Mobile Apps: The Tipping Point for CIOs
by Laton McCartney
The term "tipping point" is usually defined as "the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable."
In other words, like it or not, you can't ignore what's become inevitable.
Now, I have no empirical basis for this, but many CIOs, I believe, have yet to recognize a tipping point when it comes to enterprise mobile apps. Likely they are currently too busy putting out fires, slashing overhead and trying to save their jobs to worry much about mobile momentum.
So if users want to twitter? Fine. Respond to text messages on their Blackberry or read today’s Wall Street Journal on their iPhone? No, problem. Get Linkedin? Go to it.
But mobile Apps as an indispensable factor in the business arena? Certainly the momentum is there, but for it to become mainstream, certain contingencies must fall into place. As an example, mobile devices such as the iPhone need to be capable of replacing laptops in the field. That means they must have software that will enable them to connect with the corporate network securely and access printers and fax machines.
An online perusal of the products and exhibitors appearing at this week’s Cebit 2009 trade show in Hannover, Germany underscores the extent to which IT, telecoms and consumer electronics are converging to create new platforms, new providers and new solutions—and the degree to which mobile devices are entering the corporate world.
With more than 4,000 exhibitors from 69 countries displaying their wares here, according to Cebit, we at best can only get a sampling of some of the enterprise mobile solutions coming on the market, or already available. Among them:
* A UMTS WLAN router from Netgear which will increase mobile transmission speeds, enabling the mobile Internet to compete with fixed network broadband connections.
* The Google G1 cellphone with its so-called Android open source operating system. This super smart mobile unit has been available since October and is targeted directly at Apple's iPhone. It allows business users to create their own apps for their phones.
* A joint offering from Vodafone and Microsoft that provides businesses with enterprise communications and collaboration solutions composed of both fixed and mobile voice and data devices and Microsoft Online Services. These include basics such as email and calendars through a mobile phone as well as Microsoft Office Live Meeting for webconferencing and videoconferencing.
* Software from several vendors including Cortado that will enable mobile devices to connect directly with corporate networks and databases. The as yet unnamed product, which will function effectively as a server for the iPhone and should be available this summer, will be sold through Apple’s App store.
Now granted, these new offerings do not a tipping point make, but once the recession eases up, look for the mobile business momentum to come sweeping in.
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Featured Blogger Laton McCartney with co-blogger Mel Duvall
Laton is a former editor-in-chief of InformationWeek. He has also been a top editor at several Ziff Davis publications, including Smart Partner. Laton has written for The Washington Post, Fortune and other national publications. He also the author of a number of books, including the best-seller "Friends in High Places: The Bechtel Story." His latest, "The Teapot Dome Scandal: How Big Oil Bought the Harding White House and Tried to Steal the Country", will be published in February by Random House. (photo by Jeff Vanuga)
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