4 minute read
“Hey! Hey, you! I need you to build us an iPhone app,” the CIO yelled out of his office at no one in particular.
If you work in the IT department of a large enterprise, you might have been the “you” to whom that CIO was speaking. The request most likely made you feel you weren’t given enough information. What app? For which users? On what devices? Who else in our company is building apps? What technologies do we have or should we adopt for such an undertaking?
Welcome to the new world of mobile apps. Mobile apps are popping up everywhere inside the enterprise. But that statement, alone, is confusing. New technology doesn’t pop up in the enterprise, does it? Many of Verivo Software’s largest customers still use IE6, which was launched in 2001, as their only approved browser. So I’ll repeat, new tech doesn’t just pop up.
Device Support: A Game of Best Guess
Let’s look at one of these hurdles. Five years ago, only execs carried smart devices. And specifically, those execs only carried company-issued BlackBerrys. How did we get to “bring your own device” or BYOD so quickly? It seems so “un-enterprise.” What this means is that you don’t control your users’ devices. And since you don’t control them (or, in many cases, buy them) you don’t get to choose what they are. Bill in sales has an iPhone 4S and an iPad Mini. Gladys in accounting has a Windows phone, and Juan in operations has a brand new Galaxy S3. Oh, and they all want to be able to access secure corporate data via your new app. Remarkable, right?
But there are ways to deal with this new BYOD nightmare.
Control the Uncontrollable
“It’s not yours. I don’t want you touching it.” OK, fair. It’s not the company’s phone, so trying to lock down features and functionality the way you did in the past won’t work. Your employees have their personal photos, contacts, games, and more on their devices, and they don’t plan to give you control over those things. However, the good news is that there are technology solutions that take care of this for you. Companies like Good Technologies, for example, provide a containerized approach to device management and security. In a nutshell, that means that a portion of the device is segmented to be used for secure data purposes, whether in the form of enterprise apps or simply email and PIM. While the employee is entitled to the data, the data is safe and secure in the container. If the employee is no longer entitled, the IT folks can wipe the container without wiping the employee’s personal data.
Building for BYOD
With the wide range of devices and form factors available today, how do you begin to build an app that everyone can use? Unless you want to spend a lot of time and a lot of money, find a solution that allows you to build an app that can be deployed to numerous platforms from a single code-base. HTML5 is one such solution. But, the jury’s out on whether or not it will meet the ever-expanding requirements of the business. However, enterprise mobility platforms manage the cross-platform aspects of your app, making it easy to build once and deploy everywhere.
Making Content Valuable
So you have to build an app. Specifically, you have to build a Sales & Distribution app that connects to your CRM system. And more than that, you need to build an app that your employees will want to use. You can lead a horse to mobile but you can’t make him log in (isn’t that an expression?). Taking a large-screen application like CRM and compressing it down into a small-screen app is a recipe for disaster. Most employees don’t like your CRM system. So, in order to get them to use it, you have to make it interesting and valuable to them. One way to do that is to create a rich, composite app, integrating data from across the enterprise. By creating a view of valuable data that is not available anywhere else, you not only drive adoption of mobility, but of all the underused enterprise systems that are included in the composite.
So I’ve touched on three of the biggest issues facing IT in the BYOD world. What other issues are you and your company facing while rolling out mobile apps?