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Top Mobility Trends in 2012 – Part Two: Telecom Expense Management and Mobile Apps

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In a guest post last week, Kitty Weldon, principal analyst for Enterprise Mobility Services at Current Analysis, offered her predictions on the iPad and BYOD. In the second part of our series, Kitty now shares her insight on mobile apps and telecom expense management.

While smartphones and tablets are becoming “must haves” for all mobile workers, how will enterprises keep telecom expenses in check as remote workers rack up increasing data and voice bills?

Telecom Expense Management (TEM) solutions have been available from platform vendors and their service provider partners for a long time to help optimize voice and data plans and show usage patterns. There were indications in 2011 that WiFi and “FMC” solutions, which can route mobile calls over wireline networks or WLANs, are finally gaining traction.  Companies such as iPass and initiatives such as HotSpot 2.0 are making the WiFi experience more consistent and readily available, so that roaming employees can save money (on both voice and data) without the hassle of finding and paying separately for access to public WiFi hotspots.

AT&T just announced that there were a billion connections over its US and global hotspots in 2011, with a 350% increase in connections from the previous year. Even though the EU is mandating caps for voice and data roaming charges, there is more work to be done in 2012 (including the continuation of global partnerships such as the Freemove Alliance) to ensure that international travel does not negatively affect mobile budgets.

Mobile apps are all the rage for consumers, and often of great value to businesspeople as well.  We asked Kitty for her thoughts on HTML5 Web apps, vs. native apps vs. hybrid apps; enterprise-developed apps vs. outsourced development vs. mobile application platforms/MEAPs.

When you compare approaches to app development, the lower development costs, larger target market and easier accessibility of HTML5 web apps are often contrasted to the potential for deeper integration with native enablers and other applications on a particular device platform. This debate will only get hotter in 2012, as mobile apps for the business sector become a focus of hungry developers looking for the next “new” market and hungry service providers looking to further monetize mobility services.

Once apps are developed using these approaches, they still have to be delivered and managed on an ongoing basis. Now that everything can be delivered from the cloud, there are choices to be made between enterprise server-based and hosted mobile application services that may leverage Mobile Enterprise Application Platforms (MEAPs).

The rise of the enterprise app store was also a big theme in 2011. A number of MDM providers are making basic app store enablement part of their platforms, but service providers are also developing (or accruing through partnerships) sets of horizontal and vertical applications (generally offered as a service) that may only require slight customization. This enterprise app store evolution will continue in a big way in 2012.

Read more about Kitty’s outlook for apps and TEM in her report, “Enterprise Mobility Services: Top Ten Trends for 2012,” available from Current Analysis. Next in part three: Kitty shares her predictions on Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications.

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