Ten years ago, everyone expected mobility to take off with advocates lauding the advantages of field service and sales over mobile. But a number of obstacles thwarted adoption. The infrastructure just wasn’t there; network connectivity varied and we needed mobile platforms capable of managing applications over the air and of compensating for any loss in connection.
Another limitation was the handsets themselves in terms of both their processing capabilities and the user experience; no one wants to use an app unless it’s visually interesting and intuitive. And finally, there was the concept itself; what could mobility be used for?
It’s only in the last six months that enterprises have started to ‘get’ mobility. Yes, most deployments have started with the field service or sales teams, providing realtime updates direct to ERP, SCM and CRM systems, but nobody wants a ‘stranded app’ whose only benefit is to mobilise one department.
Increasingly, enterprises are looking at the bigger picture of how apps can be used across the organisation to inform management decisions and make the business more responsive. The use of mobility as a worktool is growing, with IDC in its Worldwide Mobile Worker Population 2009-2013 Forecast predicting that more than 1.2 billion people, that’s one third of the world’s workforce, will be mobile by 2013, creating a real opportunity for enterprises to work more dynamically.
Unshackle the employee
Yet these days, mobility isn’t just about unshackling the employee; its promise lies in connecting the enterprise with everyone it does business with, from suppliers to partners to consumers.
We carry our mobiles with us everywhere and it’s this ubiquity that could see us on the verge of a technological revolution to rival that of the internet. The pervasive nature of mobile promises to connect us like never before, provided we can avoid the pifalls such as the temptation to clone desktop applications as mobile apps or simply restrict mobile apps to being a conduit for data. Apps have to be cut free of the enterprise to realise their potential.
Innovative organisations are moving beyond tactical mobility to strategic mobility in order to connect with all of the users that make the business function. This strategic mobility entails looking at both employee and consumer-focused mobile initiatives that enable people to interact with the business, as executives, professionals, partners, customers, patients and guests, using device agnostic apps, context and location-aware services, and role-based access, for instance.
The people with the power to really drive strategic mobility are the operators. In these uncertain times, enterprises cannot afford to divert their attention away from their core business but they need the means to roll out enterprise-wide mobility simply, cost effectively and with the ability to scale.
Service providers can help enterprises deploy a strategic mobility project by providing a mobility service that can be integrated into the organisation’s existing arsenal or that they can take as a managed service. Telecom operators, for instance, can use a mobile platform to build a unified ecosystem to deliver high-value apps to business customers and their end users, with the platform binding the whole together.
Communications service providers need to step up to the plate and begin to think innovatively about offering a joined up enterprise service. Enterprises can then begin to use mobility to grow their business, perhaps even devising their own apps, in turn helping to bring about economic recovery.
We may no longer dream of flying to work or holidaying on the moon but I’m willing to bet we’d all welcome the opportunity to both work and consume more flexibly when and wherever we like.
With over a decade of operating experience and proven, award-winning customer deployments, Antenna is the largest, independent mobile enterprise solutions provider in the world. http://www.antennasoftware.com/
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