When most IT vendors talk about mobile computing, they tend to emphasize that these new classes of devices are meant to augment rather than replace existing systems. And yet, as devices such as the Apple iPad continue to become part of the enterprise landscape, it's becoming pretty evident that the people who have these devices are using them all the time, both inside and outside the office.
This trend has some significant implications for how enterprise software is going to be consumed in the future. Far too many enterprise applications don't wind up getting used all that much simply because the user interface is cumbersome or it's simply too time consuming to take the trouble to fire up the application on a PC. But with the advent of the tablet PC, that data is not only the flip of a finger away, it's also presented in a way that makes it easier to absorb.
The one application area where the adoption of tablet PCs could have a profound impact is business intelligence (BI). For years, providers of BI applications have struggled with end-user adoption, largely because the folks most inclined to use a BI application were already heavily invested in spreadsheet applications. But with the rise of the tablet PC, we're starting to see a much broader range of business executives taking an interest in accessing BI data via their tablets.
None of this is lost on companies such as Oracle, which this week became one of the latest providers of BI software to support the Apple iPad. A new Oracle Business Intelligence 18.104.22.168 release not only adds support for the Apple iPad and iPhone, it includes a series of dashboard templates that are designed to allow IT organizations to set up workflows that can be initiated via a mobile computing device accessing Oracle BI software, which is, in turn, integrated with a suite of enterprise applications.
According to Paul Rodwick, Oracle vice president of product management for BI software, Oracle expects that BI software on mobile computing devices will significantly increase the usage of enterprise applications across the board, which has some significant implications for IT managers in terms of not only how to provide access to these applications, but also the sheer amount of IT infrastructure that will be required to support that increased usage.
Given the interconnected relationship between everything in IT, it's impossible for there to be a major event in one sector that doesn't have a profound impact on another. In the case of mobile computing, we're just starting to see what that impact might be, and given the number of devices that are already in the hands of end users, the effect of mobile computing on the enterprise looks to be quite substantial.