By Regev Yativ, CEO of Magic Software Enterprises Americas
It is the next epoch in IT and the next epoch in business itself.
Welcome the dawn of the “new age enterprise,” brought to bear by the rise of enterprise mobility. The new age enterprise is an enterprise transformed by mobile applications from every angle, one that enables every department to connect more closely with employees, suppliers and customers and become agile, efficient, and connected like never before.
This is IT’s golden moment to lead, control, secure and facilitate the New Age Enterprise. By embracing BYOD and the ability to offer a variety of mobile apps to all employees, regardless of role, location, operating system or device, IT will be the team driving innovation, increasing productivity, and improving customer and employee satisfaction – advancing the entire organization.
Creating the “New Age Enterprise” requires IT to take the lead. Here’s how:
1) Develop a clear mobile strategy.
Many organisations are taking an ad hoc approach to mobile, but that’s not going to let you progress at the speed you need. It’s time to take control. You must decide on the mission-critical applications and devices, permissions and security levels, order of deployment and SLAs.
In addition, you need to assess the capabilities of your organisation and identify any staffing, outsourcing or business partnerships needed to augment the existing mobile capabilities of your staff.
2) Get buy-in from the key players across the organisation.
You need to show the rest of the organisation that IT is taking the initiative and get them on board before each department starts making special requests, buying their own technology and/or sourcing their own service providers. Meet with the key stakeholders in each department to explain the new mobile possibilities. They will be grateful for your leadership and happy to hand over their requests to your team.
3) Determine the overall development approach: Native or HTML 5 or both.
Native apps are better when the user experience and performance are most important. Tight integration with embedded capabilities, such as the address book, GPS or camera gives native apps faster performance and a superior user experience.
Native apps enable offline usage when network connections are not available. HTML5 is better for content-centered apps that don’t need device-specific capabilities or interfaces. However, its execution and rendering speed are slower, and it takes longer to replicate the native UI experience of multiple platforms.
Users must also be online to use them. Whatever approach/approaches makes sense, make sure your mobile enterprise application platform will support them.
4) Select the right tools.
Don’t limit yourself. Tool selection is all about flexibility, ease-of-use, manageability and future proofing. Look at the big – and long-term – picture. You need an enterprise application platform that supports different architectures (native, web, hybrid) depending on the application requirements and lets you develop once and deploy anywhere (iOS, Android, BlackBerry, desktop, web, cloud, rich Internet, etc.) without requiring dedicated development skill sets.
An even better solution takes a meta-data approach that lets application developers easily create applications utilizing drag-and-drop interfaces without requiring any coding. The best tools also support easy and fast deployment options, instant application update management and monitoring and usage reporting capabilities. As usual, don’t forget the issues of performance, security and scalability.
5) Don’t forget the user interface.
Your employees are using consumer apps 24/7 with attractive and exciting user interfaces. You can create a basic simple app that gets the job done – but no one will use it if it isn’t intuitive and nice to use. Your mobile strategy needs to include setting aside budget for a design and UX expert on your team.
Good design is about more than attractive graphics; good application design means getting relevant integrated information to users with the least amount of screen navigation.
6) Remember back-end integration.
You may have created the most beautiful app that maximises the features of native and HTML5, but if it cannot speak with the organisation’s back-end systems, what use are they? Integrated systems improve processes,increase efficiencies and help ensure user adoption of your new apps.
The salesperson at the client site who can enter the order but who cannot see whether the item is in stock is at a significant disadvantage to his competitor, who can not only enter the order and ensure that it is in stock, but can also expedite delivery via the warehouse’s picking and shipping system.
You need an integration solution that includes certified connectors to popular back-end enterprise systems including SAP, Oracle, JD Edwards, IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce and others, from a vendor with a long history of secure, easy and accurate integrations.
7) Control access via application and device management.
With the increasing numbers and types of mobile devices accessing the corporate network come greater security risks, everything from lost or stolen devices to unauthorized network access. Going unprotected could cost the organisation a lot of money or even their entire business.
Mobile device management solutions help organizations manage these threats by enabling enterprises to enforce a unified security policy for all mobile devices and optimize the functionality and security of a mobile communications network while minimising cost and downtime.
Mobile application management solutions can partition the mobile device, allowing corporate applications to be under control of IT, while the rest of the phone remains personal and proprietary to the employee.
8) Create a realistic roadmap.
Now that you know where you want to take your “New Age Enterprise” and have the tools to get there, create the plan. Determine which applications take priority; develop timelines for delivery – and stick to them. Use Agile or Scrum development methods so you can deliver applications quickly – and with desired specifications.
Needs change too quickly for long-term development approaches. Make sure you develop a smaller but very visible app first and as soon as possible. Demonstrate to the organization that IT can cost-efficiently deliver the exact apps teams’ need, when they need them, with exceptional usability – from design to integration.
9) Do it NOW.
The “New Age Enterprise” depends on you. If you don’t get started today, your company is going to fall behind. While IT has traditionally been a service organisation in the enterprise, BYOD gives you the opportunity to build new leadership skills, learn how to create consensus, and dive into new technologies.
10) Don’t forget your colleagues.
Your peers are facing the same challenges in their organisations. Reach out via forums, LinkedIn, websites, and trade associations to share your lessons learned. Give them the same opportunity you have taken to create their “New Age Enterprises.”
Regev Yativ is President and CEO of Magic Software Enterprises Americas. Magic provides powerful and versatile enterprise-grade application and data integration solutions.
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