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Enterprise Mobility has long been viewed as synonymous with large enterprises. SMB-sized customers were viewed as lacking the need or sophistication required to run a scaled out mobility infrastructure outside of a few key vertical industries like Banking/Finance. In the past, enterprise mobility was centered on-premise deployments, notably BES (Blackberry Enterprise Server.)

With the advent of the iPhone and BYOD, this changed. Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) vendors emerged, offering smaller business customers a cloud-delivered service that could provide basic device management capabilities for Android or iOS devices. From this came the idea of mobile-first, which centers on an organizational-wide deployment of mobility-related capabilities that drive the overall business.

Now, mobility is driving cloud infrastructure service providers to offer customized app-centric experiences to business users, regardless of company size. Hosted cloud infrastructure, either as multi-tenancy or virtual, private single tenancy can be utilized as a primary way for many SMBs to interact with their mobile apps. At the same time, these service providers are encouraging developers to use those platforms to develop specific use-case apps, often in a mobile context.

I expect that as these trends play out, competitive advantage, regardless of company size, will require the ability to consistently utilize a highly customizable experience in real-time to drive business value. Because service providers are committed to the cloud hosting and app delivery, SMB-sized customers engage with these firms more easily than ever before. This means that app access across any endpoint, mobile or otherwise, will be as applicable to a 100 employee firm as it will be to a 5,000 firm. Still, service providers will have to find the right mix of efficient volume delivery and cost-effective analytics-driven customization to ensure long-term competitive advantage, and an SMB customer strategy will be required for anyone in the enterprise IT market.

Chris Chute is a Vice President with IDC’s Small and Medium Business Practice, providing strategic guidance to IT vendors and buyers regarding the development and deployment of cloud and mobile IT solutions. Mr. Chute’s research often centers on market disruption, such as the impact of hosted applications and infrastructure on small and medium business IT consumption, and howBYOD has reshaped IT policy requirements. Follow Chris on Twitter: @chrischute


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