According to CTIA, 1.3 billion smartphones were sold in the U.S. in 2014. Several years ago, companies would call Lopez Research to ask questions about bring your own device (BYOD) programs and what mobile operating systems a company should use to build its apps. At that time, many businesses were skeptical that purchasing tablets would deliver any business value. Today, no one calls about these concerns. Smartphones and tablets are widely used across all types of organizations. Most organizations are building apps to support more than one mobile operating system and BYOD programs are also in full force. A Lopez Research survey revealed 65 percent of U.S. firms have BYOD programs.
Today, everyone knows mobile is important, but what we discuss is different. It isn’t simply a dialogue of how mobile changes the business. We live in a mobile plus cloud world. While each of these technology trends has its own challenges and merits, companies are increasingly thinking of how the intersection of mobile and cloud will change their business.
Going mobile isn’t simply a matter of selecting devices and operating systems. The shift to mobile is about creating application, data and services portability across locations and devices. A truly mobile company will also take advantage of all of the new data sources and features (e.g. location, image capture, and sensor data) that mobility provides. Cloud computing provides a critical role in helping mobile achieve this value proposition. Cloud is at the core of enabling new service innovation. Many of today’s most highly regarded mobile services, such as file sync and share and streaming content services, couldn’t exist without the cloud.
As companies look to mobile enable every aspect of the business, cloud computing provides the foundation for creating and consuming the next generation of business applications. Cloud services also provide mobile middleware, enterprise mobile management (EMM), testing and app development tools. The most advanced level of cloud services deliver software as a service (SaaS) apps that live in the cloud and can be used anywhere, from any device. SaaS is inherently mobile and couldn’t exist without cloud computing infrastructure. SaaS companies, such as Salesforce.com, Concur and WorkDay, offer mobile versions of their services.
Twenty years ago, a startup would’ve had difficulty starting a company without venture capital funding because the infrastructure costs were too high. Today, anyone with talent can build and test their software using cloud services. For example, there are services from companies such as Perfecto Mobile and Soasta that provide test environments. This means anyone can build a mobile application. Hardware entrepreneurs in the mobile and the Internet of Things (IoT) space also benefit from access to cheap infrastructure. Cloud computing provides tremendous scalability, enabling companies can build apps and services to support millions of users on day one and only pay for the computing power they use.
Rather than building a mobile strategy and a cloud strategy, a company should be thinking of these things as combined. Companies need to evaluate how mobile and cloud differ from the existing PC landscape. In a mobile cloud world, companies must build apps and services that are:
- Network aware. The service must be designed to operate in an environment of erratic connectivity. A company must understand how the application or service will react when the connection is dropped or when the network is slow?
- Device aware. What features does the device offer? Does the device support voice navigation, touch, and gesture? What size screen does it have? How much computing power is available to run your software and services?
- Sensor aware. What type of data is available from the device? Mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) devices offer a wide range of data sources, such as motion, orientation, and environmental conditions.
- Identity aware. In the mobile world, companies have largely focused on securing the device. In a mobile cloud world, companies want to secure access to applications and content. The same identity and access management services must work seamlessly for both cloud SaaS services and custom mobile applications.
The mobile cloud world means companies have to design a big data and analytics strategy to support delivering the right information, at the right time, to a person’s device of choice (wearable, tablet, smartphone and PC). I call these right-time experiences. Others may call this the next generation of IT, but this transition expands far beyond a shift in infrastructure. The mobile cloud world changes the fundamental fabric of a business. The mindshift is that business leaders will use these technologies to change the customer and employee experience with contextual data that makes the end user smarter, not just more efficient.
This article was written by Maribel Lopez from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.