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Enterprise mobility still a moving target

IT professionals sometimes like to think of themselves as innovators or even explorers, developing and deploying new, exciting technologies that may someday become industry mainstays. However, before the real work even begins, there must be a solid business reason for the technology exploration.

With this in mind, recently sat down with Daniel Taylor, founder and managing director of the Mobile Enterprise Alliance, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the implementation of mobile technologies in the workplace.

@10367 Taylor shared his thoughts on what he believes makes a good business case for mobile technology deployment and how to successfully manage mobile applications once they're up and running.

What would be a good reason to deploy mobile technology in the enterprise, and what would be a bad reason?
A good reason to deploy mobile technology is because a company has a mobile workforce that needs some form of mobile computing. A bad reason to deploy a mobile technology is simply because the technology exists. Deploying a technology just because it's there is not a good reason to do it. The reason to do it is because there are mobile workers and a business case behind the deployment. How can a decision maker say no to a proposed mobile application deployment when a business case can't be made for it, but it's a top executive that's requesting it? Doesn't that create a difficult situation?
When it's somebody at a higher level of an organization, such as a vice president, then the response -- and I think many IT managers know this programmed response -- is to say, 'Well, then we need to find budget for this project.' Everything comes down to cost and budget.

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How do IT departments successfully manage mobile applications when often there are a number of different types of devices being used throughout a company?
Some organizations architect and plan for that. Fortunately, there are a number of software platforms on the market that have the ability to push network policy or IT policy out to the devices. That way, a network admin can administer policy across a multitude of mobile devices at one time. The mobile middleware space has really been a key enabler for this.

Ultimately, there is no such thing as a single platform for mobility. BlackBerry is probably the closest thing that we have, and even RIM [Research In Motion Ltd.] has realized that the BlackBerry client is not going to be the only client out there. Everybody realizes that there's no way to get every single deployment down to one device. What are your thoughts on the state of the marketplace as a whole?
Looking at everything that's going on, from the software space to devices and the hardware to the services themselves, it's tremendous. RIM has done a great job, but there are tons of other companies out there doing interesting things. Intel Centrino has done so much for mobility by coupling a Wi-Fi chip set with a mobile processor. That's a tremendous thing. What developments do you see on the mobile technology horizon? What will we be talking about a year from now?
I think middleware is going to be very much an issue. Deployment strategies and business cases are still going to be very important. But beyond that, we're going to be looking at two real things.

One is a broader discussion about network availability. It's not at the forefront of people's minds yet. I think that there's going to be more discussion about that expectation of availability because everything we're doing right now with enterprise applications is all about synchronization.

The second is Voice over Internet Protocol and the convergence of telephony applications with traditional enterprise applications. This is going to become especially important as we actually start to see this happening on the devices. There's still a tremendous amount of work that we have to do just in terms of putting together business offers for wireless services. Telephony is 99% of all mobility spending right now. So that's where the money's going and nobody's talking about it.

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