Early this month, I attended the Gartner IT Symposium to get up to speed with what more than 10,000 CIOs and IT Executives were up to for 2015 (and beyond).  Of course, being in the mobile space, the key topic of interest for me has been mobile. I wanted to see if and how the enterprises’ approach to mobile has changed and what it could mean for us in building and marketing a great mobile development platform. What I was able to validate is mobile is still top of mind, that hasn’t changed. What has changed is the IT executives’ approach to it. They seemed to be eager to loosen up on the policy-making, roadmap-setting, infrastructure-fitting approach to mobile that inhibits progress, and just let it happen. Like a start-up...

What are the pressures that drive this behavior? Well, I didn’t have to go too far to find the answers. They were all discussed during the conference:

Stay Relevant

With the proliferation of pre-packaged, SaaS and analytics solutions, the relevance of IT has been shrinking. In some companies marketing’s software budget is larger than the company’s overall IT budget. With the explosion of Mobile, to "speed things up" the Line of Business has gone off to find solutions outside of IT. In fact, according to Gartner, 38 percent of total IT spend is outside of IT--and it will be 50% by 2017. So the advice was: in order to get back to adding strategic value, IT organization's role must change from just control to influence.

I found it interesting that as part of the event agenda there was even a workshop for the CIOs on how to grow revenue. Imagine that.

Be an Innovator, not a Cost Cutter

Probably the loudest message throughout the conference was that the CIOs must move away from being cost-cutters and "optimizers" to being innovators. They must be the ones making important technology decisions, such as Mobile, IoT, etc., that directly impact the company’s business model and revenue. The roles such as CMO and now the emerging CDO (Chief Digital Officer) are taking over the "digital revolution." To re-establish themselves as vanguards of innovation, CIOs must continue supporting the old operations (keep the constant as is), and use a second, more fluid mode of operations (start-up-like) for critical new initiatives. This second mode can be leveraged by things like applications and tools, flat teams and DevOps.

Getting There

To get their seat back at the strategy table, below is what I could synthesize from a sea of presentations and advice on what the IT executives must focus on:

Cloud is the Way to Go

Although cloud is gaining more acceptance and even becoming mainstream in some areas, there’s still hesitation in conservative industries to embrace it. In some cases, it is due to the lack of strategy regarding cloud adoption. Cloud is easy, it has no capital expenditure, it lets you focus on your users and not worry about your infrastructure. But there are different ways to embrace cloud. You can adopt it at an infrastructure level, at a platform level or at an application level. Which one is the right approach if your goal is to differentiate your business and innovate?

Gartner advises to lean more towards the platform level adoption (PaaS). You have to choose a path that truly differentiates you and a cloud platform is a better fit for that. With the cloud at an Infrastructure level you might get a bit more "grunt work" than you need, while SaaS (a pre-packaged application) will not really differentiate you from your competitors, because anyone can go and buy the same app off the shelf. However, SaaS may be a best approach for standard operations such as CRM.

Embrace The Explosion of "Things"

Here’s the sentiment I got on IoT from the conference: "Things" are definitely here. Caterpillar, for example, is already turning 3.5 million objects into the digital things. The trend for IoT is set to grow rapidly. Gartner predicts there will be half a million IP-addressable objects by 2020. This year only enterprises will spend 40 billion dollars on IoT. But what is the main driver behind IoT for enterprise? What are the benefits? Definitely at an operations level (especially in Manufacturing and Healthcare) it is optimizing their existing operations and gaining cost efficiencies. As the smartphones get more powerful, IoT will proliferate the businesses’ consumer-facing operations too. In fact, one of the analysts said the Smartphone is your universal link to the internet of things. By 2020 more than 50% of domestic smart objects will be able to communicate (directly or indirectly) with a smartphone. In other words, mobile jump-starts IoT. And it will be the hub where you will see your ‘sensor data’ and control your things.

Understand: Mobile is About Users, Not Devices

While it is true that the mobile device landscape will remain fragmented, it is important to stop thinking about mobile as an endpoint challenge, and start thinking about it as a new way to enable an enterprise employee and build relationships with your customers. It is not only the business’ job to think about the user, the CIO must get into that mindset too. User experience is what you need to focus on. Because that’s the thing that unlocks productivity and satisfaction and reduces risk. You have to make your apps usable in the moment. That’s all that matters.

Now that we mentioned the device fragmentation, for those who is interested this is what the picture looks like for 2015 (in the enterprise):

40% Apple

9% Microsoft

21% Samsung

10% other Android Devices

Windows is set to pick up and grow significantly by 2018, by the way.

Prepare for the Challenge of Security in the World of IoT and Mobile

Security with mobile, and now IoT too is probably the most prominent challenge that grows at a faster rate than the new solutions start appearing for it. With a myriad of MDM and mobile security frameworks, there’s still risk. Plus, employees are getting more resistant to the level of control IT has over their BYOD devices. The very general advice here is to balance the risk and reward with security. In other words, don’t let security stand in the way of your app’s performance and don’t allow the user experience to totally dismiss security. And best of luck in accomplishing that mission!

As for trends, Gartner thinks the next level of security is at the application runtime-enabling applications to protect themselves. Enterprises must think about security at the design stage.

Start the Talent Quest Now

So how should CIOs staff and re-organize their teams for this new era of influential IT?

They need to change how they allocate people investment for both the fluid (start-up) and solid (predictable) modes. And for those who want to move to the fluid side, here are the hot jobs the enterprise will likely be hiring for most: data scientists, application architects, ux designers, and integration specialists.

Why I think Telerik Platform is on the Right Track

Talking to attendees and listening to tens of analyst thoughts gave me a sense of great accomplishment for the things we have done and the direction we are heading. Telerik Platform is the first mobile application development platform to truly put the cloud at the heart of its product strategy. It’s been built services-first, enabling everything the cloud has to offer for building and running apps efficiently. High productivity, high speed, no provisioning , no certification, no installation are all the benefits of the cloud that the platform truly embraced.

Second, the fact that Telerik Platform leverages familiar standards that enterprises already use, such as JavaScript and .NET, will help many existing developers in these companies to quickly cross the chasm from web only to web and mobile development. Thus, enterprises can take the learning curve out of the equation when thinking about innovating fast with mobile.

And to help enterprise developers focus on the user experience for delivering great apps, Telerik Platform has a whole set of tools to aid in that. From performance and functional testing to user analytics to user engagement and feedback--these are all the capabilities that are there to help you create great apps. Besides, the cloud collaboration features enable teams of developers to design, code and deploy apps in the most effective way, improving the user experience and design principles collaboratively during each stage.

That whole IoT, Security, and Integration wave that’s coming, you’ll ask? Stay tuned, we have great plans boiling for it too!

About the Author

Aygun Suleymanova

Aygun is the Head of Platform Product Marketing at Telerik.

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