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Event in Brussels Highlights Changes to Field Mobility

I have just spent 3 days at a very successful IQPC end-user event in Brussels. The format of the show is unique in that it is designed as a heavily-vetted, match-making service between CIOs needing mobility solutions and a select set of relevant vendors keen on providing them. In the past, the Enterprise Mobility Exchange focused mainly on field mobility in utilities, telco and transport-logistics verticals, but this year the cross-section of attendees and speakers from an array of sectors and technology domains powerfully demonstrated how the world of enterprise mobility is not only changing, but opening up as well.

Field mobility is the old guard of enterprise mobility. It is in this tranche of the enterprise where hard business process enablement, productivity gains, cost reduction and real strategic dependency on mobility occurs. But as in the wider enterprise, today, new consumer-friendly form factors, location technologies and demand for mobile applications are forcing IT departments to look much wider than a siloed set of point solutions when crafting their mobile workforce strategies.

We had great speakers from British Airways, Philips, Sainsbury's, Parcelforce, Virgin Media, DHL, Fed-Ex and Vattenfall to name few, all of whom shared war stories in deploying mobility in their firms. I have summarized some of the key highlights discussed from the conversations at the show below.

1. Rugged Devices Moving to Android - The question on everyone's minds was: "Is Windows Mobile dying?" For a category heavily reliant of Windows CE/Windows Mobile devices, it was clear that most OEMs at the show couldn't wait for their introduction of rugged Android devices later his year.

2. Device Management Now Critical - MDM is playing a pivotal role across the wider enterprise in terms of smartphones and tablet security and management but it is also critical in field mobility as well. Companies like SOTI and Sybase had customers demonstrating how MDM delivered device and application visibility as well as proactive BI & analytics for customers.

3. Mobile Apps - There were several software players on display promoting their mobile solutions, including the likes of SAP, Sky Technologies, TOA, Syclo, Ventyx and Click Software . The audience seemed very keen to find out how the MEAP space will shape up and if focused players can scale across the wider enterprise as well. Two interesting anecdotes emerged from the app discussion. One customer said they invested heavily in UI/UX design right from the start of deployment in order to ensure user acceptance. Another said it launched its B2C app across all major smartphone platforms earlier this year and had to do a major update to the app every 26 days in the early lifecycle of the launch.

4. End User Involvement, Deep Understanding of Process and Change Management Crucial - Time and time again each CIO stressed the importance of end user buy in, a focus on process (not technology) and change management right from the beginning design phase of the projectwere crucial to successfulmobility deployments.

5. New Technologies - New technologies such as Geo-Fencing, m-paymentsand NFC were also on the minds of many in the room. Both are set to transform fleet management and customer facing verticals such as utilities and transport & logistics in particular in the near future.

Although this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what was covered, all said and done every delegate I spoke with found the event very valuable. Personally, I have much to digest after just having arrived back in London from Brussels, but I am already looking forward to next year!

For those of you in the US, there is a similar event Enterprise Mobility Exchange event in Las Vegas later this year, with companies like Ford, GE and Fedex all set to share their experiences.

You can follow the Enterprise Mobility Exchange Twitter Conversation from the event this week: @mobilityxchange.

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