A few things I have learnt in the recently since I entered the field of Enterprise Mobility is how excited clients are when they hear the word “It’s Possible”. If anything the smart phone revolution in India has done is initiate the next stage of change in terms of enterprise hardware. And yes, not to be mistaken is the idea of saving on cost that is driving the wave.
Computers on the go: Changing from a desktop to laptop devices brought in a change for people to access systems from anywhere. The penetration of internet dongles meant “all time accessible” even though it was sometimes linked to greater productivity or work from home benefits. Mobility is now looking to take this a step further and leave people with no space to say, “I do not have access, need some time to revert” or “I’m sorry, I’m away from my desk and I don’t have the data”.
We are improving efficiency: Most people who are migrating their systems from laptops to tablets/ mobiles have efficiency as their biggest claim - efficiency of space, time, device costs and operating costs. The commonly expressed views: a tablet costs less than a laptop and most people never need all the features a laptop/ desktop computer offers. For some employees who need limited data access, a mobile phone app costs less than having them a workstation to access. Offices have WiFi connections and that eliminates the need for workstation space for people who are on the move. Tablets cost much less than a laptop and are lighter to carry; also, you don’t have to pay license fees for tablet OS. And of course, since most employees are reimbursed for mobile phone calls, the mobile data package is now a part of the same.
What about the gaps: The above is not totally untrue... well most of it is actually a great way to save on establishment costs and trim down operating expenses. The gaps as we experience are not on the device level but more of an attitude or understanding level. Tablets and Mobile devices can access the internet via browsers like a computer, but the interface most suited for mobility is Apps. Unlike a browser, Apps are a completely different interface and functions much differently in comparison.
The biggest difference is flexibility. Apps have some areas that are set and data fields which are flexible. This is different from a browser as the entire page is pulled in on to a browser on to a server. So a change on a server can easily reflect on the browser. For an App, a change can be a new version.
The transition from a browser based system to an application based approach has its own challenges for a user perspective. For instance, the keyboard is a part of the screen and hence the screen size reduces by half. While scrolling is a no-no on a browser; it is preferred than a click on a mobile screen.
Yes, tablet is a complete device by itself, but you cannot change its configuration (processor, RAM, HDD) at will like on a computer. So if you go for the cheapest, you are also closer to being obsolete that much sooner.
The Mobility Friendly Attitude: Mobility is the way the world is fast moving and will go in the days to come. It is soon going to be the way organization are going to get closer to their customers and internal stake holders by extending the power into their hands. But when it is the question of enterprise solutions, it is essential to understand how far and how much to expose the existing systems on a new platform. Most importantly; realize that this is a major change and will require a fresh perspective to look at things and appreciate changes rather than pull down possibilities. And yes; be judicious in what you wish for and think long term.