Enterprise Mobility – Key Things to Consider When Pursuing Mobility Implementation

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting a webinar with Jeffrey Hammond, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research and Rohit Sharma, Global Head of Mobility at Virtusa.  The topic was “Overcoming Challenges in Early Stage Enterprise Mobility Programs”.  This post is a short synopsis of the webinar.  For those who were not able to attend the session, you can view it here.

The webinar started with Jeffrey Hammond reflecting back to the early 1980’s with the introduction of the personal computer.  He offered his observation that many IT organizations are reacting to mobile devices and smartphones today in the same way IT organizations greeted the PC; with skepticism and doubt.  Today, the personal computer is a dominant platform for computing power, a major productivity tool and a huge segment of the technical market.  Hammond predicted that mobile computing will exceed the personal computer many times over.

Questions for Starting Mobility Program

Planning to start your mobility journey? Jeffrey Hammond said there are few questions that must be answered before you begin. These include  the following:

  • Who are the target users of the mobility program – Customers? Employees? Partners or others?
  • Do you have a mobility strategy in place? Who drives it?
  • Which are the platforms and devices under consideration for your mobility program?
  • Is the focus on HTML 5 or native apps?
  • What skills need to be developed for building the mobile apps?
  • What are the security and management policies?
  • Have you considered global device and network diversity into your strategy?

Having clear and definitive answers to the above questions will be instrumental in the success of your enterprise mobility program.

Hammond then discussed the need to have a overall strategy before pursuing any mobile implementation or strategy.  Highlighting scenarios for both internal and external uses of mobile computing, he pointed out that a deliberate, precise strategy would provide maximum returns.  Getting too fancy too quickly would risk missing basic and critical uses that would deliver significant results.

Hammond ended with some very specific advice for the mobile platform.  The final comment in his presentation was that the audience must be prepared for a ten year journey but should only focus two years out given the speed of evolution of the platform.

Rohit Sharma, the leader of Virtusa’s global mobility practice, then followed, reiterating the need to develop a business strategy prior to embarking on the mobility journey.  Sharma offered suggestions around standardizing architecture and developing other useful standards.

Audience Feedback & Expert Views

We then started an extended question and answer panel discussion.

1.       Topic 1 – My first request for the two presenters was to give the audience guidance on how to choose between native app development, mobile web HTML5 or a hybrid approach.  Jeffrey offered some very specific app requirements that would influence the decision one way or the other.  For example, if the application requires specific features in the phone or support when the phone is offline (i.e.; airplane use) then native is the way to go.  Rohit added some performance characteristics that would drive the decision but cautioned that all browsers do not behave identically.

We then asked the audience a poll question and found:

Hammond was not surprised by the results and stated that his experience reflected similar findings.  Almost forty percent are pursuing the more generic HTML5 route while one third is writing native to the platform.

1.       Topic 2 – The next topic addressed the issue of having a standard architecture for mobile app development.  The two presenters discussed the issue of a rapidly proliferating number of platforms vs. the need for standardization.  An increasing number of platforms and environments will have far reaching effects for development, maintenance, testing and distribution.  Mobile middleware is an intermediate solution but that creates dependence on third party providers to keep up with changes.  We asked the audience a poll question and found:

Again, Hammond was not surprised; the responses reinforced his belief that we are in the early stages of mobile development.  Sharma felt similarly and mentioned that we have a long way to go before we get a firm grip on mobility.

To summarize, mobility has introduced a paradigm shift in the way we do our business. The importance and urgency for enterprises to embrace mobility and transform their business is increasing by the day. For those starting their mobile initiative, there is a need for a strong business case, a well-defined strategy, an executable roadmap, and a flexible and scalable approach to the program. A partner who can guide, innovate and deliver high quality outcomes for the enterprise can be the crucial difference between an effective mobile program and an also ran initiative.

Thanks to all who attended the webinar and again, for those who did not, you can view it here.