprise,” he says.

Read the full Mobility chapter, and join the conversation, at


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