Enterprise Mobile: Our latest step and where we’re going

We just released the latest version of our Social Sites app for Windows 8.1. We’re excited to be able to take advantage of some of the cool integration points like live tiles and search. Since the Social Sites app is meant to let you keep up with your colleagues, communities and key information, it makes total sense to leverage these built-in capabilities. You can learn more about the app and download it here.

Releasing a new mobile client at this time of year gives me a nice little mental nudge to talk about the bigger picture of enterprise mobile. We did a ton of work on mobile this past year. We released two cloud-based services (a secure mobile tunnel service and a push notification service), we did several major updates on the clients, and we integrated with a few different Mobile Device Management (MDM) systems. To top it off, we acquired Sitrion which has very cool mobility platform called ONE.

The world of mobile goes quickly, though, so instead of dwelling on what’s been done, it’s time to look ahead. To do that, we need to talk about what enterprise mobile really means. Years ago, we used to think that if we built a native app to run on a smartphone, we were basically done with our responsibility of delivering mobile social to our enterprise customers. If you look at this from the customer point of view, delivering mobile to the enterprise involves many different parts.

Here’s a quick overview of what we think enterprises need to be successful with mobile:

  • Distribution – getting apps to users as well as initial configuration
  • Security – secure access to internal systems
  • Management – controlling behaviors or experience
  • User experience – UI, configuration, notifications

Each of these areas is actually quite significant by itself. Distribution might come via downloading from an app store, but a company might want a branded experience. Security typically involves work and decisions at the network and server level as well as specific capabilities in the client. Enabling push notifications is not just a setting on a server – it will almost always require a cloud-based service to respond to the different smartphone vendors (e.g. Apple sending unsubscribe messages).

As customers work through all of these areas, they have to consider many different systems and use cases. We have seen customers who have built over forty different native apps. We have seen customers pursue an all-html and mobile browser strategy.

We have customers running basically every major MDM or MAM (mobile access management) solution. From a strategy point of view, we know that we need to find ways to work in all of these different scenarios.

As we look forward, our vision for mobile is all about being easy and effective. We think customers will want a simple solution for end users – a solution where end users won’t have to maintain many different apps on their smartphones to do their different enterprise tasks. At the same time, it needs to be a solution that is flexible in the functionality delivered to each user while still being intuitive. And, of course, it needs to fit into the enterprise security framework. This isn’t a pipe dream, we’re actually doing this today. And we’re looking forward to expanding on this in 2014.

Today, we’re really happy to have a great new Social Sites client released for Windows 8.1. In 2014, we’re looking forward to supercharging mobile across our enterprise customers.

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