I cannot help thinking that we are somehow missing the opportunity presented by mobility. Yes, I can read my email, access my calendar, even interact with core back-end systems via my laptop, but the versatility of the mobile phone sets it apart.
Most businesses use smartphones to mobilise just one or two parts of their workforce, typically the sales or servicing teams. They have not looked at mobilising the company as a whole.
This is rather like buying a house and only using two rooms. These days we are all mobile employees, and need secure access to company data on the move or from home. If your customer has spent money on mobility, it makes sense to provide role-based access to all.
Mobile is not just an extension of business back-office, CRM or ERP systems.
People like their phones because of their immediacy. I believe that employees prefer to use their smartphones rather than their laptops when working remotely. Mobile phones have an intuitive interface, and are always at hand. This ‘stickiness’ prompts people to use their smartphones often.
The line between personal and professional use is blurring. Many people want to use their mobiles for both work and play. As a result, enterprises are under pressure to accommodate employee-liable devices.
Recent advances have seen mobility platforms support and provision enterprise-class apps over any mobile operating system, including Symbian or Windows Mobile. So business apps can now be developed and propagated over myriad devices in minutes, enabling users to access data securely over their own handsets.
Meanwhile, we expect the HTML5 protocol to revolutionise the mobile app, due to its ability to provide data persistence or offline access, even if the signal is lost. It can also support remote data storage on the device itself, and update on the go.
This paves the way for easy-to-build, cross-device, cloud-based apps that will offer a user experience as good as that delivered via native apps (housed on the device) or the traditional non-HTML5-based browser-based app (the downside of which is once you lose your connection your app stops working).
Enterprise-class mobility platforms have better security than ever, often with two-factor authentication and the critical ability to wipe the device remotely if it is lost; agnostic operating system support allowing the apps to be repurposed over any mobile smartphone; and HTML5 to enable constant access, organisations will use these platforms not only for employees but also to reach customers.
This changes everything.
Instead of focusing solely on productivity gains, we can talk about revenue generation, which gets the heart racing.
For example, in the competitive financial service industry, mobile banking is now a must-have if you want to keep your customers. Other mobile apps for portfolio management are becoming top-line boosters and competitive differentiators. It will be exciting to see the plethora of apps that emerge for all industries.
Expect to see incentives, loyalty schemes, discounts, and cross-selling, as enterprises begin to use mobile apps to extend their brand to every user over every device. We will likely even see enterprises devise their own app stores off a mobility platform.
Alongside their own consumer apps, telecommunications operators may host enterprise app stores. Other companies may integrate these mobile apps over media channels such as broadband and IPTV. ISVs stand to benefit by extending the reach of access to back-office systems to enterprise partners, while VARs may market mobility platforms as a transformative business tool in their own right.
But whether this vision for mobile technology will come to pass is down to our collective ability to imagine it and make it happen.
Rikke Helms is EMEA managing director at Antenna Software
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View photos of last night's awards ceremony in London
View photos of all the winners from the 2018 Channel Awards
After a glittering awards evening in Battersea celebrating 25 years of the Awards, we are pleased to share the list of winners and judges' commended winners