A growing number of companies are moving beyond or even ignoring mobile email in favour of mobilising line-of-business applications. In this article, we look at how wireless will change those enterprises.
"When you start rolling out these applications over a wider expanse, the questions become 'how can I lower costs of existing operations' or 'how can I provide new opportunities to grow revenue,'" says Bob Egan, chief analyst with consulting company TowerGroup . "These questions force you into thinking in a strategic mode versus an ad hoc mode."
In a 2006, TechRepublic survey, 370 US IT and business professionals said they were aiming to mobilise the following applications (respondents could pick more than one answer): Intranet access - chosen by 23%; field service/data entry/data collection 21%, personal information management (19%), customer relationship management or sales force automation (16%), supply chain management (12%), and ERP (nearly 10%).
The justification for making these applications mobile is increased worker productivity and efficiency, which was cited as "extremely significant" by 35% of the same respondents. The two other top justifications ("extremely significant") were reduced costs, cited by nearly 30%, and improved data collection and accuracy, cited by 28%. In all three cases, larger percentages cited these justifications as "significant."
Successfully exploiting such applications and achieving these goals requires changes in such diverse areas as employee and manager responsibilities and accountability, network access and authentication, mobile device management, end user and wireless networking tech support, and security and data-protection policies and enforcement.
"If you don't actively manage [mobile] workforce issues, including human resources and psychological issues as well as technology, you don't get the full value," says John Girard, vice president for Gartner. "In the end, the most important parts are the human parts: How do you monitor work, how do you assign responsibility, and do you understand what your team is doing?"
To make this possible, Gartner recommends consolidating an array of mobile provisioning, management and security functions (such as vulnerability assessment, security configuration, standard software image control, security and performance monitoring), shifting routine functions from the security group to the operations group, and forging joint policy development between those groups. One goal of this approach is to minimise the number of individual software products that target subsets of mobility issues but can't share information and aren't part of a strategic mobility plan.