Mobility in business is now a necessity
Don't get caught in the starting blocks
By Ian Thain, senior technical evangelist at Sybase | Techworld | Published: 10:24, 01 February 2012
With the advance of mobile technologies creating converged mobile devices, specifically the Apple iOS-powered hardware of the iPhone and the iPad, we have small yet powerful devices with a big impact in the city. The next wave is already upon us.
The line between private and professional mobile device usage is ever increasingly blurred and that has triggered the emergence of the prosumer evolving from the consumer (mobile enterprise apps are not merely business products but consumer products, too).
Every company now has such employees; those that are skilled in using mobile applications and would love their employers to bring the same experience to the mobile devices that they use daily, thus freeing them to business anywhere anytime. You see, in 2012, mobility is the new real-time systems.
What is needed are professional, consistent and beautiful mobile business applications for the new age and the new worker. New categories of user are springing up, such as the information worker, task worker, field engineer, decision maker, problem solver and service worker. Making your potential users wanting to use your applications is no longer the driving force; it’s the users themselves demanding such applications.
Smart businesses won't just think of mobile applications as extending existing systems, but look at how new systems can free your workforce to create value in a multitude of environments and in more innovative ways.
What makes big companies successful? Other than its skilled people, it is that they have fine-tuned the systems that they use.
So what would a company be without its in-house IT teams? For one thing, it certainly wouldn't be very agile, probably relying on standard off the shelf software solutions. This in turn makes them dance to the tune of vendors, fitting their needs into something alien, or worse still changing ways of working rather than following their own business processes. It's no surprise then that traditionally city companies have enjoyed IT development teams that can rapidly build bespoke top class systems in an agile way.
Company application development and full-time developers have always gone hand in hand, but now is the time that companies should be looking at using those resources to build in-house mobile applications that mobile workers will need now and in the years to come.
A well-developed mobile application can deliver key corporate information to an employee’s devices immediately, that in turn enhance the capability of that employee and give the enterprise a competitive advantage. Already, some companies are offering their internal systems to the mobile worker in the form of holiday management, employee lookup, timesheets, expense capture and submission, travel requests and sales information such as access to CRM systems.
Return on investment can be measured in many ways, as mobility brings huge business benefits such as accelerating business processes, the ability to enable the transparency of business processes with zero latency, giving immediate responses in situations which historically could have taken days.
Think of the mobile device as a building. The taller the building, the more work has gone into the foundations. That schema is the same for a mobile OS such as iOS, and that in turn is where you build upon it with your own mobile applications, as well as using core applications supplied with the device itself.
The mobile device is a tool for the future worker that can be unlocked with the forward thinking and design of bespoke business apps. Having a mobile device and never building corporate apps is like bringing a Swiss Army Knife on a survival trip and never using it.
Great power and access brings great responsibility, so IT departments have the responsibility to ensure that any and all corporate data on any and all mobile devices is secure. There are industry specific regulations that they must meet and follow. This same group is accountable for securing and managing all applications that are in the enterprise, and with multiple device types and various sorts of applications, this is a complex task for many IT departments.