Consumer-driven mobility has led employees to rely increasingly on mobile devices for business purposes. A significant volume of business communications is now conducted on mobile devices, but the lack of integration between mobile networks and enterprise IT systems means mobile and traditional business communications sit side by side, with IT managing them as separate entities. This scenario creates technical limitations that impact the user experience, leading employees to find alternative services for real-time, peer-to-peer communications. This, in turn, opens the door to privacy, compliance and security risks. In this report, we look at how cloud-based, mobile-native communications is influencing the emergence of second-wave mobility, and the implications this will have.

The 451 Take

The capabilities enabled by integrating business communications with the mobile network address key limitations in consumer-driven mobility that result in a poor user experience and open the door to privacy, compliance and security risks. The impact of mobile-native communications, however, goes beyond addressing the limitations inherent in consumer-driven mobility. The capabilities allowed by second-wave mobility are critical for enabling a distributed work environment, which is a central element in how we envision the future of work.

First Wave: Consumer-Driven Mobility

User behavior has been a key factor driving the use of mobile devices in the workplace. This defines what we identify as first wave, or consumer-driven mobility (Figure 1). We trace this back to the late 1990s with the launch of BlackBerry's first device, an email pager called the BlackBerry 850. Eight years later, in January 2007, Steve Jobs announced the iPhone at the Macworld convention, and in July 2008, Apple introduced the App Store. At launch, the App Store boasted 500 apps including RingCentral Mobile, a mobile app for RingCentral users that extended the virtual PBX service to the iPhone, enabling access to voicemail, dial-by-name directory, click-to-call, call forwarding, answering rules and call screening.

  • Mobile has become the norm for personal and business communications
Consumer-driven mobility has resulted in employees increasingly relying on mobile devices for business purposes. A significant volume of business communications is now performed on mobile devices, but estimating how much traffic mobile devices have displaced from traditional business communications is not a simple task. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that many devices and applications are outside the scope of IT and, therefore, nearly impossible to track. Furthermore, in many cases, mobile devices are being used for use cases that are not currently addressed by existing business communications products.

However, the growing relevance of mobile devices for business communications is undeniable. 451 Research's Voice of the Connected User Landscape provides evidence that employees are relying on mobile devices and applications to communicate with each other and with clients, partners and suppliers. Survey results show that nearly 70% of respondents use a smartphone – either personal or provided by their companies – for business purposes. Of those users performing work-related activities on a smartphone, nearly 50% report doing so daily. Survey results also show that 84% of mobile users in the US use messaging services for personal purposes. When it comes to business use, 73% of respondents report using messaging on their smartphones for business purposes – more than email and voice calls.

  • Consumer-driven mobility reflects limitations in enterprise communications
Consumer-driven mobility has been effective in terms of placing mobile devices in the hands of employees. Enterprise mobility, however, has not changed significantly from its early days. Unified communications (UC) providers usually include mobility as a standard feature in their offerings. Their approach is typically based on a mobile app that loosely connects mobile devices to a company's UC network. While this setup provides some benefits to the end user, it also has fundamental limitations stemming from the lack of integration at the public switched telephone network (PSTN) level.

These limitations – including quality of service and messaging capabilities – have a direct impact on the user experience. This results in employees relying on cellphone service for voice calls, and SMS and over-the-top (OTT) consumer messaging apps for real-time, peer-to-peer communications, which highlights the gaps in enterprise communications tools. Furthermore, the use of mobile devices and OTT applications opens the door to privacy, compliance and security risks that IT decision-makers did not previously have to worry about within a closed environment that is fully controlled and managed by IT.

Second Wave: Mobile-native Communications 

First-wave mobility has not displaced traditional business communications – i.e., UC, desk phones, conference phones and email. Rather, the modern work environment has evolved to include both. Mobile communications and traditional business communications typically coexist, with users relying on each for different purposes.

451 Research contends that second-wave mobility is now emerging, driven by mobile-native communications. In contrast to consumer-driven mobility, mobile-native communications allows full integration of business communications with the mobile network, enabling private and secure wireless and mobility models such as private LTE (Figure 1).

  • Key players
We believe that mobile-native communications is becoming a distinct category in the business communications space. We have identified several vendors in this emerging segment. They include Metaswitch, which recently launched a new product family called MaX that enables mobile network operators (MNOs) to provide multi-persona team-collaboration products. Quobis offers the Sippo Web Collaborator, a WebRTC-enabled UC suite that provides features such as video conferencing, call recording and screen sharing.

In February, Mavenir, a provider of digital communications services for MNOs and enterprises, launched mUCC, a mobile-native 'unified communications as a service' (UCaaS) offering for MNOs to target the small office/home office and SMB segments. Mavenir's mUCC aims to differentiate its offering by addressing the limitations in conventional UCaaS products, leveraging the mobile network to provide features such as voice over LTE and rich communication services for instant messaging.

Earlier this year, Tango Networks announced new cloud-based mobility services that aim to fill the gaps between consumer-oriented mobility and the advanced business features needed by enterprises. Its Kinetic Communications platform provides a single point of management and control that integrates business-grade, mobile-native communications with an enterprise's UC system, fixed telephony, call recording systems and business applications. The platform provides a set of connectors and APIs that enable enterprises to integrate mobile voice and messaging in real time with applications, workflows, and management and compliance systems. This provides IT with visibility and control over mobile communications in the same way it controls landline communications and enterprise applications. The company also recently launched a mobile virtual network operator service to expand access to its cloud-based Kinetic platform services that enable enterprises to control mobile data.

  • Implications of mobile-native enterprise communications
As previously noted, mobile-native communications is influencing the emergence of second-wave mobility. Its distinctive features center on the capabilities enabled by the integration with the mobile network. Integration of business communications at the PSTN level enables organizations to convert mobile devices into a mobile endpoint on their UC networks. This allows them to manage mobile services to their employees and enable all the features from their UC system on their employees' mobile phones, including enabling control from the mobile phone's native dialer and phone number. Users cannot circumvent policies or compliance enforced on the enterprise network. Similarly, enhanced native control over mobile data services and the applications using them can bring added security and compliance benefits to the enterprise.

Other benefits of mobile-native enterprise communications include capabilities for recording text and voice for regulatory compliance, integration with business applications for automatic logging of mobile calls and texts into customer relationship management and workforce optimization applications, and dual identity management to enable separation of work and personal communications on mobile devices.

Mobile-native Communications is Key for Enabling a Distributed Work Environment 

We believe that the impact of mobile-native enterprise communications goes beyond addressing technical limitations in consumer-driven mobility. Mobile communications and cloud computing are enabling new work arrangements including remote workers, mobile workers and gig economy workers. This reflects a fundamental shift in how we organize work: the conventional office and 9-to-5 work arrangement are giving way to a distributed work environment. This is defined by the technologies that come together to enable IT to provide employees with secure, real-time access to business applications and resources, regardless of their location or the device or network they choose to use. The capabilities enabled by second-wave mobility are critical for enabling a secure, distributed work environment, a key component for how we envision the future of work.
Raul Castanon-Martinez
Senior Analyst, Workforce Collaboration and Communications

Raúl Castañón-Martínez is a senior analyst based in Boston focusing on business communications and collaboration technologies such as enterprise messaging, voice, bots, speech recognition and unified communications.

Brenon Daly
Research Vice President

Brenon Daly oversees the financial analysis of 451 Research's Market Insight and KnowledgeBase products, having covered more than a quarter-trillion dollars' worth of deal flow for both national publications and research firms.

Partick Daly
Analyst, Information Security

As an Analyst in 451 Research’s Information Security Channel, Patrick Daly covers emerging technologies in Internet of Things (IoT) security. His research focuses on different industrial disciplines of IoT security, including the protection of critical infrastructure, transportation and medical devices.

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