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October 31, 2012

Guest blog: Small apps, big data – the future is mobile

Alex D Paul, IT service management director at ManageEngine, writes for CBR on how mobile technology is changing the way businesses are run.

By Cbr Rolling Blog

Technology is changing the way we work – making the world more mobile and moveable than ever before. Trends like BYOD are blurring the division between our home and work lives and this increasing mobility means that business applications are extending beyond the realms of on-premise and into the cloud. This move is essential to ensuring continued business success in an extremely competitive time.

Microsoft recently announced Windows 8, a new version of its flagship Windows operating system, tailored for a world shifting from PCs to smartphones and tablets. The software giant have taken a huge jump by changing long familiar user interface features to make Windows 8 compatible with trends that favour keeping apps and data in the cloud and relying on mobile devices at work and at home. This announcement reflects a clear shift in the IT industry to a more mobile, application based framework – a world of "small apps, and big data" – where cloud-based apps will reign supreme, both on mobile and desktop devices.

This will eventually sound the death knell for the desk-top-based IT programmes which are installed on a CD and enable a move to a situation where entire app-based access will be available from anywhere through the cloud, and any device.

Gartner analyst Ian Finley recently claimed that enterprises will reach a "crucial tipping point" where there are more web-connected mobile devices than PCs in the workplace. Gartner estimates that 38 percent of mobile devices are brought into the workplace by employees. Finley described a past era spent building applications for a desktop and laptop world and called for a major shift to a multichannel strategy. This strategy is the mobile app-based framework which allows flexible yet consistent working from a multi-device platform, meeting the demands of the modern, ever-evolving enterprises.

Will it work?

An important aspect for the success of this move will be that applications work well across all devices, so that if an individual is compiling a database or drafting a letter they will have the same level of service and functionality regardless of which device they are using, be that PC, tablet and phone devices. A mobile app based framework means greater emphasis will be placed on developing software that takes advantage of the capabilities of individual mobile platforms: Windows, iOS, Android etc. Failure to recognise this will have negative repercussions on the end user experience. If this trend is to truly take off the customer needs to be kept front of mind throughout.

What are the business benefits?

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An interesting point around this transformation is how it is going to benefit smaller agile players in the software development market. This move means that they are able to compete with the big four such as CA technologies and IBM, essentially flattening the playing field. This is also good news for customers, as it will change the purchasing dynamic for IT completely, eliminating the longwinded and complex process of procurement, integration and testing, and ushering in a new era of ‘try before you buy’. This will enable a greater level of flexibility and freedom to experiment, ultimately benefiting smaller more agile players in the marketplace. The competitive pricing of this model also means that small business players can achieve the same functionality as big enterprises without compromising on budget.

While agile, smaller players benefit it will be tough for the big players to follow-suit quickly, with the burden of legacy software to deal with. They will have to make this happen through acquisitions and partnerships. The big four are going to have to make a move quickly or risk getting left behind. The IT industry is evolving rapidly and adapting to the need for mobile working. The fact that Microsoft is embracing this move is a sign of the legitimacy of the trend and should act as a wake-up call to the big four.

Alex D Paul, Director ITSM, ManageEngine

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