Be smart about moving your enterprise into the mobile space

Mobilizing enterprise applications is a key approach for modern companies wanting to increase the flexibility of their work force. We have our , that is being implemented for internal customers. Chris on an article regarding the number one reason companies go mobile - employee productivity. I'm not here to address that question since we are going more mobile within our enterprise.

I want to address something I've seen internally, and read about externally, regarding "what to move onto mobile devices." There are many that leave it up to whoever has the money or has made their own decision as an application owner, with little or no customer interaction. To help us make this decisions in a more intelligent manner, I've come up with a few questions/statements (with underlying processes). I hope you find them useful.

What should I move to a mobile device? (things to consider)

    1. This is not an all or nothing exercise
      • Many look at the daunting task of taking a process-intensive, multi-tiered, multi-capable application as a very high hurdle towards mobile. This should not be the case. You should consider breaking up the application into those parts that should be deployed (see below).
    2. Understand your consumers
      • When looking at the TAM (total available market), you need to consider who your customers are and what they are using before targeting that platform.
    3. Focus on tasks versus applications
      • Applications are made up of tasks (some call them features). Many tasks have no business being inside the context of a mobile application. Be smart about what you consider deploying and focus on those. Some things to consider:
        • Is it appropriate for the screen size of the target device
        • Does it leverage the available sensors/instrumentation (GPS, camera, position, microphone, speakers, touchscreen)
        • Does it gain value from being on a mobile device (i.e., performing inventory in multiple locations or need to take photo and include)
    4. Data control
      • My first manager at Intel told me something that has stuck with me for 16 years, "Don't put something in e-mail you don't want people to read on CNN." With that thought always in the back of my mind, I've always tried to control what I state or release publicly in hopes of limiting the need to fight fires later. Even though there are several solid controls out there for encryption and authentication, losing control of your data on a mobile device should be a real concern. We've put in place a tiered approach to what data is allowed to be mobilized and so far this has proven very helpful.
    5. Who owns the device
      • With ownership comes responsibility and a certain level of control. A corporately owned device can have significant hardware and software features to enable remote wipe, full disk encryption or other controlling mechanisms to reduce risk from loss or over-the-air exposure.
      • We have a BYO (bring your own) strategy inside the company on top of our company provided devices. Having a strategy helps someone who wants to get e-mail access on their smart-phone, know what to do. It also helps to provide guard rails for the deployment of certain content you want higher levels of control on.
    6. Content is king, reuse is better
      • When it comes to developing software, the more you can reuse, the faster your development cycles are. That doesn't mean you won't have to create content to attract eyes, instead you can reuse core items and leverage the work done by your co-workers. What makes an enterprise great is the ability to leverage the talent all around you and give a consistent experience to the consumers. Reuse helps both those areas.
    7. Source ownership
      • This will seem obvious,but I'll say it anyway; if you own the code it will be easier to develop a mobile solution. With that said, you may be looking at an existing OTS (off-the-shelf) product you use internally and all of a sudden they have a mobile offering. Just know that the above considerations need to be taken into that decisions (data, consumers, tasks, device ownership)
    8. Legacy does not mean no mobile
      • Through the adoption of a services infrastructure, you can take a legacy application and freshen it up with use-cases in the mobile space. Exposing content and business process through a web service will enable you to move to mobile for those who need it.
    9. Know where you are going
      • In my , I covered the three paths we are taking towards mobile. Whether going with a browser-based, native or virtual instance of your application, you need to be fully aware of the pro's and con's that come along with that path. As know as you know the reasons, which were not simply "because our boss said so," each subsequent decision and application decision is built on a confident foundation.

Our story is will be different from yours, but I hope you can take something and reuse it as you discover your path.

How are you doing on your mobile strategy?