The enterprise-consumer disconnect in smartphones

Consumers and business users have common needs and wants. Business users are choosing their own devices beyond the traditional business smartphones. To capture this business segment, handset manufacturers traditionally focusing on consumers preferences (e.g. user friendliness, "cool factor") have launched enterprise versions, partnering with software companies to enable their devices with business intelligence, salesforce automation or collaboration applications.

Overall, the majority of available smartphones and smartphone OSs can be considered enterprise ready to some extent, depending on individual company policies. Yet, security and support remains a challenge for enterprises

With the growing use of smartphones in the business environment, a complete new network of applications and devices is being created. For example, pico projectors now allow projections from mobile phones. As a consequence, software has become a focus for all players - not only handset manufacturers - as devices need to maintain increasing functionality to perform in this new environment.

From a technology standpoint, application and desktop virtualization will help expand the availability of business applications on smartphones. To that effect, several enterprise software companies have announced the launch of mobile versions of their software platforms.

This shift in paradigm has also created a new battle ground: applications stores. The success of application stores has driven operators, handset manufacturers, platform owners and others to launch their own application stores. Several handset manufacturers have launched their own application stores, and recently 24 mobile operators formed an alliance to build an open platform to deliver applications to any mobile device, in an attempt to emulate the runaway success of existing application stores. Other vendors will partner with operators to provide a fuller offering, integrating devices with operator services.

Mobile information workers will certainly benefit from this evolution. Handset manufacturers will focus more on business enabling smartphones as they will likely drive growth over the next five years. Companies, however, will need to ramp up their support capabilities (such as remote technical support and services) to cater to new needs and security threats.

Guillaume Sachet is ASEAN strategy lead for Accenture's communications, media and high-tech group