Apply M-Business Solutions To Your Enterprise
Today’s mobile devices have high-speed Internet access, rich Web browsers, and other powerful real-time, location-aware applications. The ubiquity of these robust devices has created a new frontier for e-business. It is now imperative for an enterprise to build “m-business” (mobile) solutions that leverage key elements of the mobile ecosystem and align these solutions with primary business objectives.
The adoption of e-business mobile solutions can result in increased revenue and workforce productivity in a variety of industries. In the auto industry, for example, m-business solutions offer consumers, credit companies, and the sales force improved access to dealer information, account servicing, CRM, vehicle trading, and payment options. In banking, m-business solutions facilitate a variety of transactions and data transfers for employees, risk managers, and consumers alike. M-business solutions even provide access to bond analytics, stock pricing and market data, and portfolio management for investment users at all levels.
The types of m-business solutions are as varied as the devices costumers might use to access them. Native applications, for example, are installed directly on the mobile device and are therefore specific to the operating system. Whether the device is a smart phone or tablet, a native “app” can truly leverage its specific capabilities, such as a touchscreen or global positioning system (GPS). Alternatively, mobile Web applications are delivered via the enterprise’s mobile Web site and execute within a device’s mobile browser.
Applications also communicate through mobile messaging systems. Short message service (SMS) refers to text messaging. Multimedia message service (MMS) refers to the sending and receipt of messages containing graphics, video, or other media. These are both distinct from mobile e-mail, which allows users to send and receive messages via e-mail server. Finally, “alert” allows users to receive short, non-disruptive in-application alert indicators.
Successful m-business solutions comprise both vertical applications and the horizontal service components that support them. Both of these can be developed using a variety of device-dependent tools and technologies.Vertical Mobile Solutions
Vertical solutions are transaction-specific applications that are native, Web-based, or message-based. This type of application can be geared toward the consumer or the employee, and the utility of mobile access to data and transaction functionality is seemingly unlimited. Just a few examples of enterprise-enhancing solutions include:
- Mobile Web applications to connect consumers with sellers, including contact information and inventory data (such as for a particular auto brand), or to provide personalized access to user manuals, account information, transaction histories, and other data
- Native apps that connect consumers with service providers (such as an auto shop or lawn service) to facilitate tracking and record keeping
- An application that allows rapid, seamless rebooking of a flight following a cancellation
- An expense processing system that allows employees to submit expenses via mobile device and track the progress of reimbursement
- Applications to facilitate order management, scheduling, and inventory control, designed for consumers, production, or sales staff; such solutions could include alerts about necessary refills or low materials stock
The vertical solutions outlined above require various types of device-independent horizontal support. One important function is the processing of business rules, such as user authentication, payment authorization methods, and transaction limits. Transaction processing and payment gateway services also require common functionality. The extended “wallet services” of e-business, related to security and storage of user data, payment vehicles, and transaction tracking, are also crucial to successful m-business solutions. Other functions that are shared across vertical applications include:
- Call center, provisioning, and administration services
- Reporting and logging
- Dynamic data access
- Application framework services, such as policy management and distributed computing
Each mobile platform requires development tools and technologies specific to the device:
- Visual Studio, WP Simulator, Silverlight, and Registration Tool for Windows phones
- BB JDK, Webkit, Widget Development, BES Server, and BlackBerry API for BlackBerry
- Eclipse, Android SDK, and Android Simulator for Android
- Web OS SDK, Web Widget developer, and Palm Emulator for Palm
- XCode, Interface Builder, iOS SDK, iPhone/ iPad Simulator, and Cocoa Touch framework for Apple
Mobile isn’t likely to replace traditional heavy-duty enterprise applications on desktops in the near term. But it is perfectly suited for business use cases that demand anytime, anywhere access. Building innovative solutions that leverage the capabilities of robust mobile devices can expand market share and enhance productivity. Therefore, mobile enablement of enterprise applications must be considered as part of the overall customer, employee, and partner engagement strategy. While security remains an important architectural consideration, technical and business solutions are now in place to adequately secure the mobile devices. Enterprises proactively seeking a mobile portfolio are well positioned to achieve a higher engagement level with stakeholders, thus greater loyalty for continued success.
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