With mobile devices becoming the world's companions that people can have on the palm of their hands, a recent forecast estimates that by 2014, 1.7 billion mobile devices will be accessing the internet. Widespread smartphone and tablet adoption is giving birth to a new ecosystem of mobile apps.
Apple with its iTunes App Store is currently the benchmark for mobile experience. In early 2013, Apple announced that users had downloaded 40 billion apps from its App Store. And Google with Google Play, comes close behind it.
As mobile apps are becoming smarter, both personal users and enterprises has received many benefits from apps and mobile devices. Mobile apps for business must offer the expected, and now, many companies are struggling to manage the proliferation of mobile apps and connect to business content.
Below is a list of some critical areas for enterprises to manage as mobile apps are slowly and steadily populate the mobile enterprise ecosystem.
The basic foundation of the mobile begins with deployment of the devices, along with a portfolio of productivity apps. The goal is so that user download and install the app and starts using it.
The apps created should have registration (if necessary for the company), log in form, information with the ability to be pushed to the user's device automatically and so forth.
Some apps may be developed and used internally to solve a specific task in the company. Others maybe standardized to be sold via the various app stores, both platform specific outlets such as the Apple App Store, Google Play, Windows Phone App Store or BlackBerry World.
Deployment and configuration policies have to go hand-in-hand. Ultimately, company employees want to be able to use any device and any app, accessing content without any boundaries. Ideally, if an employee has an Apple or Android device owned/provided to them, they should be immediately have the secured content and correct business apps configured based on their roles and responsibilities.
Apps and Content Deployment
Companies have a choice of where they get content and apps. They can come from the cloud, stored on premise, or in the combination of both. The answer depends on the company's needs, and the IT team has to be aware of each component of mobile content resides, and importantly who has the authorized access.
Managing Apps and Contents
IT team must maintain control over how the apps in mobile devices access corporate information. At the very least, the team has to be able to turn off the device and/or content or app if the mobile hardware is lost or stolen. A key component of that is creating lockable configuration and security policies.
Mobile Device Management (MDM) software helps IT centrally manage, secure and deploy mobile data, applications and devices, including tablets and phones. The journey continues beyond MDM to Mobile App Mgmt (MAM), Mobile Content Mgmt (MCM) and securing the apps.
Security is a crucial part of mobile throughout the company. Since people have access to these apps, and the openness of the internet, apps has to be of secured throughout lifecycle. Apps must be integrated into the initial company's mobile strategy, and into other stages.
For a company's mobility, all devices, apps and cloud services need to recognize each other and be able to share content. There are three factors that contribute to interoperability of the current HTML-based mobile web apps:
- Cross-platform - Most companies will have to provide apps to the current largest market share holders. These are Apple's iOS, Google's Android, Microsoft's Windows Phone and BlackBerry.
- Backend connectivity: While mobile users will run against the same hosted backend, company apps need to run against the company's backend system.
- Safe and secured: When dealing with the open internet, company apps must adhere to IT security standards to safeguard data.
Develop or Buy
For a company to have its own mobile apps, it all starts with the app creator, which could be an individual developer, internal development team, partner or outsource. Most large companies and organizations will benefit by designing/developing their own apps for mobile-enabled business processes. These mobile solutions can tap into different applications and workflow tools using dashboards to monitor everything from sales to the health of the entire business in real time.
If the company doesn't have the resources, developers can be hired so it can have the dedicated apps they create.