The promise of ubiquitous mobility has come full circle and corporations today are facing similar questions to what they faced five to seven years ago.
However, this time the questions are not just about line of business applications such as field service or field sales, but also about the lion's share of the work force. According to IDC, the United States has the highest percentage of mobile workers today, and that workforce will grow to an estimated 75 percent of all workers by 2013. This has been caused by two seemingly unrelated events: first, companies' desire for reduced cost and therefore less physical infrastructure and second, the advent of three key wireless technology advances - faster and wider wireless networks, larger device displays, and better technical platforms for applications (capacity and operating systems). This is evident in corporate changes, such as SAP's purchase of Sybase and their mobility platform iAnywhere.
In the past, questions were focused on a specific worker segment. Today's impending questions are broader and more complex. Corporations are asking "how do I meet the demands of all my mobile workers, how do I maximize the value of mobility and is there a game changer for me with my customers." Those questions are inevitably followed by questions such as "what architecture supports this wide spread adoption, how do I support remote users, and how do I control and deliver applications efficiently in an environment whose very premise is to be an open system?"
If one accepts the fact that there is going to be a set of applications that can exploit the value of the mobility environment, a company must be prepared for four key approaches that are essential to success.
One might say that these are questions that should be asked about all game changers, but the reality in mobility is that those ideas, efforts, and opportunities are as wide and diverse as the network and device choices from which they come. But more importantly the device and application market is moving faster than it has at any another period of network evolution. The iPhone and Android achieved in two years what the first smart phones took many years to achieve. The rate of change is further complicated by the fact that some organizations are adopting an individual liable model as opposed to a corporate liable model for devices and plans.
So the question that our clients are asking now and that we are asking our clients is how can a corporation get ahead of the curve with acceptable risk when a technology is evolving so rapidly? There are several ways to embrace the advances now to avoid being frozen by the rate of change. First, cultivate the underlying mobility ideas and people who are bringing them forward, then, utilize the capabilities of integrators, software providers, and the wireless carries for their tools and knowledge, and finally build a system that supports open standards and plan for change over the next two years. The simple fact is that mobility is not a single initiative, but by its very nature it has become a strategic and inherent way of doing business. Companies that demonstrate leadership in adopting and leveraging mobile business models will be the winners of their markets, much like those who properly leveraged the last major technology inflection point, eCommerce.
Lee Wagner leads the wireless and mobility business unit inCode Telecom, a privately owned global wireless business and technology systems integration and consulting firm. He has developed enterprise solutions in mobility, new business process, and mobile application implementation for some of the largest mobility implementations in the US. Previously, Mr. Wagner was technology leader at Deloitte Consulting.