Best for business in 2011

Best for business in 2011

Julien Parven, head of marketing at Daisy
Julien Parven, head of marketing at Daisy Distribution

The past year has seen a massive growth in smartphone development and usage. Here, Heather McLean takes a look at what the mobile channel says are the best devices for business users, and why.

Smartphones have taken off in the business world over 2010, along with business-oriented mobile applications that actually pre-date the consumerfriendly applications synonymous with the exponential growth of the applications market. 2010 saw an explosion in the use of apps and smartphones in the enterprise, with more and more businesses looking to utilise apps to speed up daily tasks.

Jason Kemp, director of marketing at Data Select, comments: “From Data Select’s own information, it’s clear that the trend towards smartphones in both the business and consumer markets is relentless. All ages, genders and social classes are moving towards a smartphone solution. Sales of BlackBerry, Android and Symbian handsets are all leading the charge, along with the iPhone.”

2010 trends

Jon French, executive director at HTC for the UK, Ireland and South Africa, says that business users embraced the consumer trend for smartphones over 2010. He comments: “Business users are people too. They like the interfaces and experiences that you and I enjoy as consumers. They increasingly want a mobile phone that is more than simply a business phone.

“Gartner predicts that by 2014, 90% of organisations will support corporate applications on personal devices, identifying that the main driver will be employees; people who prefer to use private consumer smartphones or notebooks for business, rather than using traditional and limited enterprise devices,” says French. “In the last year we saw this trend firsthand with business users embracing handsets and operating systems that have previously been loved by consumers.”

Julien Parven, head of marketing at Daisy Distribution, comments: “Throughout 2010 the trend continued for business users to adopt more featurerich and functional devices. In recent history, dependent upon the profile of the business user and sector they operated in, less technically proficient handsets were en vogue, largely due to their lower cost and the ability for channel partners to subsidise these fully from their commissions.

“However, led in no small part by iPhone, but also by more advanced BlackBerry and more user friendly Windows Mobile devices, the trend has shifted more towards 3G smartphone devices being the preferred option. These devices offer more in terms of an integrated business solution, being capable of integrating with line of business applications and services and serving previously centrally accessible applications such as CRM, inventory management systems and intranet services to the mobile device,” Parven continues.

Ilari Nurmi, Nokia’s vice president for work and life solution marketing, says that in 2010, more consumers brought their own smartphones to their place of work, and more organisations allowed employees to use their own smartphones to access business data.

Related to that, another rapidly growing trend Nurmi observes was the connection from individuals’ smartphones to enterprise email systems, such as Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes. According to IDC (August 2010), more than 77% of corporates interviewed in a survey used the direct push method, preferring it to investmentheavy and costly middleware. Nurmi states that many of its corporate clients have benefitted in promoting business mobility and improving operational efficiencies by adopting the direct push solution available on Nokia smartphones.

While Kemp says Data Select saw manufacturers integrating social networking, messaging and navigation applications especially with their Android-based devices in 2010. He adds: “The typical business device user, typically used to BlackBerry, moved towards a stylish yet professional looking ‘biz leisure’ device; Motorola Milestone XT720 was a great example.”

 

Top trends for 2011

On the major hot trends for mobile devices aimed at business users in 2011, Nurmi says the following are his top tips: direct access and direct push connectivity to the corporate mail server without the need for expensive middleware; corporate instant messaging and social networking; excellent browsing capabilities on the smartphone; device management; device security, mobile VPN, SSLVPN, hardware encryption; and multitasking and compatibility with leading PBX solutions.

Although largely perceived as a consumer phenomenon, the potential of social networking gaining traction in an enterprise context over 2011 should not be underestimated, states Rory O’Neill, director of solutions and alliances marketing at Research In Motion. “Both the Facebook and LinkedIn applications for BlackBerry smartphones are prime examples of social networking applications which have been built into the wider communications portfolio, offering seamless and tight integration to maximise the end user experience.”

Tablets will also make the break into the business world in 2011, O’Neill states: “Uptake of tablets to date has been solely confined to consumer users, with the current crop of devices seemingly unable to meet the needs of business users,” remarks O’Neill.

“Business users need security, reliability and a familiar platform. The BlackBerry PlayBook aims to break the mould by reversing this trend and offering a device which will appeal to both business and consumer needs. As well as offering a strong web browsing experience, true multitasking and high performance multimedia, the BlackBerry PlayBook will be the first ‘enterprise ready’ tablet. Enterprisegrade security which guarantees the secure transfer of wireless communications will be fundamental in driving uptake of tablet devices in this particular market.”

 

Top business handsets

Increasingly there is no single champion ‘business phone’. Phone preferences for business users vary as much as for consumers. French says HTC is seeing a growth in business demand for touchscreens, yet he adds that some people will always prefer to type on a physical QWERTY keyboard.

“The most successful handsets for business users share common features, such as integration with business systems and the corporate network to allow you to email and work on the move, and additional layers of security to safeguard sensitive business data. The new security services available from HTCSense.com, for example, are proving popular with business users.

“With this service, we can synchronise, backup and store the most important information on your handset. This kind of extended functionality is key for business users. Regardless of which mobile phones are chosen, it is crucial that the business has the right level of technical support at the time of roll out to ensure a successful implementation, and continuing support from there on,” French continues.

O’Neill says the BlackBerry Torch 9800 offers all the tools that business customers love. The combination of a full QWERTY BlackBerry keyboard and capacitive touchscreen allows users to type out messages on either and browse the Internet using pinch to zoom or fluidly navigate with the optical trackpad, depending on preference.

He adds that the BlackBerry 6 OS provides integrated access to instant messaging applications, including BlackBerry Messenger, so it’s easy to talk to keep in touch with colleagues. He adds that the BlackBerry Bold 9780 has built on the highly refined mobile experience that BlackBerry Bold users know and love, delivering a wide range of enhancements as well as coming with the new BlackBerry 6, while the BlackBerry Curve 3G offers the same value and form factor that business customers need, says O’Neill, and the costs associated with the device are well suited to SME users.

 

What businesses are buying

Daisy Distribution’s Parven says BlackBerry devices must dominate the top three mobile devices, with the technology almost a defacto standard for mobile email users and the 8520 being particularly popular as en entry level BlackBerry offering, and the 9300 a very popular 3G device.

“The addition of GPS on the 9300 over the 8520 is a key feature, as is BlackBerry Messenger that has started to gain real traction as communication medium,” notes Parven. “The 3G addition also adds to its appeal, allowing quicker email downloads and web access, bring the speed of a PC to the device.”

Parven adds that HTC has made a big impression on the business marketplace with its HTC Desire and slightly less functional HTC In second place for actual sales at HSC is the BlackBerry 9700 Bold, which Gale calls the premium QWERTY device for 2010. “This has all the functionality of its predecessor, the 9000 Bold, but in a smaller redesigned chassis. The first BlackBerry device to feature a 5MP camera, and the first device to sport the new Optical track pad.”

And third place is the Nokia 6303i, the best selling Nokia device for HSC in 2010. “Popular with B2B resellers as it is a reliable mobile with fairly good functionality at a sub-£75 price point,” remarks Gale. “This level of product is very popular with businesses field workers, who only really need voice, rather than data.”

Kemp states his top three choices for business users are the Samsung Galaxy S, with its four inch Super Amoled touchscreen, Android 2.1 platform and 1GHz processor, with email and free satnav. He rates the Motorola Milestone 2 in second place, a user friendly QWERTY slider with a powerful processor and other features that keep up with every business lifestyle. And third, Kemp recommends the Motorola Defy, with a Corning Gorilla glass display, Moto Blur service that allows messages to be synced, excellent camera quality, Android platform and great business proof smartphone all round.

The actual top selling phones for businesses from Data Select are, states Kemp, the Nokia 6303i, followed by the Motorola Milestone and in third place, the BlackBerry 8520.

 

Best operating systems

Mobile operating systems preferred by business users are diverse, comments French. He remarks that they have a great amount of choice, and that is something that will only grow in 2011. “The Microsoft team have done an amazing job in building Windows Phone 7, creating a deep and intuitive experience. They also retained important features for the traditional business user, such as Microsoft Exchange integration, while further developing important features like Microsoft Office,” he remarks.

French adds: “There is a big opportunity for growth in the business market for the Android platform. HTC has worked hard to ensure all our Android handsets have deep integration with Microsoft Exchange and other productivity features. With HTC Sense we have provided a lot of little innovations on top of Android, such as a unified inbox and fast boot, to help people be more efficient.

“We offer a broad range of handsets across different platforms because we know there is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ phone. The most important thing for a business to do is find the right solution with right phone or mix of phones that best suits their needs. They should experiment with a range of phones and operating systems, and properly consider their mobile strategy before buying into a solution,”he states.

BlackBerry is still the best operating system for business users as it stands, states Gale. He adds that Android is starting to look good for businesses, with better support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync. While IT departments tend to prefer Microsoft products and with Windows Phone 7 being a genuine contender amongst the smartphone elite, we could see that platform steal some marketshare, Gale comments. He continues that iPhone will remain strong throughout 2011, but Apple will need to be careful in making iPhone 5 do the basics well again.

 

How to sell

On major sales opportunities for dealers selling mobiles for businesses in 2010, Parven comments that the main opportunity is in expanding horizons, and for dealers to recognise the power and capabilities of the mobile device in terms of its integration into the wider business functions.

Parven says: “Across both O2 and Vodafone, via their Fixed Line and One Net Express propositions respectively, dealers can leverage the opportunity of the mobile deployment by starting to penetrate the landline environment and consider the natural integration and interaction of the environments.

“As well as this serving to increase retention and limit customer churn, there are additional bonus and revenue opportunities that can be unlocked, plus placing the dealer on the first rung of the unified communications ladder and in prime position to capture a greater share of the customer’s purse once additional services such as business broadband are made available to the indirect channel. This consultative approach also opens up the opportunity for partners to develop a suite of revenue generating applications and third party solutions,” concludes Parven.

French says dealers should focus on three areas. The first is offering business users a diverse range handsets. “It’s no longer appropriate to label phones as a consumer or business handset as they can be attractive and functional on both levels,” he comments. The second area is delivering on the specific business needs involved in developing a mobile strategy and answering the needs and concerns of the IT manager, and the third is communicating the added value that manufacturers are working hard to provide, like after sales technical support.

“That is why we recently launched HTC Business,” explains French. “It is a division dedicated to supporting smartphone use within the business environment. This team of experts provide organisations with ongoing advice, support and additional resources, to help companies of all sizes find the right platforms and handsets for their individual needs. This is the kind of support we feel our business customers want.”

Dealers will need to look at value added services for which they can maximise margins on with their client’s connections in 2011, says Gale. “Products that include Cloud-based services, which allow small businesses to move their back office systems into a secure hosted environment, will be key, allowing everyone in the business to access and manage data remotely from anywhere in the world.

“Other opportunities will include mobile landline, which helps create the look and feel of a larger business with area offices, and making the business landline numbers contactable on the move,” continues Gale. “The easy option is of course tariff bolt-on’s for extra data usage when resellers are signing or resigning their client’s connections. In 2011 we will probably see the highest increase on Mobile data usage than ever before.”

2011 is about more sales for dealers, states Kemp. “The hardware opportunity for dealers is to migrate customers to smarter and more expensive handsets. This will naturally lead to higher tariffs, ARPU and therefore more dealer revenue. In addition, accessories are still an under-indexing opportunity,” he notes.

While Nurmi remarks: “As the trend towards using one’s own smartphone to connect to the corporate inbox grows, overall cost, security of the network, and management of the growing fleet of mobile devices all become increasingly important. However, direct access mail drastically reduces the cost of setting up and maintaining servers, and when implementing a business mobility solution, security and reliability are top considerations for IT decision makers. Also, businesses need to be able to control the mobile devices accessing corporate data and make sure the business’ security policies are observed.”