It is 2013 and many are predicting that this year will bring standardization to mobile technology and infrastructure. Many companies and businesses have implemented mobile 1.0 technology, conducted mobile 2.0 pilots and even deployed a handful of consumer and business apps. Some have even built mobile device and application management into their practices. Whether you are an innovator, early majority or laggard of mobile technology, you need to consider an integrated mobile infrastructure to execute against your mobile strategy today with support for a mobile environment that will grow and change.
Let’s begin with thinking about a user. Consider a typical worker who performs various mobile business activities in the course of a day. This worker will use a smartphone, a tablet, or both to check e-mail, sign off on a document in a workflow, and check a customer’s purchasing history during a sales call. This same worker will then submit an expense report, check a budget, review real-time sales analysis results, scan a bar code, view a live presentation, engage in collaboration activity, and fill out a form.
It is important to note that any or all of these mobile activities can happen on a single device. The same activities can also happen on multiple device types such as smartphones, tablets, and PCs, giving the worker the option of choosing the device that is most convenient at the moment he or she is performing the task. Regardless the device type, business and consumer activities can and do happen anywhere. Users can engage with their mobile devices to perform this work in the workplace, at a customer location, or even purchase an item at a café.
Imagine if the applications that a consumer uses to purchase an item at a cafe was directly linked to another process like bakery inventory from a supplier or a marketing promotion tracking consumer behaviour. I realize that you may not run a cafe, but use this as an example along with this image when thinking about the potential of integrated mobile applications.
There are 4 fundamental functions of a mobile infrastructure that support integrated mobile apps:
- Total operational integration – Integration means that mobile devices and apps can share data with corporate back-end data systems. However there is more to it than that. Integration also means everyone in the business ecosystem – employees, contractors, vendors, partners, and even customers have potential connections to corporate data. To manage this, an enterprise mobility management (EMM) system must be able to manage different levels of access in a highly secure way.
- Security – This is more than user authentication on the mobile device. It is also end-to-end data encryption, certificate-based application sign-on functionality to back-end data systems, and usage monitoring at the device level.
- Application development, provisioning, and maintenance – A mobile application development platform and EMM suite enables low-cost development of high-performance apps that are portable to all devices. It simplifies application deployment and maintenance so that there is minimal need for IT support and no work disruption. Such a platform lowers app development management costs, which makes the depth and breadth of mobility in the enterprise totally scalable.
- Broad device support – To accommodate new and changing mobile technology, an EMM solution must support all devices and device types.
It’s a new year for mobile with great opportunity. I suggest that you ask yourself ‘how could my business benefit from integrated mobile apps?’, and ‘what information would my operations or sales team benefit to learn from another set of users like consumers or suppliers?’ and start designing your mobile strategy with the potential of integrated mobile apps. Have fun!