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CIO Review >> Magazine >> April - 2013 issue

The Next Intersection for the Enterprise


As we move into the second quarter of 2013 we are entering into a new phase of enterprise mobility. For many companies, the hype and
promise of mobile devices making an impact to everyday business life is moving from the drawing board to real projects, deliverables
and deployments. Enterprise mobile usage is starting to transition from email and web to deep, immersive applications that shape the way a knowledge worker goes about doing their job. As the market matures, it is becoming clear that we are heading towards an intersection and that mobility is just one facet of a bigger movement.

The intersection is that of mobile, cloud and enterprise applications. In most cases, going mobile requires all of these forces. To understand the need for each force we should first look at what it truly takes to go mobile.

End User Expectations demand a Superior User Experience

Mobilizing a business process can be broken down into three stages. The first stage is expectations, and it begins before the project does. End users are shaped by their consumer experiences. In the consumer world, mobility
represents quick and immediate gratification. The typical user has downloaded dozens, maybe even hundreds, of apps and instantly used them. They never needed training, and never had to wait. Most popular apps are immersive, intuitive and clever.

Move over to the business world, and you will find that IT departments are driven by very different goals. Today the primary concerns of IT leadership regarding mobility are data control, security and scalability. In essence, users are expecting personal applications, but IT is responsible for delivering enterprise applications. That gap in expectations can drastically reduce a project's chances for success before it even begins.

Execution: The Challenge of Mobilizing Legacy Systems

Once the project moves to the execution stage a new challenge begins. Over the past twenty years, organizations have accumulated a diverse set of IT assets that include databases, off the shelf applications, middleware and custom built applications. These assets hold the data and business process that run daily operations. Most assets are legacy and are not built for mobile use. An immersive and impactful enterprise mobile application will need to interact with a variety of back end systems to
help automate daily tasks. To make the back end application useful, these back end systems need to be accessible on the go, over public
network and cellular connections. The integration and security implications often inflate the scope of a mobile application development beyond realistic boundaries.

Delivery and Sustainability: Developing Applications an Inhibitor of Innovation in long term

After the execution phase comes the delivery and sustainability stage. The application that was built now has to make it to end users hands and be maintained for its lifespan. Beyond
the deployment challenges that are being managed by Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions lies a long-term consequence: The average company spends the vast majority
of its IT budget on maintaining its existing systems, with very little allotted to innovation. Each mobile application built and deployed adds two items to the IT portfolio. You get the asset, which is the application, and
its benefits to the business. But, you also have the liability of maintaining that application over its lifespan. Consider a company that builds and delivers five enterprise mobility applications this year. What are they doing next year? First, they need
to maintain those five applications. Then they can use the remaining time and budget to build more applications. Inherently, developing applications is actually an inhibitor of innovation over the long term.

The Intersection