Antenna Software CMO Jim Somers: Mobility a “tsunami” for businesses

Enterprise AppsTech had an extensive briefing with Antenna Software chief marketing and strategy officer Jim Somers on the prevalence of bring your own app, who wears the trousers in making big IT infrastructure decisions, and the rise and rise of the enterprise app store

The role of IT in enterprise mobility rollout is changing significantly. With the rise of BYOD, BYOA and enterprise applications, IT departments now have to say ‘yes’ to technologies they’d have given the thumbs down to just a few years ago.

This sort of practice, otherwise known as ‘shadow IT’, whereby systems and software are used in organisations without organisational approval, could become a business booster, according to a recent comic strip published by mobile security provider Symantec.

And Jim Somers (left), chief marketing and strategy officer at Antenna Software, says similarly.

“It comes down to the role of IT knowing they can’t be an enforcer any more,” Somers explained to Enterprise AppsTech. “They need to be more of an enabler.

“IT is recognising that they can’t get in the way and they can’t slow this process down,” he added.

This has been particularly prevalent with Antenna’s business strategy, where Somers notes a distinct consumer shift.

“Historically, Antenna has sold into and been very successful in our 12 year history selling in to business units with very specific process challenges and extending Oracle or SAP to their mobile users,” Somers explains. “That’s opened up from being B2E, which is our bread and butter, to more recently B2C.

“In general, as mobility has become such a tsunami for businesses to address, IT is now saying ‘I’ve got to get in front of this.’ The urgency of apps is being driven on the business side but the real control and management and ownership is still being placed upon IT,” he added.

So with IT now being enablers instead of enforcers, and with the big business execs still needing to make the decisions in a timely manner, there’s a gap developing and, as Somers explains, a new job type fills in the gaps.

“You see now that there is this new role between that is an architect,” Somers says.

“We love in our sales fields to see ‘senior mobile architect’, because that says this company is mature and they’re putting a strategy in place. They are that bridge between collecting requirements and are representing a group of developers, and are also gathering requirements for the organisation.”

The result, in theory, is collaboration between devs who want to use next gen technologies, such as cloud, to speed up development, and the C-level who wants to build apps which will be strong and long-lasting, but also out of the door quickly.

But who has the final say? As a recent Ovum article examined, CIOs are beginning to lose their grip on key IT purchasing decisions, with CEOs, CFOs and COOs becoming increasingly influential.

“It really does vary by company,” Somers noted. “You do see other C-level executives getting involved in the decision, like a CFO; the CFO is seeing the ability for them to get some efficiencies in the business.

“There’s still a lot of early development happening to create that efficiency in the business, and better reuse of existing assets, and of course that’s high on the agenda for CFOs and financial executives.”

Antenna released research last month which showed that one in three organisations have their own enterprise app store – leading to the rise of bring your own app.

And according to Somers, this has contributed to a “backlash” surrounding BYOD.

“It seems like it may be a little too heavy handed for some businesses, to take control of the whole device”, Somers notes.

“You certainly see more of a BYOA trend unfolding right now – things like containers and really separating your work apps from your personal applications is certainly key and an area that we address with Antenna.

“But it’s the merging of management and being able to say ‘we need to build and deploy apps quickly, but we also need to have control and making sure all that data is carefully encrypted and managed’.

“It’s certainly an area that we see definitely taking off – most of the deals we’re in right now is very much around the whole idea of managing applications.”

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