IT organisations need to embrace mobile development, deliver private application stores, and embrace their deployment on consumer devices. But in doing so, they need to manage security, ownership and deployment.
Corporate users are “buying devices and bringing them into work in increasing numbers, which is accelerating corporate adoption”, according to research by Forrester and Barclays' analyst Ben Reitzes (link).
To build a coherent mobile strategy that will support the business, IT operations need to review some recent and significant mobile market developments along with some important business realities.
According to data from Aberdeen Group, about 75% of enterprises now have "bring your own device" policies in place. This leaves IT departments with a dilemma: embrace, control or restrict these devices' business usage.
PCs today still require a fair amount of skill to handle for a user. Why should the typical non-technical user have to know about defragmentation, registry cleaning, anti-virus tools, firewalls, bios settings, ram, graphics cards, and partitioning.
One key ingredient shared among the new mobile devices is low maintenance compared to PCs. Tablets and phones typically adopt a much simpler, lower maintenance solution for the user in both hardware and software terms. This range of devices is increasingly spilling over in PC territory, in terms of business IT functions and capabilities.
Powerful consumer-driven devices such as tablets can replace many functions traditionally the domain of PCs
The mobile market is a consumer-driven market, built on the principle that users don't have IT departments to provide them with technical support. Users in this consumer-driven market want intuitive and reliable devices. The consumerisation of IT devices will require IT organisations come to terms with the fact that soon they may start deploying business applications through applications such as iTunes.
Stephen Herrod, chief technical officer of VMware, said that "bringing consumer life to the enterprise" would be the defining IT trend in the near future.
Gartner predicts that by 2014:
* All smartphones will transparently synchronise local data with at least one cloud service.
There are two primary ways to make applications mobile - via a browser as a simple Web application, or as a native application, deployed onto the mobile device's operating system. Browser solutions are relatively easy to develop - the main issue for developers is one of simplifying the information to fit into the limited real estate of the mobile device.
Native applications, unlike browser-based solutions, can integrate into the phone to be continually active - for example, able to push information to the user if an event occurs - in much the way that e-mail on a phone currently works. Browser solutions cannot do this - the user needs to browse to the application for the application to become active.
"Native mobile applications are today less complex and time-consuming to develop upon and deploy to than in the past. Consider that:
* Many of the development frameworks have consolidated and simplified to support multi-phone development. Mobile development has also moved into mainstream IDEs such as Eclipse, NetBeans and Visual Studio.
Business should consider development on four major platforms - Android, BlackBerry, iPhone (and iPad) and Windows Mobile. Native applications should be built as small fragments of larger systems – quick to develop, but part of an integrated and managed approach. Typical examples include simple approvals extracted from existing systems, or notifications, or simple name lookups, for example, from a CRM system.
IT departments need to make guidelines that can be seen as supportive, not restrictive. IT operations should support and guide consumer device business usage in the organisation.
The ease with which cloud applications and packaged solutions can be acquired is compelling for business. Business units will be continually tempted to adopt easily acquired, rapidly deployed, turnkey cloud-based applications, and so IT organisations must gear themselves to support easily acquired and implemented cloud and packaged-based mobile applications.
IT organisations should look at deployment policies in three areas:
2. Mobile development and deployment
Mobile devices encourage small, focused applications that are targeted and complementary to existing systems, and increase the accessibility to and value of business applications. IT departments need to guide and support the deployment of these applications to ensure they are secure and managed to be part of a sustainable mobile application environment.