Gartner has listed tablets and mobile-centric applications as the top two technology trends for 2012, stating that The implications for IT is that the era of PC dominance with Windows as the single platform will be replaced with a post-PC era where Windows is one of a variety of environments IT will need to support.
CIO magazine says: Mobile applications must be as effective as their desktop and notebook counterparts. Getting mobile right requires a broad range of device support, a central point of control, a wide security net that ensures corporate data is never compromised, and the ability to shield end users from integration complexities.
The term mobile now encompasses such a broad range of facets that it has become a subject related to the underlying IT architecture of a company, thus representing challenges for both IT and business, who need to work together to maximise efficiency, adoption and return.
The following are three common and basic challenges explained in simple terms:
- The choice of mobile devices for employees
- The management of the mobile fleet
- The choice of application development tools
1. Choice of mobile devices data security
Implementing a coherent policy for mobile phones and tablets is a major concern, as the choice has a direct impact on data security.
Should employees be allowed access to systems using their personal smartphones? Should the company provide separate smartphones to its employees for business purposes? If so, can we and should we allow employees to use these smartphones for personal use as well, without compromising data security?
Several factors need to be analysed in order to make such decisions, such as:
What type of smartphones/platforms can the IT department manage? iOS? Android? Windows Phone? Blackberry? Even though other mobile platforms exist, the trend leans clearly to these market leaders. Even if Microsoft is a little behind at the moment, the teams in Richmond are working hard to catch up.
What kind of devices are your employees using already? Adoption is a key factor. The mobile trend is completely driven by consumer behaviour.
The choice of a mobile fleet management tool also has a huge impact on the choice of devices. Ive gone into more details in the next point..
2. Mobile Device Management
Commonly known as MDM, this is the corner stone of a corporate mobile policy. Its through this solution that we can manage users, access to application, configuration, loss, theft, etc.
How to make the choice?
Go through a proper analysis phase. There are a few major players in this domain, as well as some very interesting niche solutions (refer to Gartners Magic Quadrant). In seeing the numbers of big players who are racing to offer these solutions, there is no doubt that the future of MDM is looking bright, and choices will open up even more.
3. Developing Applications
The move to mobile in the enterprise will be boosted by the use of tablets, and users will want an increasing number of business applications to run on these devices. Will you develop web applications or native applications?
How will you develop a corporate strategy that dictates the choice of development tools?
From my perspective, companies should be pragmatic:
- What kind of resources do you have internally to manage the development life-cycle? How will you train them?
- How do you choose suppliers who have mastered this domain?
- How to deal with the pro/perso concern?
In conclusion, defining a mobile policy should be taken seriously, as it will have a real daily impact on life within your company. Enterprise mobility is the biggest single trend across tech industry investment and innovation, even outpacing the cloud computing trend, states the Forrester report entitled, "Another Year of Outperformance for the Tech Industry -- Forrester's 2011 Tech Industry Predictions." Analysts predict that by 2014, the primary method of accessing the internet will be through mobile devices, which will increasingly replace the traditional desktop.
The risk of not having a solid corporate strategy could be costly:
- Disruption of business processes: The functional failure of IT systemsof which mobile apps are now solidly included.
- High cost: An ad hoc approach to building out the mobile application architecture will eventually result in time-consuming, manual intervention to maintain.
- Lack of business agility: A poorly planned mobile architecture that cannot support dynamic business strategy shifts can hold the entire business back.