"The best way to look at the future of wireless is to sit on a bench in Korea and just watch people," says Jay Burrell, the US-based VP for business development at Nokia Enterprise Solutions, a group which sells mobile email, synchronisation and device management software to network operators and end user organisations.
"We are very bullish on smartphones," he adds, before warning: "The wireless world is doing the same thing the PC world did - people are buying their own devices and software, and using them behind the firewall. By 2008, 70 percent of organisations will have three or more suppliers of email services.
"The result is DIY-IT in the enterprise. It 's a challenging time for management - enterprises have got to get in control of mobilisation early or run the risk of things going bad. And it's not just salesforce automation either - all your executives are demanding email, and they want apps driven out to white-collar staff. Middleware is a crucial part of that deployment."
Nokia, but not-Nokia
Just over a year ago, Nokia bought mobile middleware developer Intellisync. Now, Burrell finds himself in the strange position of having to argue that Nokia handsets aren't the be-all and end-all, and that others need to be catered for as well.
"Nokia's enterprise solutions group is device-agnostic, which is rather unusual within Nokia," he says. "All our software is designed to run on all the major operating systems and devices - we had a big revenue boost when Motorola launched the Q on Verizon, for example.
"We will never have 100 percent of the devices, and any organisation will have multiple devices and operating systems to support. IT has done a great job of getting control of the distribution of laptops but we're not there yet on phones. You could be issued with an E61, say, but as you move up the ladder, personal choice comes in."
Running alongside this, he says, is the change in consumer attitudes and behaviour. In particular, younger users regard mobile devices in a much more personal and organic way - Burrell cites the example of a Singaporean student who used her mobile phone to film herself in bed with her boyfriend, but then had the phone stolen and the videos published on the web.
Research suggests that most 17-25 year-olds see nothing wrong in how she used the device, he claims - and he says it highlights the need for a data-wiping capability for mobile devices, whether they're owned by businesses or consumers.
He adds that with 65 percent of enterprises predicted to have wireless apps deployed by 2007 or 2008, according to analysts at Meta Group, the big challenges are going to be management and security.
The need for mobile device management
"The wild card is device management - that's very under-served right now," he says. "Software installs are a big drive for mobile deployment. It's a big thing for enterprises - how to update devices and applications. Carriers can't update enterprise apps.
"The pain points are security and corporate risk. This also goes back to the laptop parallel - device personalisation becomes more important as the user is promoted, and with laptops that meant executives bringing viruses in.
"Even with laptops, it costs twice as much to deploy Microsoft Office as to buy the software. That will be a bigger issue with handhelds. IT support cost is going to go up as a percentage of total spend - but device management software could save you a third of that. We have to build in the IT security and management hooks right right from the start."
Burrell says the next big thing for smartphones will be VoIP. His group is working with Cisco, Avaya and others, and is getting a lot of interest from enterprises keen not only to give their smartphone users access to least-cost routing, but PBX and Centrex functionality such as one-number, group mobility and call forwarding too.
Beyond that, the factor which Burrell says will differentiate - and complicate - mobile applications, as usage grows, is the degree of per-user customisation that each requires.
Customisation vs ROI
"We've been seeing low to moderate application customisation so far," he explains. "It's been broadly-deployed apps with high ROI, such as email. Next we will see apps also with high ROI but more demanding on customisation," such as CRM and salesforce automation
"The challenge is how to get the devices and apps sending only the changes, and not the full data set," he says. "It's how do we get files or file access out to mobiles - refresh instead of full upload. Then how do you get access to information that's not on the device in your hand - on your PC, say? We have done that for email, contacts, calendar, etc, now what about presentations or documents?"
As for how enterprises will achieve all this, Burrell claims that the key factor is what Nokia calls 'mobileware' - the notion of putting a server behind the firewall to manage all those mobile devices and host services for them.
"For now it's email, device management, voice and so on, but that list should double in the next two years," he says
"The idea is that within the next three years the average businessperson will be able to take a trip without their laptop. The network needs to support that - the gating factor now is network speed.
"Demand for that will be created by individual users, using hosted services that catch on, and then getting IT to support them."
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