Windows Phone 8: How its going to penetrate the Enterprises?


Windows 8, both Desktop and Phone versions of the OS have been out for a while. Overall, the acceptance of the same has been favorable from the tech world. One area where Windows Phone 8 can shine is the Enterprise, due to multiple factors.

We will use the following three key sections to analyse and find whether Windows Phone 8 can make an impact on the Enterprise landscape or not.

The Present

The current enterprise mobile solutions are heavily dominated by Blackberry and iOS Devices to some extend.

Blackberry

Blackberry still remains the Enterprise IT Department’s favoured mobile work force solution, highly contributed by the secure framework for email delivery and reliability. There is nothing at this moment which can excel the security and reliability of Blackberry.

But over the few years, compared to other Phone manufacturers Blackberry have failed to raise any enthusiasm on the Consumer front. Also the infrastructure solution from Blackberry haven’t seen any major innovation or upgrade from what they have started. They have been trying hard to push ahead, but the time horizon that has been projected by them to come up with something new has been longer compared to competitors, who have a recycle period of 6 months on an average. All these factors have triggered a shift in continuing with Blackberry solutions among the current users. On another note, my honest view is Blackberry OS 10 has very promising Enterprise features baked in.

Also Blackberry doesn’t have anything to offer for the current Enterprise users demand on working on Office documents and instant messaging. Their BBM solution is more of peer-to-peer messaging solution which will not work for Enterprises, who would like these to be integrated with their Corporate Directories.

iPhones and iPads

iOS devices currently enjoys a favourable position in Enterprise space. This is mainly attributed by the push or acceptance from top executives, who were either bored by the crude Blackberry handsets or who liked to use their shiny iDevices also at work. This acceptance at the top management and the pressure put on IT departments by the top decision makers started the trend in penetration of these devices with in the enterprise. Still, iOS devices in Enterprise are limited to a creamy layer with-in the hierarchy.

Another landscape where Apple dominates are the startups and technology based organizations who doesn’t want to invest heavily on Enterprise Infrastructure or use their own implementations and want to have a loosely coupled work environment. Over a period of time Apple also supported this trend by improving their support for Microsoft Exchange Active Sync and device security aspects.

Still IT departments are skeptical in accepting iDevices as a replacement for their existing infrastructure on security aspects and control on these devices.

The Future

Another not so significant player is Android. Due to Open source nature and lack of native support of Enterprise exchange policies , they never were in the radar of Enterprise IT. Companies like Samsung and LG have tweaked the OS to in-corporate the same. But on Nexus versions, which offered pure Android experience, this was not supported. So the users have to depend on third-party applications from NitroDesk and RoadSync for this. Haven’t heard any large-scale implementation of these tools at Enterprise level. The usage was limited on the Consumer space, where users like to have access to MS Exchange on their personal phones. Windows Mobile (predecessor of Windows Phone OS) did have these build in but, the lack of acceptance on the Consumer Space and continued support of Blackberry solutions saw hardly any adaptation.

But, this is gone change with the presence of Windows Phone 8. This new revamped mobile OS from Microsoft has started seeing acceptance from Consumers mainly due to the new virgin UI and social media integration. Unlike Apple who hardly had any Enterprise integration other than ActiveSync support, this new OS has the Enterprise Core built-in like its Desktop counterparts.

How?

Now why this could be a threat to iOS and Blackberry on Enterprises?

  • Blackberry is at the verge of being written off by Enterprises soon. To have a blackberry based messaging solution, the overhead is more for IT Department. You need to have a tie up with the Mobile Service Provider, license cost and maintenance of additional servers for this solution.
  • iDevices are still consumer devices at the core. Other than ActiveSync, device encryption and support for Exchange policies, it is still lagging in surviving on Enterprises. Joining a Domain, accessing files server with in the Enterprise etc. are not native to the OS or missing.

Another key factor which cannot be ignored is most of the Enterprises run Microsoft based Enterprise solutions at their organizations. Hardly seen any major shift in this trend.

The lacking from the existing players is where Windows Phone 8 have a niche.

  • To support a messaging solution on Windows Phone 8, IT doesn’t need any extra infrastructure. Your existing Exchange server is more than enough. ActiveSync licenses are part of the deal
  • No dependency on Mobile Service Provider
  • Support for Device Encryption and Security as per Enterprise Policies
  • Tight integration with Microsoft based Enterprise components in the OS. SharePoint for example.
  • Native support of MS Office applications on Windows Phone 8 is another nail in the coffin for the current players on Enterprises.
  • Device Management and Provisioning
  • Can have an Enterprise hosted App Store

The acceptance on Windows Phone or tablets on the consumer front is skeptical. One factor highlighted by analysts is the low App penetration in Windows App Store. But there are other plus points which can influence consumer adaptation. iOS has started getting bored for users.

A fresh UI from Windows Phone till it ages would pull in consumers. Unlike iDevices, you are not locked into an ecosystem.

On the Enterprise it’s a different story. IT doesn’t take decisions on WOW factor and usability.

Their key decision-making parameters are cost and how well they can have integration with their existing infrastructure, which is dominated by Microsoft solutions.

Security and native MS Office are another enablers for voting for Windows Phone or tablets. VOIP solution based on Skype which gives a transparent experience, also cannot be ignored. Enterprises will be slow on migrating to Windows 8 based Desktop and laptops, but there is nothing holding Enterprises from adopting Windows Phone 8, who want to replace the aging Blackberry Devices.

So until Apple comes with its own infrastructure solutions for enterprise and Blackberry speeding up their upgrade process – Windows 8, both Desktop and Mobile will be a threat to both on the Enterprise.

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