What to expect from business mobility in 2013: Windows 8 tablets, HTML5 apps, greater BYOD control and more

by Doug Drinkwater

December 20 2012

More tablets and on different operating systems

It sounds obvious, but 2013 should see not only an increasing number of tablets in business, what also of these being increasingly split between iOS, Android and Windows 8.

Indeed, when Gartner recently detailed its top 10 strategic technology trends for 2013, mobile device battles was right in the mix.

Furthermore, recent research from the company suggests that business purchases of tablets will more than triple from 13 million units in 2012 to 53 million by 2016, with Windows 8 taking a 39% stake at the end of that time frame.

Plus with Android 4.1 now bringing useful business features like multi-user sign and supporting the provisioning of internal business apps, there are signs that Google isn’t about to throw away any further advantage to Apple and the iPad anytime soon.

True enterprise content creation on tablets

“This is the start of the realization [for tablet’s being used to create content in business],” said ScrollMotion CEO Josh Koppel. 

“We’re going to see companies want to offer touch-content to their teams and to do it themselves. They don’t need an agency to build the tools for them.”

More enterprise app stores

A report from one research firm at Apps World in London earlier this year put enterprise app stores generally fairly low down the list of IT priorities, but this could change in 2013.

2012 after all has seen HP, Lenovo and SAP roll out enterprise app stores, a plethora of MDM vendors offer them to clients as standard and even one analyst reckon Apple could release custom enterprise version of the official App Store going forward.

Research giant Gartner adds to all this by believing that most organizations will deliver mobile apps to workers via private application stores starting from 2013 but progressing to 2014.

Faster product life cycles

There is the view that trends such as consumerization (and with that BYOD) are pushing enterprise and business away from multi-year device lifecycles.

“Gone are the days of yearlong sales cycles, lengthy POCs and 12-18 month implementation plans,” says Vineet Jain, CEO of cloud file sharing provider Egnyte.

“Enterprises will have to catch up to the craziness caused by BYOD, BYOW, and all the other acronyms that crowded 2012. And what’s more, IT will have to do it at warp speeds or get lost in the ether.”

Businesses to increasingly push out internal and external mobile apps

Forget the days of ‘gimmick’ apps or of workers purely relying on consumer offerings, enterprise developer Mubaloo recently explained that internal and external mobile apps for business will be in trend in 2013.

“An increasing number of businesses are preparing a suite of apps, both for internal and customer purposes,” said Mubaloo’s CEO Mark Mason.

"I think that this is really the end of the [app] gimmick and that we’ll see 2013 as the start when businesses really start to understand the value of apps.”

Windows 8 to force the introduction of HTML5 mobile apps

Industry professionals believe that the arrival of Windows 8 could see businesses concentrate on HTML5 apps, in order to deliver applications cross platform at a much reduced cost.

“Through 2014, JavaScript performance will push HTML5 and the browser as a mainstream application developer environment,” noted Gartner recently. “There will be long shift to HTML5 from native apps as HTML5 becomes more capable.”

Adding weight to this theory was Mobile App Management vendor Apperian.  “There will be a shift to HTML5 apps because companies will say ‘It was OK when he had two operating systems but supporting a third is just crazy’,” said the firm’s Alan Murray, SVP of products.

PC-like governance on the use of tablets in business

Tablets for now may have been restricted to relatively minor roles within organizations, but Apperian’s Murray thinks that the rise of devices like the iPad will force businesses to introduce PC-like compliance on how these goods are used.

“We’re in conversations with folks around what compliance looks like, and how they can measure and enforce compliance. They have to recognize that this is a post-PC world where there is as much high-sensitive data on tablets as on PCs.”

The cloud is everywhere

Researchers appear to agree that the cloud will become the ‘center of our digital lives’ in 2013, housing our apps, content and preferences and making devices generally less important.

Indeed, the Yankee Group says that over 50% of companies will look to cloud for their mobile app deployments in 2013, with software-as-a-service (SaaS) leading the way.

“Demand‐side pressures and supply‐side innovations are accelerating enterprise deployments of mobile applications in the cloud. Next year, the majority of enterprises will be deploying their applications using software‐as‐a‐service (SaaS), as opposed to on‐premises software,” read the company’s predictions report.

Surprises: Two new iPads, $99 tablets and Microsoft helping out developers

Life is always full of surprises and they will almost certainly continue to be the case for tablets and mobile computing in business in 2013.

For smartphones we’re likely to see the arrival of the iPhone 6, new phones running BlackBerry 10 and the continuing presence of Android vendors from a mix of vendors.

On the tablet side, there could be two new iPads, $99 tablets from Asus and Acer, and the first Nokia tablet, while one researcher (Yankee Group) even reckons Microsoft could cut its 30% developer fee to boost Windows 8 app development.

Doug Drinkwater is the International Editor of TabTimes and is based in London, England.

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