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One of the better holiday concepts from network TV was Festivus in Seinfeld’s Ninth Season Episode “The Strike.”  George’s family’s invention of the Festivus holiday was complete with ornamental pole. “Festivus for the rest of us” was George’s call for holiday equality for every religion or cause during end of year season. 

Mobility Festivus is today’s reality. 

Every business and consumer is mobile all day and everywhere you work, live or play.  During 2013 there were countless signposts to Mobility Festivus. Here are my top Six Poles of Festivus:


      Accelerating Market Adoption at ever y holiday sale, ham and regifting – Apple, Google, BYOD, BYOx, COIT, MAM, EMM, MMO, MDM and MCM too

Just like George spared no occasion to connect with Festivus, nearly every networking, security, software and database outfit in the industry found their boat floating on the rising tide of Mobility.  While some enterprises focused on mobile devices others are focusing on apps and content too.  In fact, Bring Your Own now is marked with an x just like that Festivus anchor spot – BYOx.  Other Festivus pole and garland makers like Apple and Google are looking for their more than fair share of consumers’ $450 billion 2013 holiday shopping budget.  Mobility is not a once a year occasion though as evidenced through its penetration in every socioeconomic group.  In fact many businesses are turning to Managed Mobility to help offset Opex costs while gaining Mobile App ROI like Varian recently discussed here.  SAP customers found that nearly every industry can quickly realize Mobility ROI.  Where will 2014 Mobility trends take us? SAP’s CEO has an opinion to share as does mobile watcher Chetan Sharma with a quick survey here.  Does the Mobility Festivus carry over down under?   Of course it does and mobile apps are big on the holiday BBQ menu there too.

Impressive Market Growth, Festivus Proponents Go Shopping.  Buyer beware! 

No business or consumer can resist a bargain.  With a rapidly growing market each tick towards the New Year means one pure play start up is minutes closer to fall by the wayside according to a recent Yankee industry study.  Even the prettiest UI packaging or exploding feature set will not deliver scalable mobility.  Nor is one mobile point solution the answer to the comprehensive mobile system most businesses will ultimately build to help accelerate their growth.  This Charles Dicken’s Scrooge lesson is most applicable to vendors like BlackBerry who are “suddenly” finding the religion of mobile diversity and trying to offer mobile innovation to actually meet the needs of their multi-OS customers.  Reads like a 50% off after-festivus clearance sale to me.

Mobile App ‘mania, Festivus a go go …

Many businesses are starting their mobile journey by building a mobile app.  Instead of year’s past where IT spent months gathering requirements and even longer compiling code mobile apps are built in a matter of days or weeks.  Forbes notes mobile apps as one of its readers 2014 Mobile Pillars.  Without an app and the associated corporate data most firms will defer the need to proactively invest in security unless they are in a regulated industry like Phillips 66 or others.   Yet another reason to invest in mobile apps is clear to many businesses to consumer (B2C) markets including the Societe de Transport de Montreal  and their 1.2 million commuters everyday with the help of the SAP Mobility team.

Business Mobility Requires a Scalable, Telescoping Festivus Pole

Imagine your favorite Seinfeld Festivus reference and say it very slowly so everyone understands the impact.  Beyond that great Taxi scene, mobility customers also want first hand directions from their peers on how to best implement their mobile enterprise.  IDC offers this comprehensive view from an SAP collaborative study.  But most businesses want to avoid overspending and SAP partner Tangoe has good advice to share on this front.  As the mobile workforce grows employees will want to enter and exit mobility at different on-ramps and off-ramps.  Some may start with a mobile app (and developers can win SuperBowl tickets for their efforts) while others simply want enterprise-grade mobile content management or basic MDM.  Still others will want to “gift wrap” their mobile apps in a FIPS 140-2 app wrapping with the SAP Mobile Secure offering.   Wrapping pairs nicely with the SMP platform mobile app development or for post-purchase app wrapping and subsequent app store distribution.

Size Matters, Experts and Customers Agree

As mentioned early Mobility today is at a critical Festivus mass.  That great point product from a 5 year old innovator worked well in proof of concept but once applied to thousands of mobile devices in concurrent production it melted like chocolate left in a hot car.  Customers should always look to experts and their peers for tried and testing mobility regardless of what on-ramp, app or compliance product they want to deploy.   Another group of experts to pay attention to are the leading analysts who poke, prod and rank leading suppliers of mobile apps by market size, importance and ultimately product adoption.  Others point out that mobility becomes the glue for the “Enterprise of Things” connecting many business processes with powerful analytics that help consumers and transportation alike.

The Revolving Door Exit strategy, a Festivus black hole

Customers and partners are starting to face the mobile facts.  There will be accelerating M&A in mobility during 2014.  Like the many former mobility soldiers now gone at undisclosed pricing, mobility acquisitions and perhaps costly failures are the promised “Ghost of Festivus” future.   Vendor viability will ultimately come down to profitability no matter the sizeable VC investments.  Customer support levels will suddenly change - not for the better - as smaller vendors find themselves squeezed and their partners lacking differentiation.  The larger US telecom suppliers Verizon and AT&T realize this opportunity to build differentiated mobility services for their business customers.  To capitalize these suppliers are accelerating their investment in the mobility trend with the help of larger mobility suppliers like SAP.

Other longer-tenured vendors like BlackBerry appear unlikely to escape the gravity of the mobility revolving door failure field.   A $4.4 billion loss at BlackBerry is the largest recent mobile black hole and experts find it questionable that the firm will find a large enough Festivus pole to climb out.