Enterprise Mobility, Part I

Introduction

Business organisations have spent their energies on leveraging mobile devices for delivering businesses value for over a decade now. Initial mobile apps were simple SMS based apps running on feature phones. Some organisations even had custom-built POS (Point of Sale or Service Devices) fitted with mobile sim card and running simple new business or payment collections apps. Easy to carry, Mobile devices were and are seen as a very potent device in the hands of customers or mobile employees engaged in sales and customer service activities. Self service apps running on mobile devices can deliver instant gratification to customers and improve productivity of mobile employees. Despite the advantages, enteprise mobile apps did not see as much popularity or serious thought amongst corporate think tanks, as early mobile technology posed challenges in terms support for multiple OSs, user experience and device & data security.

Organisations started thinking seriously about mobile apps after the launch of iPhone in 2007 and particularly in 2009 when Android based smart phones started becoming popular globally. Smart phones allowed organisations to build apps with rich user interface leveraging data connectivity. The corporate mobility initiatives received a real impetus in 2010, when iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab was launched. Tablets overcame the limitation of smaller screens issue that smart phones posed and are light & rugged enough for mobile employees to carry them along with themselves. I implemented one of the early large scale mobility initiatives for an insurance company in India, one of the toughest and challenging assignments of my career.

Most critical success factors (CSFs) for the successful implementation were completely non technical such as CEO sponsorship & support for the project, CEO driven Change Management within the organisation, Big bang implementation approach, An incentive programme for the users, and a Support Center to monitor the application utilisation & provide technical support. However, technical design & architecture and technology selection & implementation approach were perhaps the most critical factors for successful implementation of the project. Some of our technology design and implementation choices were very deliberate, while others were based on our view about the future of mobility.  In the following blog entries I’ll focus on the technical aspect of the enterprise mobility initiatives discussing questions such as:

  • How does one Define Enterprise Mobility Initiative?
  • What should be the approach to implementing Enterprise Mobility Initiative?
  • What critical business/ technology requirements that enterprise mobile apps need to meet?
  • What are various mobility platforms such as MEAP, MCAP, MADP, MDM, EMMS?
  • What are the architecture components of Enterprise Mobility Solutions?
  • What OS should the mobile apps be supported on?
  • What is the right mobile app: Native or Hybrid?

While I pen down my thoughts, it would be interesting to hear your views. Do share your experience. Also do not hesitate to write to me in case you have questions or need clarifications.

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