We sat down this month with Daniel Taylor, Managing Director of the Mobile Enterprise Alliance. Daniel is a globetrotter. We appreciate him spending time with us on the heels of his keynote address at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes, France. The MEA is a global advocacy group promoting the business benefits of mobility to enterprise end users and decision makers. The MEA provides a vendor-neutral and technology-independent clearinghouse for information about all things related to the mobile enterprise.
Aeroprise: You keynoted at 3GSM in Cannes recently. What trends did you see?
Daniel Taylor: There’s finally a focus on the enterprise, and this is a very exciting sea change. When you have Rene Olbermann from T-Mobile and Jim Balsillie from RIM both saying that the enterprise is really important for the wireless operators, you have a trend.
I had a lot of people come to me to say that the MEA reflects their sentiments exactly and they’ve been waiting for years for the industry to figure out that there’s more to mobility than consumer-oriented devices and services. People are getting tired of downloadable ringtones and games, because they’re now using mobility tools on a daily basis to truly enhance the way they work, and they want everything to work reliably, easily, efficiently and seamlessly—just as we expected when we were all sitting at our desks in the old days.
AP: How do these trends fit with the MEA’s goals for the next 12 to 18 months?
DT: When we founded the MEA in Spring 2003, one of our initial goals was to build a category known as “Mobile Enterprise” and to be able to differentiate that concept. Today, “mobile enterprise” is a commonly used term many people understand. I feel very good about that because now we can focus on putting together a set of specifications for enterprise-class wireless services, mobile devices and mobile software. There’s a lot of work ahead, and I’m glad to have the category defined. Next up is engaging more vendors, and especially enterprise IT management.
AP: One of the key messages the MEA is focused on is “enterprise class.” What do you mean by that?
DT: When we say “enterprise class,” we’re talking about the fact that many of the mobile product offerings in the marketplace are essentially consumer-oriented products and services that have been repurposed for business applications. There are many vendors who focus on the fact that many workers often purchase their devices in a retail environment. But “enterprise class” is more than removing the digital cameras from mobile phone handsets.
There is an underlying issue of the wireless services themselves, and many within the enterprise are looking for more backend features and capabilities for billing, audit and service level agreements—capabilities that do not exist in consumer-oriented products and services available today.
AP: How does mobility software fit into this classification? What are some attributes of “enterprise-class” mobility software?
DT: The primary requirement for enterprise-class mobility software is that it functions within a mobile environment. As you know, many wireless networks have different performance characteristics than fixed networks. The primary difference is in latency, which has direct effects on application response time. In a highly latent network, enterprise applications must be able to accommodate longer response times, as well as maintain application state when the connection is lost.
Further, many of the enterprise software vendors are looking for a set of enterprise class features from mobile devices. The network, the device and the application must all work together if we expect to see true enterprise mobility.