Mobile Enterprise Application Platform Puts Workflow Apps to Work
View benefits organizations can gain from mobilizing their workflow applications process.
The power of mobile devices and the speed of networks on which they operate are only two legs of a three-legged stool of advanced wireless services. The third leg is the general availability of increasingly sophisticated mobile applications.
Mobile apps are exploding in both the consumer and enterprise sectors. Kelton Research, commissioned by Sybase, released research this week that spoke to the growing focus on corporate applications. eChannel Line reports that Kelton found that 90 percent of IT managers plan to deploy new apps this year, and that 21 percent will introduce 20 or more. Almost half think that managing mobile applications is a top priority this year and 82 percent like the idea of hosting apps in the cloud.
Mobile application development and distribution are changing significantly, and many of the intricacies are being worked through by organizations on the fly.
Clearly, enterprise and consumer mobile applications aren't the same-just as desktop applications from the two realms differ. James Robertson, managing director of Step Two Designs, describes the differences. For instance, consumers rarely are asked to log into mobile applications, while enterprises routinely require this action.
The goal, Robertson says, is to design "personal enterprise apps." He lays out six requirements for this type of development, which focus on easing logons, leveraging personal identity-he points out that enterprises know more about their employees than consumer developers know about their potential customers-and on the proactive delivery of information. The bottom line is, however, that designing enterprise applications that are as user-friendly as what can be downloaded from app stores is a tall order.
The entire distribution model could change. Dennis Gaughan, managing vice president at Gartner, discusses the creation of app stores-along the lines of the Apple's App Store and Google Marketplace-for corporate applications. The idea is attractive, Gaughan writes:
Most organizations have more applications than they know what to do with. Wouldn't this conceptual model help us organize, deploy and maintain apps more easily? And wouldn't being able to track downloads and usage help us plan better for the apps in which we should invest more, perhaps even the ones we should be sunsetting? It's a very compelling idea, one that software vendors and service providers are thinking about to help sell more software and/or services.
There are a few challenges to the concept, however. Gaughan wonders how efficiently enterprise app stores can be made to work and if they can achieve the same user-friendliness of consumer app stores. He also asks how deployment would work. Despite those challenges, Gaughan thinks the idea has merit and writes that it "is a topic Gartner will be digging into in much more detail this year, so stay tuned." Gartner is influential, so that is not an unimportant comment.
The mobile enterprise sector is fluid. Mobile applications are proliferating at an amazing rate. The science of optimizing them for safe use in the enterprise is at an early stage. But it is an area in which a fast evolution of ideas and concepts is necessary.