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The CIO Mobility Challenge: From Coping to Mastering
by Arny Epstein, chief technology officer for Verivo Software
In the rush of enterprise mobility challenges, there is one undercurrent that is especially challenging for chief information officers and information technology departments: the consumer-driven nature of mobility itself.
With each new device innovation, IT departments face a new wave of adjustments to accommodate bring-your-own-device users within a company, or consumers it needs to reach via mobile apps. This much discussed “consumerization of IT” trend tends to put IT in constant “catch up” mode.
From developing mobile apps for multiple device platforms, to putting in place stronger mobile security, to quickly tweaking and testing existing apps every time a major new device hits the market, mobility poses a huge resource challenge for IT.
Think about the pace of change: within enterprises demands are moving rapidly. A recent CIO survey by McKinsey & Company found that nearly all respondents expect to deploy more than 25 mobile apps in the next two years. Astute CIOs are realizing they need an efficient infrastructure to cope with this pace.
One big challenge is the rapid proliferation of new devices, device features, and operating system versions. Options for coping include native development for a limited set of device types, using HTML5 for cross-device development, or a use of a cross-device development tool. Each approach has its benefits and shortcomings which must be evaluated against the IT organization’s budgetary and operational constraints.
But the development of code for mobile apps is just part of the challenge. Enterprise mobile apps also require security; most need integration to back-end data; and once launched; there is the need for management functions such as monitoring and analytics.
CIOs need infrastructure to bring efficiency to these requirements. The infrastructure embodied in an enterprise mobility platform allows IT organizations to shift from simply coping with mobility to mastering it.
Here’s how infrastructure can help, looking beyond the primary challenge of cross-device development:
- IT resource management. Because an enterprise mobility platform provides tools for security, data integration, and management functions like monitoring and analytics, IT staffers don’t have to cobble these functions together. Instead, they are empowered to make full use of these capabilities.
- Analytics and app improvement. Good mobility platforms incorporate analytics into apps as they are developed, allowing IT and line of business professionals to assess what’s working and what’s not as soon as apps are launched.
- Security and risk management. Mobile app security should not be an afterthought. A strong mobility platform has some security features built in, and partner relationships with other providers that offer advanced security or device management functionality.
With each computing era, we’ve seen infrastructure arise that helps CIOs and IT organizations excel at the new paradigm. We’re seeing the same type of maturity curve today with mobility.
In the mainframe era, the hardware vendors stepped up by developing some of the first enterprise software systems, as well as transaction server functionality. In the client/server era, we saw the rise of integrated development environments, systems management software, desktop office software suites, and a new wave of enterprise software from non-hardware vendors. The Internet era brought us a new type of middleware–the application server–as well as Web analytics software.
In the late 1990s as the app server market was maturing, the businesses that adopted the new middleware early on gained a competitive advantage by having an app server layer that provided a stable, scalable infrastructure for their Internet applications. Because they had that infrastructure, they could concentrate resources on business value. Others spent valuable time and resources building infrastructure through custom approaches using Perl and other tools. Would anyone build an enterprise Web app without an application server today?
Now with mobility, the same ecosystem curve is underway. Mobility platforms won’t master mobility for you, but they’ll provide the infrastructure to make your efforts more efficient, more strategic, and less risky.