News From Telecom World

Driving a new wave of mobilised applications and services

Posted on: October 22, 2008

Consumer and enterprise markets are crying out for faster mobilisation of applications, providing a golden opportunity for operators.

In the mobile world, users are the ultimate arbiters of which applications and services are useful to them. Regardless of what is delivered pre-installed on a particular device, users will only embrace and use those applications and services they need and want. Consumers are demanding a more personalised, customised mobile data experience while enterprises are mobilising business-critical applications.

“Mobilise the Internet” is a common theme resonating around the world as mobile operators and service providers promote increased mobile Internet activity as one route to meeting increasingly diverse customer needs and driving new revenue streams.

The flexibility to customise the handsets and services delivered to customers is critical to delivering on this strategy. Mobile operators are working with Internet service providers and others to help them build and deploy new and compelling services — services that can be tailored to the diverse requirements of both consumer and enterprise customers. These services depend on applications, all of which need to be deployed to — and managed on — the subscriber devices.

Management of consumer applications
Until recently, mobile operators have pre-packaged a few selected applications onto the devices they supply. However, a number of factors have restricted this opportunity, including: limited operator control over the handset build; the need to define service requirements as much as 24 months prior to device launch; limited ability to adjust pre-loaded applications or services during the device lifecycle; and the fact that specific applications can generally only be deployed onto a few handset models, representing only a very small proportion of the subscriber base.

The ability to dynamically enable new services and applications on subscriber handsets after they are deployed changes the rules of the game. Service provisioning can be de-linked from the handset development cycle, enabling operators to distribute applications at the point of sale or while the handset is in use. As market conditions and subscriber preferences change, services can be optimised through over-the-air updates to the applications. The usage of services can be monitored, tracked, and used to determine trends and preferences. And most important, application management can be applied to every device in the marketplace, enabling a proactive “push” model for offering new applications and services.

This drives a more diverse set of mobile propositions for users, giving a whole new interactive dimension to the relationship between operators and their subscribers. Service providers can flexibly tailor packages of services to groups of subscribers across device platforms at any point. These packages can be heavily targeted, combining specific applications together with such things as a customised look-and-feel and menu structure.

In addition, application management reinforces the role of the mobile operator as service provider by providing a central point of management for subscriber devices. The operator ensures the device and services are optimised; this underpins a great user experience and ensures that the operator can retain primary control of the mobile customer relationship.

Management of enterprise applications
On the enterprise side, the dynamics are different. The enterprise is mobilising, but until recently, the most commonly mobilised enterprise applications have been a small percentage of corporate email in-boxes and one-off enterprise applications (e.g., CRM) for specific groups of employees.

A more general mobilisation of enterprise applications is underway. One example illustrating this point is a recent forecast from ABI Research that mobile application revenue will grow at a CAGR of over 102% to reach $5 billion by 2012.

To underpin this increasing mobilisation, IT organisations need the ability to manage and secure the mobile environment remotely. Application management is a critical capability, enabling IT departments to support the initial distribution and subsequent update of mobile applications, change application policies and settings, enable application audit and inventory, and provide visibility into the applications and versions on the device when there are problems.

Enterprises are looking for management solutions to support their mobilisation efforts.

A recent survey of top-500 CIOs undertaken by Coleman Parkes indicates a real opportunity for mobile operators. The CIOs surveyed forecast a significant increase in both the number of enterprise users of high-end mobile devices, and a significant increase in the number of mobilised applications. In addition, 92% of the CIOs surveyed reported that they are looking to mobile operators to be involved in the provision of device management and security services.

These findings indicate a significant opportunity for operators to create value-added device and application management services tailored to the specific needs of the enterprise, one of the most profitable customer segments for any operator. Not only does this satisfy a critical enterprise need, it creates new revenue steams while also deepening the relationship between operators and their enterprise customers.

This is an exciting time for the mobile industry. The advanced mobile services market is burgeoning, and long-awaited technologies for delivering and managing mobile applications are now available.

Application management technologies support top-line strategic objectives to expand the revenue streams from new data services and enable a more customised experience for subscribers. These technologies also help strengthen the operator’s service provisioning role. Execution of application management strategies in the enterprise segment will differ from those in the consumer segment. But in both cases, the market is crying out for faster mobilisation of applications and services, and the mobile operator has a golden opportunity to lead and make it happen.

Mark Edwards is CEO of Mformation Technologies.

Source: Total Telecom


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