Everyone agrees that we need a Mobile application running on a Mobile device like PDA, Laptop or any other device. The simple reason is that every company has a workforce which is always on the move (whether it’s a Sales or Service Representative who travels as part of his / her daily work or an Executive who travels as per business requirements but still likes to be in touch with things back in office) and they need some data while on the move and also a means to record transactions without going back to office.
But the question is – which Mobile application to select? Or to go a step behind – which Mobile Device to select in the first place. There was a wonderful discussion on the same topic at the BPX Forum at SDN Clubhouse, SAP TechEd, Bangalore. The discussion was moderated by Sudhir Krishna of SAP Labs India. I have tried to put in some points which I remember from the discussion.
The first question is – does my company need a Mobile application at all? This is very important because a business enterprise does not have to invest in a Mobile application just because someone else is doing it or for any other comparable reason. The current business process followed as well as the changes which might happen to the business process should be considered before taking a decision on whether to implement a Mobile application or not. Even if the decision is not to implement a Mobile application now, but to implement it later this should be factored in while designing the rest of the applications so that the Mobile application can fit smoothly into the landscape later.
After the decision is made to go ahead with a Mobile application, the decision is to decide which one. The Mobile devices range from the bulky (!!!) laptops to the sleek handheld devices. Which device to select depends on the planned investment, the nature of work done by the users, the level of business functionality to be present etc. On another level, the decision should be taken on whether to go for a connected application or a disconnected one. The difference is that the disconnected application has all the logic in the Mobile device itself and uses a local database (which can be synchronized periodically) to store the data. Both the decisions – device and connectivity – are linked. It makes sense to have a disconnected application running on a laptop and a connected application on a handheld device based on the factors we saw above.
Very broadly, the following are the questions one should ask before making a decision –
1. Do I need a Mobile application?
2. Which device should I use?
3. What should be the connectivity of the application?