In a new report titled Mobilize Your Collaboration Strategy Forrester outlines its vision for the mobile enterprise, and it all revolves around native apps and cloud providers.

With the numbers of smartphones being brought to work (Forrester thinks as much 18% of the workforce is using their own smartphones for work, but Unisys and IDC indicate that number may be much higher) collaboration apps are more important than ever. Which collaboration apps matter most on a smartphone or tablet?

According to Forrester:

  • E-mail and calendars
  • Document-based collaboration
  • Web conferencing
  • Activity streams
  • Presence and chat
  • Social collaboration
  • Expertise location
  • Videoconferencing

It’s good to see activity streams considered distinct from social collaboration. Companies like TIBCO and Qontext are taking activity streams beyond social.

But the really important thing is that each of these apps perform quickly and with low latency on a wireless network. The new model for working with collaboration apps will won’t be the traditional client/server model, Forrester says. Instead it will be replaced a “mobile app Internet,” illustrated below. Forrester defines the app Internet as “an application architecture of native apps on smart mobile devices linked to cloud-based services that provide a context-rich experience anytime, anywhere.”

Mobile App Internet

This might recall Wired’s “The Web is Dead” meme from a few months ago, but it does seem that this is the model that’s becoming prevalent for enterprise mobilitiy.

Forrester has recommended mobile browser-based applications for internally devloped apps in the past, but it’s clearly bullish on native apps from outside vendors. Just last week we quoted RedMonk co-founder and analyst James Governor’s observation that “From an architecture standpoint it makes little sense for enterprises to develop their own iPad apps – but when it comes to consuming them they’re demanding native from vendors.”

Forrester is saying essentially the same thing: the apps you depend on should be native apps, and the vendors you buy from should support multiple devices. The firm also claims that only cloud providers can deliver on low latency and multidevice support. “On-premises solutions typically can’t handle the low latency, high availability, and any-device requirements of a mobile workforce,” the report says.

So is this what the future of the enterprise looks like? It does seem to be what employees want: good, native apps that just work and work quickly. But is it what IT and other business decision makers want?


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