The Momentous World of Mobile: 4G and Beyond

by John Whaley on November 12, 2012

I just returned from 4G World in Chicago last week, where I participated on a panel on Enterprise Mobility and Wi-Fi Networks: Setting (and Meeting) Enterprise Expectations, hosted by Craig Mathias from Farpoint Group. 4G World has grown far beyond just 4G cell technology. Now the conference addresses network connectivity in general, and the session I participated in was the perfect example. We covered what enterprises expect regarding wireless connectivity, mobile access, and the increasing use of personal devices in the enterprise. Definitely outside of what most people consider 4G, but most companies are focused on the bigger picture: how networks, devices, and cloud will all interact in the future.

The biggest hole in the offering and barrier to adoption of new devices and wireless technology in the enterprise is manageability. Currently, most solutions do not have the right management hooks to be deployed in the enterprise. This is especially true of new devices, where most management solutions are similar to MDM, allowing only coarse, device-level management, which is very intrusive on personal devices. It also does not allow the kind of fine-grained access control necessary to protect the enterprise, while still allowing users to remain productive.

The second biggest hole is connectivity/coverage. Despite the marketing hype disseminated by wireless carriers, there are still many areas lacking network connectivity. And even where there is coverage, the networks are increasingly congested because of the increase of newer devices and applications that require more bandwidth, like streaming video.

One interesting and unintended consequence of the rise of 4G is how it has accelerated BYOD adoption. Consumers and end-users see TV commercials about how fast the new 4G networks are and all the cool things you can do with the new 4G-enabled devices. They say “I want that!” then upgrade their personal devices, which they then want to use in their workplace. The larger the technology gap between what is offered to consumers and what is available from enterprise IT, the greater the pressure to consumerize IT.

In addition to my panel discussion, I attended a few more attention-grabbing sessions, including a panel on Enterprise Mobility and Security hosted by Eric Lundquist. Gary Curtis, Chief Technology Strategist from Accenture, made some interesting points based on his experience within Accenture, as well as advising other companies on consumerization and new technology adoption. He said that BYOD has become essential in the war for talent, and firms that don't allow BYOD are losing talent to those that do.

Most enterprises are way behind consumers when it comes to adoption of new technologies. For example, consider the usage of new data types—mixed media, YouTube, Google, Amazon, and so forth—on the consumer side. Because users have become more sophisticated and aware of these new technologies, they have begun to demand the same capabilities of enterprise IT. And in the vast majority of cases, enterprise IT is ill prepared. Security is a major concern, especially with rapidly moving mobile technologies. Additionally, enterprise IT departments often lack the expertise or skill sets on staff to deploy and manage these new technologies.

I came away from the conference with a lot to mull over. I realized that mobile technology is just exploding, and it is filling my head with creative new ideas and concepts for next-generation products. As the old song says, “We've only just begun.” I look forward to see what happens next.

John Whaley,

CTO,

MokaFive

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{ 2 comments }

David Caddick January 8, 2013 at 1:28 am

Hi John,

It is your point about the second biggest hole that does beg the question how come in MokaFive there is not the ability to sense/check for what bandwidth is available before commencing any Updates to either the Player or the LivePC?

If Customers are embracing BYOD and the Users are using personal pre-paid plans then it would be nice to respect this and only start downloads when the Player senses it has a min. of WiFi or ADSL type speeds?

Just a thought – I have sent through more details to Minh and Burt.

Cheers,
Dave Caddick

John Whaley January 14, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the comment. We know that bandwidth is important for mobile devices and that’s why we have a feature for MokaFive Mobile Suite that will warn the user when they are on a mobile network before they download a large amount of data. On our desktop and laptop products, we’ve done a lot of work to make downloading updates seamlessly happen in the background without affecting user experience or hosing the network connection. We even have customers downloading image updates over 56kbps links to remote oil platforms! Metered connections are tricky though because it is not always possible on a laptop to detect whether there is a metered connection between you and the server – you might be tethering to your phone or a mobile hotspot, which from the laptop’s point of view just looks like a normal wireless connection. You can’t just detect bandwidth/latency because in some cases, my 4G connection is faster than my wired connection at home. In any case, users can always manually pause the download in Player if they know they are on a metered connection and want to conserve bandwidth. We are going to continue to improve the download behavior in a variety of network environments, especially as people are more and more mobile and use MokaFive in more situations.

-John

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