Gartner projects that mobile application development projects will outnumber native PC projects in enterprises by four to one by 2015, and its 2013 survey of 2,053 CIOs in 41 countries ranked mobile applications as the number two CIO priority after business intelligence and analytics.
Information disseminated by IBM at its March Pulse Conference in Las Vegas indicated much the same. The company reported:
- 77 percent of CIOs supported BYOD (bring your own device) as a mobile initiative;
- 56 percent perceived a broad demand across their organizations for mobile applications;
- 25 percent had plans for deploying mobile apps; and
- 30 percent said that laptop computers were being replaced by tablets in their enterprises.
But the task for IT now becomes more than developing apps and unveiling mobile.
Mobile applications have to be secured, distributed, and managed as well as any other app that exists within the enterprise-and the fact that they are mobile and that employees use a variety of devices and operating systems introduces further complexity.
Here are three key areas that IT should be focusing on:
#1 Mobile application downloads and version control
Many organizations have issued device specifications for end users choosing to use BYOD, but this is still no guarantee that every single version of operating system (OS) for each device will seamlessly interoperate with a mobile application that IT deploys across the organization. Testing apps with different mobiles and mobile OS versions is arduous and time consuming. Just as difficult is maintaining version control over enhancements that are made to mobile applications that must perform seamlessly across the many mobile platforms "out there."
Fortunately, there are vendors that are responding to these challenges-and a variety of mobile app management software is now on the market that will automatically push new versions of apps down to nearly 100 different mobile phone and mobile OS version combinations. The "push" is an automated workflow. In other words, as soon as IT loads the software into a queue, the app is pushed down by the management software to the devices of end users when the users next activate their devices. Since the automation automatically installs the new app version on the device, there is no reliance on the end user having to download or install anything. Commercial software is also available for testing apps against a plethora of mobile/OS combinations that should cover just about every eventuality.
Thirty billion dollars worth of mobile devices were lost around the world in 2011 alone. If IT departments are going to meet their governance and security responsibilities, they are going to need mobile tracking and lockdown software that they can activate from a central data center location whenever a mobile device is reported as lost or missing.
#3 End user experience metrics
Your website end user experience for customers using mobile devices might be great in the U.S. or Canada-but is it great for customers in Australia, Asia or the Middle East? There are tools in the marketplace that can extend your network visibility to the Internet at large. These tools can assess the performance of your apps and your website in the networks of many different ISPs (Internet service providers) and in geographical locations throughout the world. You might not be able to fix all of the issues you find-but you will have visibility of them and of their potential to impact your business-and you also have the power to change your ISP.
Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President of Product Research and Software Development for Summit Information Systems, a computer software company; and Vice President of Strategic Planning and Technology at FSI International, a multinational manufacturing company in the semiconductor industry. Mary is a keynote speaker and has more than 1,000 articles, research studies, and technology publications in print.