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Business mobility is changing the core Business processes

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VMware_Sanjay Deshmukh

According to the IDC Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) Enterprise Mobility 2013 Market Sizing Forecast, the total addressable enterprise mobility solutions industry, which includes applications, devices, security, middleware and professional services, is expected to grow from US$ 22 billion in 2015 to US$ 26.7 billion by 2017. The market in India is also slated to grow from US$ 1.7 billion in 2015 to US$ 2.3 billion in 2017. This is where companies like VMware see a huge opportunity. Indian organisations are paying close attention to the future of business processes in the mobile-cloud era, taking India to the cusp of the next major technology wave in the Asia Pacific region. With a new generation of smartphone-powered workers, who have easier access to end-user devices and network connectivity, businesses are prioritising and reorienting themselves around mobile innovation, apps and services. Business mobility is clearly the way to go. Diksha P Gupta from Open Source For You spoke to Sanjay Deshmukh, general manager, business mobility, VMware, APJ, about the trend called business mobility and why it is important for businesses to adopt it. Excerpts:

Q Although the potential of business mobility sounds exciting, there are only a handful of companies in the field, as of now. The trend seems to be picking up at a rather slow pace.
The trend of business mobility has only just begun. It was not even an idea a decade back. We have just got started. Most of the customers we talk to have started adopting this idea more for individual productivity. They have started with allowing employees to access emails on devices like mobile phones and tablets. This increases individual productivity. Some companies have gone a step ahead and have started offering collaboration apps; but yes, I agree that only a handful of them have truly adopted business mobility. So there is a difference in the adoption styles.

The way we differentiate between them is that true business mobility means you change your business processes and you start thinking ‘mobile’ first. Retail is a classic demonstration of how to serve customers better and make employees more effective. That is where business mobility is being embraced. But that percentage is very small today. In our survey, we found only 15-17 per cent of customers have truly embraced business mobility, which means they have changed business processes to adopt business mobility. The reason that number is so low is that we have just got started. We do believe that a lot of customers will transition to adopting business mobility 100 per cent in a short period of time. Further, our survey reveals that even though the percentage of companies that have adopted business mobility so far is so small, everybody wanted to get there. So it is not a question of whether to do it or not, but when to do it.

Q So, when is the time appropriate for any business organisation to adopt business mobility?
Business mobility is a journey. You can start with a small thing like email and productivity apps, and then you get on to the bigger ones. Different businesses have different triggers. We have often seen that millennials, as a group of people, are faster adopters of business mobility. Because that is the way they like to engage and work. For companies, the trigger comes from a business transformation initiative, when there is pressure from the business side to drastically change their customer experience and the way they interact with them. So we have had banks, for example, adopting this concept. In India, the most popular initiative we are seeing is tab banking, where the bank is coming to the consumer either to capture the KYC (know your customer) details or to offer other services. Every bank in India will have to take these initiatives since this will become the default way of engaging with the customer. Some of the banks have started early, but every one will gradually do it.

If you look at what is required to enable business mobility, you need a mobile device, an application and a platform like ours, to secure the device and to deliver the application. So, those are some of the initiatives that will trigger the adoption of business mobility. Speaking of tab banking again, it truly qualifies as a business mobility initiative because it has changed the business process. Earlier, the customer used to come to the bank to provide the details and get things done. Now the banks bring the services to customers, which has changed the experience completely. So this is a classic example of how business mobility is changing the core business processes, and improving service and the customer experience.

Q VMware propagates business mobility as the ‘brave new model of IT’. Can you elaborate on this concept?
The need for the ‘brave new model of IT’ arises because the business landscape is changing. It is in a state of flux and is changing dynamically. You cannot continue to do what you have been doing over the last 25 years. That is where the need for the new model of IT comes in, because the way we worked in the past 25 years, whether it was with the client server or the mainframe, will not take you into the cloud era to give you the benefits that these new technologies can. The new model of IT, as defined by us in one line, is ‘One cloud, any application, any device’.
So it all starts with having one cloud. This means that whether you have a data centre or you are consuming services from a managed or public cloud, it’s important that there is a common architecture and that it’s all built on software defined architecture. Customers, in such cases, can shift their workload wherever they want to. So, if they want to increase their capacity, they can always leverage the public cloud. And conversely, if they want to reduce capacity, they can go back to a private cloud. This is possible only when there is a common architecture across all these environments. That’s how the concept of one cloud starts. It can run on any hardware—regular or converged. All this is done to deliver applications, which the consumers can use from any device.

Q Is the concept of business mobility restricted only to enterprises or can SMEs also leverage its advantages?
This is for everyone. If you look at our customer base, we have OYO Rooms on the list. OYO Rooms is not among the top 1000 companies in India, but it leverages business mobility. We have a lot of such customers who have realised that they need to leapfrog ahead. They are competing with the bigger enterprises. Even a small company is competing for a consumer who has the option of going to a large enterprise. So both large and small enterprises are competing in the same space. They want to leapfrog ahead with the help of technology, so that they can offer a better, differentiated service to the customers. In short, business mobility is a big opportunity for SMEs who can truly transform their businesses with it.

Q What are the sectors that you are looking at for business mobility?
Business mobility is relevant for everyone. Having said that, some sectors will adopt it faster than the others. Retail is the sector adopting business mobility the fastest, followed by finance, education, healthcare, manufacturing, government, and so on. These are the leading sectors.

Q Business mobility looks like the way to go but enterprises still seem to be stuck in the past. What are the reasons for this?
First, they are worried about how to manage all of this, where every employee will be coming in with their own devices. The second concern is data security and how to keep all the information secure. The third concern is the overall security of the devices, in terms of the information that they carry. So basically, security and manageability are the two major concerns and roadblocks stopping customers from embracing this technology. Wherever we are able to engage in these conversations with the customers, and convince them on how we will address their security concerns, they come on board. We try to tell that with business mobility, the users do get flexibility yet the enterprise remains as secure as is possible.

Q What are the top three considerations that a company must look at while considering business mobility as a solution?
The top three considerations from the technology stand point include heterogeneity, simplicity and having everything running on a secure infrastructure. What we tell our customers is that when you are making a transition to business mobility, make sure that these three aspects are the core design elements in your strategy. Heterogeneity is important, because if you build your strategy for business mobility adoption based on one application, one device or one platform, it will defeat the purpose. So you need to be prepared that whatever solution or platform that you are building supports any device—not only the devices available in the market today but also the devices that will come out in the future.
The second element is consumer grade simplicity. Enterprises generally have functionalities but what they lack is simplicity. SAP as an application can do everything. It’s not that SAP lacks functionality. What people struggle with when they use it, is its lack of simplicity. So user-friendliness is of prime importance.
Last, but not the least, all the applications need to run on a trusted infrastructure, because if you don’t keep an infrastructure perspective while building all this, which is your cloud and data centre infrastructure, you will not be able to leverage all the investments and innovations that you have done in that space. These are the key elements to be kept in mind to enable business mobility.

Q What are the roadblocks that one can encounter while adopting business mobility?
If you build applications that align with these three key elements, the possibilities are that you may not have to face any roadblocks. But if you miss out on any one of these, the move to business mobility may not be as fruitful for the company as it should be. For instance, let’s say the heterogeneity element is missed out, and someone takes the application-centric approach. After the application is operational, one may feel that the current infrastructure is good for that application but may not be suitable to run other applications. So, this needs to be checked at an early stage. Similarly, one cannot restrict an application to just one platform, like iOS or Android. There are so many platforms and so many devices available today, which needs to be considered before devising a business mobility strategy.