Mobility should be integrated seamlessly into every channel provider offering and no longer treated as a trend, a fashion, a specific proposition, or a bolt-on.
That's according to industry experts at CRN's Channel Conference on Mobility today, several of whom also noted that it might be almost too late to start selling mobility, if your business hadn't already done so.
Alan Shields, IT services head at Cambridgeshire County Council, gave a customer's-eye view of the mobility landscape.
"Users want a mobile solution that works," he said. "It's no different to any other solution you're going to sell me."
Consumerisation has "put the cat among the pigeons" in terms of making demand for and expectations around mobility near-ubiquitous, and raising the stakes for channel providers because customers want mobility to be a part of their standard, everyday IT, not an added extra. That effect has been exacerbated by the entry of Generation Y into the workplace.
Jamie Marshall, chief technology officer at managed services provider Calyx, told delegates that figures quoted by a range of analysts suggest the market for mobility-related IT and services will be massive, perhaps $140bn (£83bn), by 2020.
This means access to data and information – as has often been repeated – must be available to today's worker anywhere, any time, and any place.
"And if I have to put data in a SharePoint site, it means I cannot find it," Marshall said. "I've read that 24 per cent of workers now use a mobile phone or a tablet as the primary work device."
Borja Rosales, managing director of endpoint security vendor Druva in Europe, noted that the channel must understand also that mobility isn't just about enabling workers who don't come into the office with technology, but about the worker who does come into the office and has a desktop but is bringing his or her own tablet, laptop or smartphone in and expecting it all to interoperate seamlessly.
"These demands are something the IT department has to enable; this is non-negotiable," Rosales confirmed.
Their views tallied with results from CRN Intelligence's latest survey, which canvassed the state of play around mobile technology among customers and partners.
"Mobility is definitely here to stay and is becoming an integral part of everyday business," said CRN editor Sara Yirrell, who presented the research results for the first time at the channel conference.
The survey found that increased mobility is of interest and being adopted across the organisational spectrum, with SMBs leading the way, followed by mid-size organisations. Both local and central government bodies are increasing the mobility and flexibility of their workforces, as are healthcare organisations, large enterprises, and education institutions.
That was despite worries about security and productivity, Yirrell noted.
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