As I mentioned in my last blog posting, mobility is a big trend in IT today. For everything from finding the nearest pizza place, looking up movie show times, getting driving directions, or checking social media, “there’s an app for that,” as the commercial says.
But increasingly smartphones are becoming a standard accessory that we carry everywhere, and they have become a mandatory business tool, including for Federal use. Of course, we expect to be able to access our corporate e-mail. But beyond e-mail, there is an explosion of uses and possibilities. For instance, did you run into a business contact today and even briefly discuss a project, an idea, or a future meeting? Better write it down, or better yet, go to the Customer Relationship Manager app on your smartphone and put the information where you can better manage it.
For those organizations (such as GSA) with fleets of vehicles, a smartphone app could give a quick and easy way to enter or retrieve data on vehicles. Health professionals can have important data readily available as they are making hospital rounds. The US Postal Service provides users with the ability to track packages. Travelers love the ability to receive travel schedules and enter expenses in real time. Sales staffs can retrieve inventories from a business database while talking to the potential purchaser. For those professionals that track billable hours, what could be better than a quick timekeeping entry on the smartphone?
These activities in themselves are not new ideas. What is new is having all these capabilities on a platform that is mobile and convenient. The possibilities are endless … but the challenges are huge. For instance, security is paramount. We will need secure communications, possibly encrypted data. If a user loses a smartphone or, worse, it is stolen, we must ensure that the data is not vulnerable. Also, IT staffs and application owners may need to build interfaces to legacy systems, or develop new architectures to support mobility requirements.
For those of us who are IT service providers, the challenges will be to manage the various the interfaces, increasing capabilities, security needs, and rising expectations of our customers. I’d like to hear from readers. How do you see these trends developing? Do you see smartphone apps becoming a significant part of our IT responsibilities? How will other mobile devices such as e-book readers fit into this mix? What will be next?