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November 11, 2007
How Can Enterprise Mobile UC Applications and Mobile Operators Benefit From Google’s Android Mobile OS?
Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View
Everyone with an interest in mobile communications is talking about the Google announcement this past week of its Android open source mobile OS. An “open” mobile OS can open the doors to not only increased consumer usage of different types “smart phones” for multimodal information access, personal contacts, and entertainment needs, but also to support enterprise-controlled mobile business applications (especially Communications Enabled Business Processes or CEBP) for their increasingly mobile employees, business partners, and, of course, their mobile customers.
Unlike Apple’s iPhone announcement at the beginning of this year, which highlighted the iPhone’s beautiful design and form factor to attract consumers, Google aimed at the software infrastructure that will support ANY device design and mobile application that a consumer might want. This leaves the door open for both handset makers and application developers to compete with their own creations for the personalized needs of individual users. Such needs, however, may well be for business usage that must interoperate with enterprise applications.
The U.S. Wireless Carriers – A “Fly in The Ointment?”
My first reaction to the open source approach at the OS level was that it could help lower the costs of both mobile multimodal devices and network services across the board to expand usage in both the consumer and business markets. I also suggested that because the flexibility of adding personalized user applications can add more usage revenue to carriers and service providers, coupled with the potential added carrier revenue from advertising on the smart phone visual interface, the Google announcement would help remove or minimize the traditional “walled gardens” of the wireless carriers. Freedom to access enterprise-controlled applications will be critical to support business users who will want a single, multimodal mobile device and access service for both personal and business use.
Skeptics voiced concern that the wireless carriers, who get most of their revenue directly from individual subscribers, will still “lock up” any phone device that uses the Android mobile OS, in order to control their traditional consumer service offerings. However, because many of those same subscribers are also business users, their multimodal capabilities must really support enterprise UC applications. So, not only will carrier restrictions on mobile devices be disturbing to consumers, as already reported from AT&T’s iPhone experience, but they also stand in the way of carriers generating more usage revenue from mobile business applications that demand device independence. That’s “Cutting your nose off to spite your face!”
Exploiting Multimodal Smart Phones For Mobile Business Users
IP telephony developments have already introduced the notion of mobile phones being able to exploit premise-based wired VoIP and Wi-Fi connections, as well as cellular services from wireless carriers. With capabilities first demonstrated by Avaya with cell phones from Nokia and Motorola under the label of “Extension to Cellular,” what is now referred to as Fixed Mobile Convergence allows business users to use their office number and PBX features from their cell phone, while their personal cell phone number still provided direct access for personal calls on the same mobile device. In addition, cellular connections can be automatically switched to a lower-cost Wi-Fi connection when in range of a premise–based Wi-Fi Access Point (AP) or femtocell.
Now that the mobile communication stakes have jumped up from just voice calls to multimodal communications and business process applications, its time to reconsider the role of mobile devices for both consumer and business UC applications. This is necessary not only to provide personalized flexibility for all individual user communication needs, but also to separate the technology responsibilities of the enterprise for business communications from the particular multimodal mobile device (and network service) that an end user chooses for both personal and business accessibility.
Mobile Enterprise Applications – “Join Them, Don’t Fight Them!”
Inasmuch as the carriers have always wanted to get “wholesale” group subscriptions from the enterprise markets, the software move into open mobile device operating systems can enable enterprise-controlled software clients to share a subscriber’s mobile device. On the other hand, enterprise organizations always want to maintain security control over access to their applications and information from mobile employees, as well as over their business usage charges. With a mobile OS on the device that supports multiple software clients controlled by application servers belonging to either the mobile operator or to an enterprise, everyone, including the individual end users, can be satisfied.
So, with recent consumer FMC announcements from carriers such as BT in the UK and T-Mobile and Sprint in the U.S., combined with the flexibility of new, multimodal mobile devices and mobile operating systems, the path to converged, but manageable, business and personal communications looks promising. This trend will be further reinforced by consumers who bring FMC into their home environments through services like HomeZone from Wanadoo.
What Do You Think?
So, what do you think will happen will mobile devices and services at this point in the UC enterprise evolution game? Will business organizations follow the lead of their Web experiences or stick with traditional wired, premise-based telephony thinking?
You can contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or .
My Take on Microsoft’s Approach to UC Migration
I authored a recent white paper describing UC ROIs and practical approaches to enterprise transition planning that highlight Microsoft’s UC product positioning for simplifying the challenge of evolving to UC. Rather than start with replacing existing wired desktop phone systems, the UC evolution can start with adding IM/presence management, unified messaging, mobile devices, and IP softphones. You can download a copy of the white paper by going to the UC Strategies web site at:
You might want to now consider the impact of Google’s mobile OS move upon Microsoft’s UC strategy. Microsoft UC applications can still play nice with devices that exploit open Android OS capabilities.
New UC Blogs at UC Strategies.com
Check out my contributions to the new UC Blogs on the UC Strategies web site, where it will be easy for you to put your two cents in on the controversial issues facing enterprise migration to UC. Remember, UC is NOT just about telephony or person-to-person communications!