I recently met with rock star CIOs at a conference focused on enterprise mobility. Here's a snapshot of what I learned:
The mobilization of the enterprise and the productivity enhancements that come with it is akin to the societal changes brought to American life by Henry Ford's assembly-line manufacturing process.
The idea that Millennial workers are driving the creation of bring-your-own-device policies is hogwash. Most of the CIOs I spoke with said it's senior executives, as in the CEO, looking to leverage mobility for top line growth, increased customer and employee satisfaction, and better productivity.
There's an operating system shake-up coming. The consensus I'm gathering is that Apple iOS and the Android OS will win out. Few had confidence that Research In Motion's BlackBerry OS would survive. There was more hope for the Microsoft Windows 8 OS, but Nokia is perceived as a weak link there. All these platforms will hang around your enterprises for the next two years, at least, and the hope is that HTML5 adoption will help CIOs navigate this sea of OS fragmentation.
If you happen to have a great mobility app developer on your team, give them whatever they want. There's a significant shortage of great app talent, and the talent wars are coming to your neck of the woods soon.
Many CIOs I spoke with said having an infrastructure optimized for mobility was increasingly being viewed by job prospects as a reason to select your company over your competition.
Don't be misled. Mobilizing your core business applications is hard, but the market is going to see real progress with moving core business apps to mobile platforms in the next two years.
And like you really need to hear this nugget: Mobility ROI is hard to prove. Good advice here: deploy, measure, get consensus, repeat.
Bottom line: It is not a question of if your firm will fully embrace mobility, but when. If you sit on the sidelines, you will be out of business within three years. Likewise, if your deployment plans are too timid, that is a prescription for corporate irrelevancy with customers and prospects.
The boldest plans are always the surest. My advice, as you finalize your 2012 budgets, is when it comes to mobility, go all in.
Gary Beach is the publisher emeritus of CIO magazine. Email him at email@example.com.
Read more about office applications in CIO's Office Applications Drilldown.