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4 Ways to Tell What Your BYOD Mobile Device Landscape Looks Like

Comic strip courtesy Copyright Scott Adams.

Is your enterprise or department ready and prepared for the next suite and portfolio of mobile apps? Are you ready to take your department beyond the mail and calendar app on the device? You are chomping at the bit and would love to get your enterprise on-board the mobile apps train.
But hold on! Do you know if your department or enterprise is ready to embrace this challenge? How do you know if your employees are mostly on Apple devices or Android devices? In case of Android, which devices are most common in your company? Do you need to worry about Retina screen readiness?
How about the OS versions? And should you start worrying about Windows phone and tablets? You hear Blackberry is coming out with a new OS as well? Should you take that into consideration?
A while back, I was sitting in a conference room with a potential client who had an ambitious agenda to embark on building mobile apps for its enterprise. But one question was unanswered, “what did their mobile device landscape look like among thousands of its internal users.”

Someone from the client team boldly proclaimed “most of our users are on Apple devices and we should worry about them first”, while others huffed and puffed at this line of thinking and considered Android users to be equally represented.
At the end of the day, the client decided to pursue a cross-platform strategy that was built around being available on both platforms from day 1. But this decision was not based on knowing its own users first.
Could the strategy have benefited from knowing the landscape better? Could the development and QA efforts have been more effective, if they knew the device and OS landscape better?
Before embarking on a mobile app effort, most organizations can quickly run the Mobile Device Landscape Check to see if your department and enterprise is targeting the right devices and OS versions that are most important today and tomorrow.
Here are the four avenues to explore as part of your Mobile Device Landscape Check:
1. Internal Website Analytics: If you have a website or internal web app, try to glean the analytics from their usage to see what percentage of traffic is coming from the mobile devices. What is breakdown of the types of devices based on the traffic sources?
2. Corporate Internet Network Usage Analysis: If your employees are bringing in devices into the enterprise and connecting to the corporate WiFi network, analyzing its usage can reveal information of what types of devices are being used and with what frequency. Contrasting these numbers with regular desktop connectivity usage figures will reveal if your workforce is ready to embrace more enterprise mobile apps.
3. Corporate Email Usage: If your enterprise is on Microsoft Exchange, you can mine the statistics to check how much of the emailing, both receiving and sending is being done via mobile devices. If you find that mobile devices are being actively used to communicate via email, your department may score of mobile-savviness of the users already.
4. Employee Survey: Focusing the survey to determine the current mobile device landscape? What devices do the employees own? What devices are they most likely to upgrade to? Typically it is tougher to get high degree of participation in voluntary surveys, but regularly sampling your employee audience can help you understand their device adoption trends.
As you can see, there are multiple points of tracking the analytics to determine, how your workforce is using mobile devices. Coupling these analytics with meaningful surveys on purchasing sentiments, will help fine tune your enterprise mobile app development strategy to focus on the right set of devices and OS version combinations.

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Amit Malhotra

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