Sunday, May 15, 2011

Next Generation Enterprise Mobility

It was on April 5, 1994, that Kurt Cobain, the 27-yr old iconic lead singer of rock band Nirvana, committed suicide. Millions of young people around the world mourned the passing of the king of grunge, but Cobain’s death had a broader significance. It signaled the beginning of the end of his generation, the generation born in the sixties, the generation that believed in nothing, the generation that had lost its way, Generation X.

Gen-Xers were the first to experience cable TV, video games, PCs, and Internet as a tool for social and commercial purposes. Detached from their past, they embraced these changes eagerly, but, put simply, they lacked a clear vision of how they could use these new technological breakthroughs.

Since the mid-nineties, Generation X has been superseded by Generation Y, also known as the Millennials and Generation Next. This generation is characterized by an increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies. The Millennials understand the amazing potential of the technology at their disposal, and have developed skills such as teamwork, multitasking, and hi-tech entrepreneurism to change the world around them.

The rise of instant online and mobile communication technologies, such as email, SMS, and IM, as well as social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, have broken down social, economic and geographic barriers between people. The tech-savvy, always-on twentysomething-thirtysomething young adults of today have access to more information on demand than any previous generation, and have forced the information industry to adapt to new business models. They have a seemingly unquenchable thirst for knowledge, but demand to get it fast, easy, and cheap.

Whereas Gen-Xers, and even many Millennials, can still remember the days before the digital age, when sending mail required a postage stamp, and when only birds tweeted, the digital natives of Generation Z, who were born into the globalization of the mid-nineties and early 2000s, cannot begin to imagine a world that isn’t 24/7 connected, online, mobile, and digital.

For tomorrow’s smart businesspeople, the thought of having to sit at a desk to be able to get things done is not only illogical, it is plain unnatural. For them, real-time mobility is fundamental. Why limit yourself to a single location and static work environment, if you can be doubly productive when you’re on the move?

The challenge facing large parts of the global business community today is how best to change the way they operate to cater for the needs of Generation Y and Generation Z employees and customers. Enterprises must seamlessly mobilize their core activities, blurring or even erasing any differences between back-office and front-end user experiences. This is what true Enterprise Mobility is all about. Enterprise mobile users need to be able to perform any business task from any location at any time using any mobile device. With the increasing proliferation of smartphones and mobile platforms that offer support for real enterprise mobility, enterprises need to be able to develop device-independent and future-proof business solutions for fast, simple, and cost-effective mobile deployment.

Generation Z will undoubtedly face many tough challenges, in particular related to global warming and the search for clean renewable energy, but how to do business in a mobile environment will not be one of them. Companies that do not gear up for total enterprise mobility are destined to find themselves exhibited in museums as relics from a bygone generation.