'Tis the season for 2014 predictions, and with a bit of research to back me up, I can confidently predict next year that a majority of IT organizations worldwide will emphasize the importance of developing, innovative mobile applications for employees and customers. And for many IT shops, that will also mean bringing in new talent with skills in the latest mobility platforms to build new apps fast.
The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend is now firmly a reality across companies. And while some organizations might still be lagging in terms of policies and governance, it is now commonplace for employees to expect to do work with their personal devices. Now IT leaders want to get in front of the next wave of mobility: apps. The form factor, or device, used by the end user or customer will become less of an issue as the applications they need to be productive or the apps they want for retail, healthcare, banking and more everyday uses take the lead.
For employees and customers, it will be simply business as usual per the last few years, meaning they will continue to expect IT to keep pace with consumer trends. But for IT, shifting the focus to accommodate a mobile version of many enterprise apps as well as create some new ones based on analytics derived from, say, big data will take an enterprise strategy supported by new mobile skills on staff.
Some recent research on mobility shows many are working toward the strategy part of the equation. According to a survey commissioned by CA Technologies and conducted by Vanson Bourne, some 60 percent of 1,300 IT decision makers worldwide already have now or will have an enterprise-wide mobility strategy in 2014 (see below). The data from this study also revealed that customer initiatives are now outpacing internal BYOD projects on IT priority lists, while both still need to be addressed. That means building mobile apps for internal and external consumption is critical for successful mobility initiatives.
The recognition that an enterprise-wide strategy is needed to adequately address today's mobility needs is a good sign. IT leaders realize they need to maximize the skills and hours put into every mobile effort and spread the knowledge across their various teams within their companies.
For those not planning this strategy in 2014, it most likely isn't for lack of consideration. Inserting mobility into multiple IT domains requires not only technology adoption and updated security approaches, but also cultural changes that are often the most challenging. With BYOD, many IT organizations likely resolved issues tactically on a one-off basis, without first formalizing a strategy.
With a strategy in place or planned, IT leaders will also need to take an inventory of the skills they have in house and determine if they have the skills needed to provide the innovative apps customers will likely be demanding in 2014. Separate research by Dice.com shows searches for mobile skills sets such as Android, iOS, BlackBerry and 4G (just to name a few) are on the rise with the online technology job board. Mobility will no doubt require new skills many IT organizations. And that means there will be a mandate for training existing staff or funds to attract and retain new talent. (About one-quarter of the respondents in this study identified "lack of in-house mobile development talent and skills" as a challenge around mobility projects.
In 2014, expect to see demand (and in turn, compensation) for IT pros with mobile skills grow, and anticipate IT organizations to create new roles to support the enterprise-wide strategies their companies need to make more mobile apps a success. BYOD was just the beginning; smart IT organizations will take the lead in 2014 and drive mobile projects with the right skills, staff and strategy.