Mobility should no longer be considered a platform but rather a way of doing business. That was the message from long-time industry watchers during a panel discussion at COMDEXvirtual
A variety of factors are causing this shift including the explosive growth of smartphones, the Apple iPad and the general consumerization of IT, they said during a mobile computing session at COMDEXvirtual, the online conference hosted by CRN parent company Everything Channel. The show takes place November 16 - 17, and sessions are available on-demand until May 17, 2011.
"Today the demands are getting access to information anytime, anywhere, and the industry has begun to respond with hardware, software and infrastructure to support this demand," said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, an analyst firm in Campbell, Calif.
"Smartphones have become pocket computers," said Barjarin who added that 887,000 smartphone devices ship per day, according to IDC research. What's more the iPad has become an extension of the laptop and is more portable and more versatile, he said.
As a result VARs and IT managers need to think about how their corporate applications support mobile platforms, the provisioning of those applications and the security of both the application and device.
It is important to create mobile line-of-business applications and have mobility embedded in the process, said Ed Carmody, director of mobile business solutions for Axispoint, a New York solution provider. As VARs and users build out those applications they need to introduce workflows and access to information with mobility in mind.
"Enterprises need to look holistically at mobile applications. There can be operational improvement if it is done right," said David Krebs, practice director for mobile and wireless at VDC Research, a market research firm in Natick, Mass. "There is evidence that productivity is increased 20 to 30 percent," he said.
Beyond applications, VARs and IT managers need to specifically think about device management and security management because sensitive corporate information is being accessed through personal smartphones.
"During the recession IT was more receptive to individuals bringing in their own devices and they would do some sort of support. But we are one breach away," said Krebs.
NEXT: Don't Wait For The Carriers
Carmody suggested that users and VARs consider building out Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) within their buildings or campuses to support this mobile shift.
"As mobile line-of-business applications are being embedded in businesses, the networks that the mobile devices are depending on are no longer optional. [Cellular service] needs to work in your buildings," said Carmody.
Carriers have begun to invest millions in upgrading their networks and installing DAS in office buildings, hospitals and apartment buildings to offload traffic from their cell towers, he said.
Carmody advises that while it may be tempting to let the carriers fund DAS in their buildings, users are locking into a particular carrier and limiting the capabilities that could be provided. Instead he recommended that customers and VARS think about creating a neutral host distributed antennae system that can also be integrated into W-Fi networks, 4G and provider public-safety frequency, two-way radios or paging systems.
"If you have an attractive venue, you can charge the carriers to connect to them and recoup systems costs as well as create a new revenue stream for businesses," he said
The COMDEXvirtual panelists offered these five recommendations to make mobility easier.
1. There is not one device or one capability, so understand your mobile workers' environments and requirements. Understand the nuances.
2. Control the process. Device management and security management policies are part of any mobile decision.
3. Take into consideration your actual wireless environment.
4. Make sure you choose your integration partners carefully. Make sure they understand the cellular business and your business.
5. Take a hard look at how OSes and applications will be rolled into the overall mobile process.
Register now to attend COMDEXvirtual or to access on-demand sessions.