It’s a rather dreary day here today in Boston. My desktop weather widget is telling me that it’s pretty gray out there. It makes me think about how enterprise mobility is an area full of gray….and in fact, there are few, if any places within our space that are black or white. This whole notion of grayness is best manifested in my opinion when we talk about “enterprise readiness.” I’m thinking about this term as I see articles and documents that either support or refute the “enterprise readiness” of the Windows Phone 7 platform.
So let’s ask the question point blank. Is Windows Phone 7 “enterprise ready?” My college and graduate school training in economics provides me the perfect answer. It depends.
It depends on whose perspective you are looking at. From the employee’s perspective, I will argue that Windows Phone 7 is absolutely “enterprise ready.” You’ve got access to your Exchange email, you have your Office Hub to view attached documents and you even have SharePoint integration. Ya, ya, ya, there’s not cut/copy/paste. I say big deal. For all the kvetching that people had when iOS didn’t have it, how much do you *really* use it on your iPhone? I never did…I never really had the need for it.
Some people have made a fair and justifiable argument that none of the legacy applications for Windows Phone 6.x are compatible with the new platform. InformationWeek blogger Eric Zeman states here:
“Out of the gate it will support the basic, core Microsoft lines, including Exchange and Sharepoint. But that’s about it.”
- So it will support/be integrated with Office, Exchange and SharePoint. Last I checked, those were three of the most important and often used application sets in the workplace. Seems like a good start to me….
- Incompatibility with legacy applications. That’s a GOOD thing, in my opinion. The old architecture isn’t good enough for today’s modern mobile workforce in terms of functionality and usability.
- For all the talk of mobile applications, are we there yet? Not really. Yes, there are many CRM, SFA, ERP applications available and there are several noteworthy MEAP vendors that help your organization mobilize applications and/or tasks, but the reality is that the overwhelming majority of people are still just using PIM functionality.
- For those organizations that have legacy applications on Windows Phone 6.x, I am fully cognizant of the fact that you have a choice before you. Stick with the old platform or port to another platform (including Windows Phone 7). That’s a real (financial) drag, but there’s nothing else that can be done really. That’s the price of evolution.
Zeman goes on to say:
“At first, we will see the adoption of Windows Phone 7 is similar to the way iPhone entered the enterprise. Employees will be buying them on their own, with their own money and then they will attempt to link it in from the backend.”
I think Microsoft would be elated (imagine Ballmer doing cartwheels while screaming “Developers! Developers! Developers!“) – and the world shocked – to see Windows Phone 7 adoption similar to iPhone. What did Apple have, 14 million devices shipped last quarter alone?
Not all things are rosy though.
From a mobility management perspective, Windows Phone 7 is clearly a v1 product. Microsoft has provided support for some of the policies available in Exchange 2010 (such as remote wipe and lock), but not all of them. ETA on when we’ll see an update with full policy support? Who knows.
But even if Microsoft were to support all 50+ policies…and I fully expect it eventually will…is that enough? Microsoft didn’t think so last go around when it had SCMDM for Windows Phone 6.x. So as I think back to the previous missive, what is Microsoft to do? Will it provide multi-tasking capabilities such that a mobility management vendor can create a background monitoring/control tool or will it go more the route that Apple has gone down in providing a set of APIs that vendors can access. How will the platform be secure enough for HIPAA, FINRA, TJC and any other three or four letter industry compliance? When is this all going to happen?
Who knows. To quote Hamlet: “Aye, there’s the rub.”
So do you think Windows Phone 7 is enterprise ready? What does that term even mean (to you)?