What is a mobile-first enterprise? Does mobile-first only mean phones? Or phones and tablets? What about laptops?
In a PC-first enterprise, all the end user computing efforts were focused on enabling access to applications and data on a PC. However, today end users use different devices and different form factors throughout the day. During the same day, an end user may use a phone to check email, a laptop to compose a document, and a tablet to browse the intranet. Just like consumers do.
A quick look at consumer device usage trends will confirm this.Let's look at traffic and sales data for different kinds of devices for the 2014 Thanksgiving season.
First, let’s look at the traffic data. Three different form factors were used to browse online stores during the 2014 Thanksgiving season. Tablets were used disproportionately higher than their numbers.
Second, lets look at sales data in the 2014 Thanksgiving online sales. Tablets contributed even more disproportionately to the sales during the same period. Much fewer sales happened on phones as a percentage of their total numbers.
The numbers indicate that end users use different form factors (and different kinds of OS) to perform different tasks. Even though the percentage of mobile traffic has gone up, we still see all three form factors being used and their usage patterns being different.
I believe that enterprise mobility will also follow similar trends. Different kinds of users and different kinds of tasks will require different form factors. A single user may use 2-3 different devices daily – perhaps a phone when driving, a laptop at work, and a tablet while at home. A sales person may use the tablet and phone more often, a finance employee may use the laptop and phone more often, while an engineer may use a laptop most often. A consultant may choose to use their own Macbook.
IT should prepare for a world where users will use a wide selection of devices to do their jobs. There will be phones, tablets, and PCs. They will run iOS, Android, Windows OS, and Mac OS.
Since IT is already very good at delivering apps and data to PCs, IT should adopt a mobile-first, not a mobile-only approach, to end user computing. This is needed to drive the right strategic choices to ensure that you can mobilize your enterprise.