The convergence of social, mobile, and cloud IT infrastructure (SoMoClo as termed by the Aberdeen Group) provides the opportunity for radical business transformation and resource realignment.
- Part 1 of this four-part series provided an overview of the SoMoClo concept, and its implications for IT;
- Part 2 looked at cloud technologies and services as the SoMoClo core; and
- Part 3 was on social technologies and their role in communications and collaboration in SoMoClo.
In this section, we will look at the essential role that mobile technologies play.
The notion of a client in the classic client/server model is dissolving: the endpoint is now the user, whose identity, activity, and access permissions are managed in the cloud.
The customer, the enterprise knowledge worker, and the channel partner may all be presumed mobile; that is, tied to neither a specific location nor device.
The allure of this transformation is in the competitive differentiation that comes from process efficiency and streamlined workflow. But is IT ready?
The SoMoClo framework is instructive in that it’s a roadmap for how to get there — to a unified social, mobile and cloud strategy — from here, whatever stage your IT infrastructure is in, in the continuum from disparate to converged (Figure 1).
Figure 1: SoMoClo Converged Infrastructure
In this SoMoClo view, whether the user is accessing the cloud and collaborating with others through social connections on a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop becomes moot.
Not irrelevant, because managing identity, access, security, and compliance requires visibility to, and control of, the actual physical device; but is less and less the defining characteristic of the interaction.
What this means for IT is that, like public and private cloud deployments, enterprise mobility must be considered as core IT infrastructure — as secure, compliant, and performance-optimised as all other IT assets.
However, mobility arrives at IT’s doorstep differently.
With the exception of pure Software-as-a-Service, most cloud decisions are initiated, funded, and managed by IT.
Mobility, on the other hand, trickles in from the unmonitored edges.
Unaccustomed to taking a reactive role in technology adoption, IT is placed in a defensive position.
The increasingly sophisticated mobile technology at the fingertips of consumers raises even higher expectations in the workplace and quickly becomes a source of frustration when IT does not react with agility.
This is precisely where a converged infrastructure framework is useful.
The SoMoClo model reveals a concert of organizational capabilities and technology enablers required for IT agility in the growing domain of enterprise mobility (Figure 2).
Figure 2: SoMoClo Mobility Solution Landscape
Beginning at the bottom of the figure, with the advent and increased adoption of device- and platform-independent content creation frameworks such as HTML5, as well as platform virtualization technologies, software applications are becoming increasingly abstracted from the hardware on which they run.
As a consequence, the data they access and act upon is similarly abstracted. An agile infrastructure strategy is called for; it’s the classic make/buy/integrate choice writ large.
Which mobile technologies and services are best managed in-house, and which are better managed by 3rd-party experts?
For example, the rise in enterprise mobility in the SoMoClo era has recently been accompanied by accelerated in interest in custom mobile app development.
Consequently, the decision to develop an enterprise mobile app in-house or to outsource some or all of the development is a real-world IT challenge.
In an Aberdeen Group survey conducted during the past three months and including more than 650 organisations worldwide, 120 respondents who are developing enterprise mobile apps to promote process efficiency and competitive differentiation split in their approach.
All of them enjoyed improvement in employee productivity, employee satisfaction, and overall operational efficiency.
But those who took either a hybrid or fully-outsourced approach achieved significant competitive advantage over those who chose to develop solely in-house (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Mobile App Development Outcomes
There are countless such decisions to be made on the SoMoClo journey. For each challenge, there are costs and benefits to be weighed.
For the end-user, mobility means that their data and application environment travels with them from mobile device to desktop and back again, all conveyed and managed through the cloud, and all in compliance with IT mandates.
For the IT department, adding mobility comes with significant risk, effort, and investment; but, it can be done with agility and it has the potential to introduce operational efficiencies that make a significant contribution to the overall health and vitality of the entire organisation, from cloud core to mobile edge.
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Andrew Borg is Research Director, Enterprise Communications and Russ Klein is Vice President, Research Strategy at Aberdeen Group