Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Enterprise Mobility – It’s Real and It’s Happening Now

For years, social, political, and economic commentators have talked about ‘the mobile revolution’ as if it were a distant asteroid hurtling through space on a collision course with planet Earth. “When it eventually hits us, the impact will be massive!” they warned.
According to this view, like the asteroid that hit in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula some 65 million years ago, causing the demise of the dinosaurs and more than 70 percent of Earth's living species, the mobile revolution will soon strike the world of communications, media, and business information. Any enterprise that is unable or unwilling to change is destined to meet the same harsh fate of rapid extinction.

However, in reality, the mobile asteroid has already reached Earth; it just hasn’t exploded in a single cataclysmic event as expected, but instead has rained down as a prolonged meteor shower. A wide variety of personal and business-related activities have gradually migrated to mobile in recent years. As the number of smartphones on the market increases exponentially, so too does the number of mobile apps that can be installed on them. From the simplest of information services to the most sophisticated interactive games, from basic text messaging to dynamic social media, mobile devices are being used in ways that could only be imagined as science fiction just a few years ago.

One area that has so far avoided the full force of the impact is the world of enterprise. There has been an understandable reluctance to adopt the mobile approach due to concerns about security, cost, and functionality. Many companies fear that their sensitive data would be exposed to a range of malicious attacks if transmitted over mobile networks. They are also intimidated by the prospect of having to develop multiple mobile versions of core back-office systems to support the ever-increasing number of mobile operating systems and device types, with all the recruiting and training, planning and developing, and deploying and maintaining involved in the process. Even if they could absorb the enormous cost of going mobile and endure the ensuing disruption to their core infrastructure, many express severe doubts that enterprise mobility could function on a practical level due to the inability of mobile devices to support heavy enterprise applications.

The good news is that these issues have now been addressed and resolved. The latest generations of smartphones have the required processing power, memory capacity, and high-resolution displays to support even the most advanced enterprise systems. Moreover, developers can today deploy business applications that can run on any smartphone with no need for multiple development efforts or additional resources. Security concerns have also been allayed, as the latest mobile application platforms support encryption of transmitted and cached data, robust user authentication and roles assignment, and work over secure layers to ensure no reduction in security as compared to desktop applications.

Most importantly, mobile users themselves are now not only ready to accept enterprise mobility; they are beginning to demand it. At a time when they use their smartphones for so many of their everyday, routine activities, such as making phone calls, taking photos, listening to music, reading emails, scheduling meetings, surfing the Web, and navigating journeys by GPS, mobile users find it frustrating and unreasonable that they cannot perform mission-critical business tasks in real time from their mobile devices.

Like modern birds, commonly believed to be the surviving descendants of the dinosaurs, enterprises must adapt to the mobile revolution by sprouting virtual wings and breaking free from their on-premise, desktop mode of operation. Millions of people around the world are making the transition to mobile, some taking their first cautious flights outside the nest, while others are already soaring through the skies.

Enterprise mobility is real and it’s happening now. Like so many other technological breakthroughs, the mobile revolution presents both challenges and opportunities. Enterprises today have an excellent opportunity to embrace this change by implementing an effective mobile solution that will move them far ahead of their brontosaurean competitors.