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I’ve been keenly interested in the mobile space since Apple release the iPad in 2010. It was undoubtedly the catalyst which launched the market. Perhaps my interest was reactionary to a few comments from Facebook when I said “I don’t care what the blogosphere says, I’m getting an iPad”. Only a year later and the tablet market has overtaken the laptop market. We can now confirm it was a game-changer.

The most painful part of my life during the last 12 months was that I promised NOT to get the iPad 2 as a lenten sacrifice. I almost bought an early Samsung Galaxy Tab as my 4 year old claimed the first device as “my big iPhone” and would not let me have a turn.

Now I really won’t repeat the stats that’s driving business investment into mobility. SAP, Sybase, Oracle, Motorola, Apple, Samsung, Aberdeen and a few other folks can tell you about that. But the simple fact is that mobile devices are now mainstream and it would be quite shortsighted at least not to consider mobility as part of enterprise application strategy.

But the question is how? And what likely trends in technology should influence your decision about a mobility roadmap? There’s 3 considerations I’d like to briefly mention here : Mobile Application Development, Device Deployment and The Changing Marketplace.

Mobile Application Development

Releasing a single mobile application is quite easy. Put a developer with a device and shut the door . He’ll have something for you in three days.

But creating an enterprise grade application is harder as you have to think about connectivity, device support, security, scalability, seamless online/offline use,  logging.

Sybase SUP’s approach of hybrid web containers is interesting. It allows web developers to create applications that get “contained” in native device applications. So the architecture itself is device agnostic. 

There’s always a trade-off between performance and compatibility in situations like these. SUP is no exception but web applications have performed well enough that enterprise applications will not notice the difference.  The enterprise  is unlikely to build “Angry Birds for BHP” anytime soon. There might be a case for “Need for Speed/Hot pursuit for Australian Federal Police” though.

Device Deployment

I think this is quite an emotional topic. Some companies will choose the company-owned centralized model.  The process will feel familiar to most but it is fraught with the dangers of maintenance and rapidly evolving technology. There’s no protection of investment here. 

The industry is realizing that the ubiquity of mobile devices means that we can rethink that deployment strategy. As we saw in market evolution of the iPad. It’s not a laptop.

Another thing gaining talk is BYOD – bring your own device.  SAP long known for using 3 character acronyms has progressed  and is now adopting a 4 character acronym! (A quirky attribute of this mobility gestalt.). The approach ‘promises’ less maintenance costs and leverages user engagement to device use.

Changing Marketplace

Does the Android/iOs/Mango market debacle concern you? Maybe. But it’s a fluid environment. Australian firms are not used to adopting technology that is not quite mature or at least stable.  Australian firms will change here, but any chance they can protect their technology investments – they are likely to take it.

Parting Thought : Mobility can follow the traditional implementation / centralized paradigm.  It can follow the “release often/quick wins” approach. Or the enterprise can choose something in the middle. As with anything it’s not a one-size-fits-all decision. A lot of these will be made in the backdrop of the firms investment and risk profile.  But it’s an exciting place… Mobility. At the moment the name  can also refer to the state of the market.

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