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This article continues our blog series that will offer the four critical mobile capabilities we at SAP recommend you consider. Last week we covered the crucial capability to be able to deliver secure, scalable and reliable solutions.  This is important to make sure you have bullet-proof solutions that will always be available and scale with your organizations needs.

In this week’s focus, the second critical mobile capability recommended is the ability to easily develop and configure applications.

Since mobile apps are meant to closely match the users’ workflow and data capture needs, they need to be easily configurable to accomplish this —  both at the time of deployment and when user feedback starts coming in. This has to do less with the application itself, and more with the provider’s configuration toolset. A software vendor’s ability to modularize the mobile app and make quick pointed changes to it without manual coding or affecting the rest of the application has a deep impact on user satisfaction and your costs of ownership.

For example if you choose to develop your mobile application yourself, try to do it using standardized tools that make it easier for your future solution administrators and developers to hit the ground running. Automatic documentation tools that capture application changes and the rationale behind structures and relationships among components will save much time for developers who are new to your project.

Moreover, your mobile solution will need to evolve for both “push” and “pull” reasons. On the “push” side, your devices may become outdated and will need to be replaced, new regulations may get enacted that mandate new processes and data capture requirements, and so on. But what will probably happen even more quickly is you wanting to change your solution — whether to support new devices and connectivity methods, roll out new applications and functionality or modify your application to better suit the tastes of users in the field. In a typical implementation, a quick period of initial resistance from your workforce is followed by a never-ending stream of demands for new tools and features once the value of the mobile application sinks in.

Also try to select a mobile vendor that has a good track record of keeping up with the latest advances in mobile devices, operating systems, peripherals and networks. A large customer base is usually a good gauge of broad technology support, as customers are the ones that usually drive this process. (Also, keep in mind that statements like “made just for you” and “made for hundreds of our customers just like you” often carry vastly different price tags.)

As you can see, most of our advice urges you to – when at all possible – select a solution today that will work for you when everything changes tomorrow. You can’t have all your bases covered (nor would you agree to pay for a solution that did), but selecting a vendor that can deal with the most probable events in the technology landscape or your business changes will prove to be most cost-effective in the long term.

So to summarize, the first two critical mobile capabilities you should consider are:

  1. deliver secure, scalable and reliable solutions
  2. easily develop and configure applications

In the next blog article, we will cover the rationale to have cost-effectively support for a variety of devices.  Until next time!

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