With the development trend of cloud computing applications in enterprises (cloud ERP, cloud CRM…) and the outburst of using personal devices at work (Bring Your Own Device – BYOD), Enterprise Mobility can be defined as a tendency which changes staff’s habits of working, uses mobile applications to conduct the working tasks.
This trend has led to an increase in the demand for mobilization of administrative applications like ERP, HCM… This has always been an essential approach in the environment of administrative applications. According to a report of IDC/Appcelerator (2013) to 80% of enterprise leaders, enterprises whose strategies focus on mobile-first will gain a competitive position as opposed to other rivals. The application of mobility platform in business administration has delivered impressive working performance regarding real-time accessible information regardless of time and distance, and minimization of total time for business processes…
However, besides those tangible benefits, deployment of Enterprise Mobility poses considerable challenges to enterprises, as well as the implementation team regarding analysing for technology selection, implementation methodology, supporting application upgrades, securing application and device management, and integrating with existing administration system like ERP… The construction of a general strategic solution covering all the factors related to human resources, development roadmap, methodology, technological solutions, deploying partners… is the first reasonable step to guide the administration platform to the wave of modern mobile computing.
Phases of applying mobile computing platform in an enterprise environment.
Phase 1: Enterprises begin with mobilizing websites promoting product and service, building web-based applications, extending basic functions to mobile platforms like email browsing application.
Phase 2: In this stage, enterprises identify the mobile applications which can be used to automate the implementation of business processes. Tasks like checking orders, reporting a business situation, or asking for approval… which used to take more time to conduct in the PC environment, now can be processed immediately in real time at any time and anywhere with mobile apps.
Phase 3: This final stage decides the maturity of deployment of mobile application deployment in enterprise environment. At this stage, enterprises start to actively approach the potential markets by using a mobile computing platform. For example, financial or retailing firms can capture consumption trends of customers when they use smartphones to pay directly by credit cards or scan product barcodes.
With each stage, the act of building a deployment strategy includes the following steps: identify the mobile communication infrastructure; analyse for selecting implementing technology; implement and develop applications; support usage and application updates.
Device deployment strategies
Identify the mobile communication infrastructure, security requirements:
In this step, enterprises have to clearly determine the type and the number of mobile devices needing supports; decide on whether they will provide mobile devices for employees or let them use their own personal devices (BYOD), design data security strategies, for example, what data can be accessed or shared among devices; at the same time, develop policies of Mobile Device Management – MDM, Mobile Application Management – MAM in case applications are used for wrong purposes or mobile devices are stolen or lost…
Identify the business processes for mobilization
In the next step of deployment strategies, enterprises need to clearly determine a specific roadmap, classify mobilizing priorities for these processes, calculate the ROI, TCO ratio for each application. In general, mobile application solutions can be classified basing on business requirements as shown below:
Select a technology to build applications:
The information dimensions affecting the decision of selecting a developing technology platform includes strategies of devices and users, requirements for functions, development cost and time. Based on the analysing results of these factors, enterprises can choose a suitable developing platform for their current need. Besides the selection of developing platform, deployment team also need to get a clear answer on the issues of technology, integration, security, device management.
Construct, implement mobile applications:
The implementation methodology is conducted in the development model of flexible application SCRUM instead of the traditional waterfall model. In SCRUM model, each application is divided basing on the stages of development from 2 to 3 months; each stage includes some development sprints which last for 2-3 weeks. Thank the division of sprints, the SCRUM model enables the deployment team to continuously update users’ feedbacks, meet the need to rapidly change requirements, and simultaneously deliver faster investment value for the business.
Support, maintain the development of mobile application updates:
To maintain the development of mobile application updates, optimally support users during using process, these important factors should be considered:
Build support team;
Regularly update applications with updated versions of operating system;
Build and maintain integrated middleware platform solution in case it is necessary to develop more integrated systems in the future.
As regards the conducting solutions, from a technological perspective, the problem of constructing mobile applications in enterprises can be attributed to the problem of system integration between mobile applications and backend administration systems like ERP or HCM…
The architecture of mobile information systems in enterprises can be divided into three components: mobile applications, middleware applications, backend systems like ERP.
Backend system: These systems will decide on the used integration method, it can be a connector or direct point-to-point use of web services. As for integration using a connector, some systems like Oracle readily provide the ability to build connectors using existing technologies, for example, Oracle connector can be developed based on the available PL/SQL packages.
Middleware system: These systems provide a common integration layer for all mobile applications. Brands like Kony, Convertigo, Oracle, SAP, Salesforce… offer middleware platform solutions which provide integration adapters, and at the same time, provide services supporting integration of different business processes, as well as enhance security ability for mobile applications. Besides, middleware solutions also supply online data synchronizing features of device management, application management…
Mobile applications: The development platform of mobile applications can be identified based on the analysis of users’ requirements, the cost of deployment time, the security requirements… Businesses can choose the native platform, cross-platform, or mobile web technology, depending on their specific requirement. In some cases, suppliers of software solutions like ERP have their development platform of mobile applications to better support integration as well as usage performance. For instance, Oracle provides ADF mobile platform, or SAP provides SAP Mobile Platform to support the development of mobile applications integrating with their ERP products.
Overall, we can see that Enterprise Mobility, along with the wave of ERP applications in business administration, is an inevitable trend. Together with the trend of cloud shifting in current business administration applications, Enterprise Mobility is the next development step for enterprises to become more flexible. Successful construction of a complete deployment strategy which is suitable for specific administration environment of enterprises can be seen as an initial strategic action to help businesses grow to the administration wave on mobile computing, optimize technological innovations, to enhance competitiveness, as well as business and administration performances.