Top 6 Corporate Handheld Device App Categories by 2012: Page 2

Posted December 15, 2010

Larry Marion

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"As the more senior business decision makers get experience with large amounts of info in a format size that is accessible and readable, it will take off even faster," White adds.

Have iPad or Tablet, Will Travel

Don't underestimate the stampede by senior managers and executives to get an iPad or other tablet type device. William Briggs, Director, Deloitte Consulting and deputy CTO says, "The use has grown exponentially in the last four months."

In the short term, the rush to buy and use a tablet will lead to the expectation that simple transactions can be conducted via a handheld device. White mentions booking a conference room, accessing the corporate travel site, filing expense reports and other mundane internal tasks. That's just the appetizer, though.

The main course is much more challenging. These devices are not just simple personal digital assistants to accomplish simple tasks while traveling. Many C-level executives view tablets and high end smartphones as a key component for "large scale process transformation," as Briggs notes.

The avant garde are rethinking how a manufacturer or distributor manages inventory, or how materials flows are tracked in a supply chain. They see the combination of GPS location knowledge, cameras that are also scanners, a decent keyboard, Wi-Fi or 4G broadband access, and cloud and social media tools as the vital ingredients for reworking business processes.

That's what Briggs is talking about. And he's not alone.

For these and other reasons, IT departments need to take a long and hard look at how their existing infrastructure will support mobile devices that are not just dumb terminals receiving pre-set reports. Everyone knows about the security issues, but that's just the beginning of the journey into the land of the handheld as king.

"People don't realize the complexity of integration, especially device management," note Briggs. The infrastructure has to be configured to manage pagination and what Briggs calls "lazy loading." Your servers need to know which applications and data requests do not need to push an entire file over the network — just the data subset they need.

Client-sensing technology at the data center is crucial and it must be tied into the specific applications, because some applications will need to send more data than others.

Proliferating Devices….

Another big architecture challenge involves the proliferation of devices. Many companies are moving to a multiple device policy — the company will supply employees with one type of device, and support access for other types of devices owned by the employees.

The BYOD approach — bring your own device — is fraught with legal and technical complexities. Inevitably, most IT shops will support multiple mobile device operating system platforms.

Briggs recalls the "homogeneous back office fantasy" at most organizations as reminiscent of current thinking that companies can mandate just one device. Instead, IT managers need to accept the heterogeneity of the mobile device OS world and deal with it.

Furthermore, users will demand a consistency of what they can see and do, no matter which device.

"You will need a sophisticated middle tier to do this, with a service bus," Briggs explains. "This type of infrastructure is no longer a nicety but is becoming a mandate."

Given the adoption rates forecast by users responding to the Bloomberg Businessweek Research Services survey, your organization has less than six months to develop and deploy a robust integration strategy.

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