Smart mobile strategies curb wasteful IT spending

Mobile spending is expected to increase substantially in the coming years, but organizations need mobile strategies to prevent unnecessary costs.

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Without proper mobile strategies in place, organizations run the risk of overspending.

Where IT can get in trouble with mobile spending is by approaching it as they would a leaky pipe.

"When you fix a leak, you don't replace the entire pipe," said Jack Gold, an IT consultant and founder of J. Gold Associates in Northborough, Mass. "Unfortunately, with mobile, IT has tended to just fix the leaks as they happen, instead of looking at the big picture."

Putting our head in the sand won't work.

Todd Tew,
senior sales engineer, Weidenhammer Systems Corp.

Mobile affects every aspect of an organization's IT infrastructure -- most notably infrastructure upgrades, support costs and new initiatives -- because it's the most important computing change to businesses since the days when organizations switched from mainframes to the client-server model, Gold said.

The reality is that over the next twenty years, existing applications and services will have to be overhauled to work for mobile devices, said Maribel Lopez, an enterprise mobility consultant at Lopez Research.

Organizations are just beginning to understand this, she said, whereas the transition toward a flexible and distributed infrastructure through the use of cloud technology has been underway for several years now.

"Oddly enough, I've seen more companies not spending money on mobile efforts because they don't know where to start," she added. "However, once they start, it's really easy to lose budgets to disposable spending because there was no plan in place."

Further, the shift to mobile computing gives IT departments the chance to become a strategic partner with the business side of the company after years of having the not-so-fun task of keeping the lights on. But that means developing a mobile enablement plan for the company, she added.

For example, not every organization needs mobile device management (MDM), but there's a good chance MDM's hype has caused more than a few organizations to unwisely spend money on that when they really needed mobile application management, or even nothing at all.

Maybe the DevOps team built existing applications to work on mobile devices when the ISV could have simply provided them. Or, perhaps a senior executive forced IT into rolling out a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiative without thinking through whether or not BYOD fit with the overall business strategy, Gold said.

Companies with comprehensive mobile strategies are in a better position.

"Putting our head in the sand won't work," said Todd Tew, a senior sales engineer at Weidenhammer Systems Corp., an IT solutions provider based in Reading, Pa. "The solution isn't to say 'no,' but to come up with a mobile plan."

Even though mobile has increased in importance for organizations over the past few years, and will grow in importance in the years to come, many organizations are just now starting to move forward with their mobile initiatives, said John-David Lovelock, an analyst with Gartner Inc., a Stamford, Conn.-based research firm, and who presented his research on mobile's impact on IT spending during a July webinar.

Mobile devices will account for 83% of annual spending on client devices by 2017. Software and IT services will be the two areas of IT spending that reap the biggest reward from mobile with projected growth of 7% and 5% respectively, over the next few years. Software includes cloud apps such as Salesforce.com and Google Apps, but also mobile management software; IT services include Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service and Mobile Backend as a Service, according to Gartner's webinar.

All other areas of IT spending should have flat growth or decrease in the same period.

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