Making the Connections
Corporations demand more customized services and a high level of integration between the desktop and the wireless device. What's more, today's mobile workers require more than cookie-cutter solutions. Different types of workers use different devices—mobile phones, PDAs, laptops, or smartphones—based on what is most practical and convenient when and where they need access to information and how they need to interact with the data.
At Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH), a global technology and management consultancy, one-third of its over 15,000 employees can be on the road on any given day. "We are moving away from the notion that we have a non-mobile staff to the idea that everybody's mobile within the organization but some are more mobile than others," notes George Tillmann, the company's CIO.
To accommodate its growing ranks of road warriors, BAH has responded with a company-wide program called Traveller Friendly Apps. "Our objective is to reshape our content and applications so it's easier for staff to work and research remotely," Tillmann explains. "We still have a business library, but now essentially it's for electronic communication and capture. This has really changed how we work, and it will continue to change as more content and applications become available to support team collaboration."
Taking Charge of Change
For most companies, extending the range and definition of the desktop involves mobilizing content and applications. However, to harness the power of mobility and unleash productivity, companies are well-advised to develop and implement a mobile connectivity strategy, observes Philippe Bernard, group VP at Orange Business Solutions. "This approach to mobility brings the enterprise the greatest gains in business value."
This development effectively forces operators to move up the value chain to offer services and support, and work more closely with content partners and applications providers to deliver targeted, timely information. To this end, Bernard says Orange is currently "exploring opportunities to boost its enterprise offerings with solutions such as B2B portals that might bundle business-critical information and other forms of content to enable the real-time, real-life-aware enterprise."
Looking ahead, companies will need to adapt to changing market demands and—ultimately—evolve into real-time enterprises that operate with maximum speed and pinpoint accuracy, a strategy HP dubbed the adaptive enterprise. "What makes the adaptive enterprise unique is that it not only survives change, it thrives in the face of change by driving business strategy and processes into the underlying applications and infrastructure to fuel business progress," Rotthier explains.
While most mobile content and data models focus on delivering information to users who request it, XIAM—an Irish provider of software products for mobile content delivery, management, and merchandising—promotes a different approach: "Our solution is focused on making sure users know when there is a relevant piece of content available they might want to access on a mobile device," according to Colm Healy, XIAM CEO.
XIAM's solution effectively drives mobile data services by allowing service providers to move from a model of "content delivery to rich content vending," Healy explains. Its flagship product, XIAM Content Platform, creates user profiles based on past activities and content choices. It also includes subscription and scheduling modules to support targeted and personalized delivery scenarios based on user data.
"If we have an 18-year-old girl who lives in London and has a history of purchasing content around Britney Spears, then she's likely to be interested in news about a Britney Spears concert in London," Healy explains. "This information is essential to increasing usage and revenues. To drive content uptake we have to be sure the content is relevant to the time, location, and type of user—otherwise users will wait until they get to a PC and access the Internet."
While his primary target group is mobile operators, Healy believes that content aggregators and enterprises will also benefit from XIAM's solution. "It all has to do with knowing who your individual users are and delivering the services that are relevant to them," he says. "Whether it's B2C or B2B, the game is the same."
But content, no matter how customized, is worthless to the enterprise if it is outdated. In the supply chain, for example, companies—as well as customers, suppliers, and partners—record business-critical transactions using a plethora of mobile devices including smartphones, laptops, and even barcode scanners. Users can capture data, but problems occur when they try to publish that information back to the enterprise servers and share it with their colleagues.
"Most products are talking system-to-system or application-to-application," notes Richard Treadway, VP of marketing and strategy at KnowNow, a U.S.-based provider of Internet middleware. "They forget to factor in people." According to Treadway, KnowNow sets data in motion by enabling a new class of applications that deliver secure, real-time asynchronous data through firewalls over HTTP. Put simply, its Internet publish-subscribe technology is designed to allow exchanges of real-time data between enterprise systems, browsers, spreadsheets, desktop applications, and mobile devices, enabling enterprises to become more event-driven organizations.
KnowNow has found the options and futures trading sector to be appreciative of its approach. At NYMEX, traders were using paper-based histories to help them make decisions on the trading floor. The histories were quickly outdated by new information, and traders had no way to collaborate with each other, brokers, or the market makers who depend on them. KnowNow and its partners responded with a solution that converts real-time NYMEX market data and delivers it over a Wi-Fi network to traders' tablet PCs. This allows traders to share the data in real-time. Additionally, new trade data is delivered directly to the NYMEX data entry room, eliminating the need for clerks to gather and deliver trades on individual pieces of paper for data entry.