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Mobile Invades the Enterprise

By: Ned Stringham

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The revolution in mobile computing for consumers is well under way and moving faster than any technology wave before. Following right behind it is the enterprise adoption of mobile applications. IDC expects spending globally to reach $11.5 billion by 2014. This wave is likely to up-end industries, create new winners and losers and extend the process of creative destruction throughout the enterprise world as it has in the consumer world.

While consumers are now producing enormous amounts of data, enterprises have been doing that for decades. There are enormous amounts of enterprise data held in ERP and legacy systems. Much of this data will now become accessible through mobile devices. With device costs expected to fall under $100 for fully functioning smart phones within the next several years, penetration rates will likely approach 90% in the U.S. The mobile device, both smart phones and tablets, will become the primary source for consumer and business information over the rest of this decade.

One of the exciting tends in the mobile enterprise space is the emergence of very low cost solutions that bring capabilities to small and mid-sized enterprises that could historically only be afforded by larger organizations. By having employees and contractors use their own smart phone or tablet (BYOD– Bring Your Own Device) for business activities via downloading and authenticating their device with the company, these new solutions eliminate historically very high-cost, proprietary hardware entirely.

We’re seeing solutions in shipping, plant maintenance, field services and field construction management, to name a few areas, where legacy approaches that cost thousands of dollars per user per month are now costing $20- $100. Small and mid-sized enterprise will quickly obtain the capabilities of larger firms and larger firms will be able to radically lower their costs for those capabilities as well.

The smartest organizations trying to take advantage of this massive shift are building mobile platforms that operate in the cloud, concentrate the complex functionality in centralized server applications, and build a translation layer on top of that which can quickly generate native applications that run across the predominate mobile operating systems. SAP announced it was taking this approach using Sybase as the core of its mobile platform and many other start-ups have chosen similar architectures to building their platforms. Development shops building one-off, stand alone apps will be obsolete very quickly as the mobile platform approach sweeps through the market offering businesses rapid and inexpensive ways to ‘get mobile.’

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