January normally brings a tidal wave of predictions from industry analysts. I’ve produced my own set, some of which were published on Networking Exchange. As we move into March, you should have an action plan that your company can execute against to improve business.During my Mobile Research Council webinar in February, I suggested there are four areas that a business must work on in 2014 in order to be successful.  While each of these items deserves a blog post of its own, I’ll describe the main themes here.

4 Enterprise Mobile Prescriptions For 2014_Full_3 14

1. Build, understand and prioritize the app portfolio.

Companies need a formal strategy for designing and deploying applications. The original apps should fit an identified need and provide a quantifiable business return if possible. In prioritizing apps, it’s important to remember that not every application will offer a great mobile use case. For example, designing advanced 3D renderings is an important app in manufacturing but it still makes more sense to do this on a laptop than a smartphone. Once you’ve prioritized the quick wins that can provide ROI and improve a business process, IT and business leaders should look for ways to build new and innovative processes. This is where prescription number 2 fits in.

2. Understand how context impacts the app agenda.

Mobile provides a wide range of contextual data such as location, motion, and environmental conditions like temperature and humidity. Most applications and business processes weren’t designed to include context as a set of data inputs. As a company builds new applications and workflows, it should look to incorporate context into workflows. Early examples of this include the use of location in field service and logistics applications. Today, location is being embedded in applications such as customer relationship management to help with directions and trigger events such as logging a visit.

3. Define your integration strategy.

Mobile applications and processes will require access to back end systems, such as ERP and financials. Businesses will need an API and middleware strategy to extract data from these systems. IT can either purchase and install API and middleware solutions or purchase a cloud-resident platform that is called Mobile-Back-End-As-A-Services (MBaaS). The choice will depend on the types of back end systems the business needs to integrate with and which deployment (cloud, on-premises or hybrid) model the company is comfortable with. It’s also important to note that mobile applications will require offline access and synchronization services.

4. Create repeatable standards for mobile security.

Security still tops the list of issues that halt mobile adoption. A company needs an enterprise mobile management strategy and tools that defines a way to secure and manage the mobile devices, application and content.The company should design an end-vision of security profiles and controls required to support IT needs with input from the business teams. It needs to balance security with end user control. IT should deploy security decisions in phases based on use case prioritization, maturity of business use, and business unit requirements.

A business will be well positioned to adapt to marketplace changes if it executes on these four areas. Which areas will you focus on in 2014?

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Maribel Lopez is the CEO and mobile market strategist for Lopez Research, a market research and strategy consulting firm that specializes in communications technologies with a heavy emphasis on the disruptive nature of mobile technologies. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.