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The power of true mobility

01 Feb 12

According to the 2011 Unisys Consumerisation of IT survey, conducted by IDC, 14 per cent of Kiwi iWorkers said they use iPhones for work purposes, compared with just 2 per cent in 2010. By 2012, 10 per cent of Kiwi iWorkers expect that iPhones or other smartphones will be their most critical business devices in 2012, compared to five percent currently.
Furthermore, developments in technology have made traditional computing possible on smaller devices. Increasing processor power, reduced memory costs and smaller, more efficient chipsets have led to terminals, tablets, netbooks and smartphones costing less and with fewer moving parts. Never before in the history of IT have consumer devices and applications been more technologically advanced than their corporate device counterparts.
Does this mean the end of high end servers? Ironically, mobile devices have given the mainframe a new lease of life.
Moving with the times
By embracing the trend of mobile devices, organisations can satisfy customer, employee and partner expectations. At the same time, organisations can benefit from the increased productivity these devices allow. In addition, advanced functionality and ability to easily work outside the office can also help organisations reduce their carbon footprint, recruit better talent, enable better collaboration across employees and partners, provide employees with a better work-life balance, and much more.
At the coalface, employees can work in real-time while out in the field; place orders anytime, anywhere; and confirm deliveries away from the office. From any given location, staff can locate, track and secure vehicle fleets, or conduct meetings with partners or employees from multiple locations with video conferencing. Even business processes such as customer relationship management (CRM), sales force automation (SFR), and enterprise resource planning (ERP) can be mobilised.
According to the Unisys Consumerisation of IT research 12 per cent of Kiwi organisations plan to develop mobile apps for use by their employees in the next 12 months. This will enable greater efficiency in existing business processes by allowing access to update corporate data while out of the office, as well as the potential to develop whole new business models made possible by mobile applications.
Mobility and the Mainframe
Ironically, while smartphones and tablets are fast replacing desktops as critical business devices, they bring a new lease of life to the mainframe. IT and service management applications are one of the key areas being redeveloped to be used on mobile devices so that IT managers have increased flexibility in managing their organisation’s servers. This means they can work from multiple locations, while still monitoring system utilisation, available memory, waiting entries and policy compliance. Unisys has even built dynamic application support into its ClearPath servers to handle the frequent logging in and out that is typical of mobile users.
However working from a smartphone doesn’t mean accepting a compromise in security or functionality. For example, Unisys’ ClearPath MCP Mobile Monitor App enables an IT manager to work remotely using an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, while still having desktop functionality. And performance history, complete with graphs and historical summaries are available for reference. In addition, security is taken care of by iOS Keychain which stores server passwords in the mobile device and Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) which encrypts data exchanged between the mobile device and the ClearPath MCP server.
In addition, organisations may choose to make their applications available as Software as a Service (SaaS) via a private cloud so that sensitive corporate data does not sit on the device itself, but rather resides on the company’s secured mainframe where access to the data can be protected via encryption and setting "communities of interest” so that only those who should have access can access the data.
The big picture
Organisations can reap fantastic benefits from mobilising existing processes with smart devices, but there is also potential for much more. Mobile enablement is an opportunity to re-think and re-design business models and processes. Making applications work with mobile devices makes them real business tools and helps organisations improve the efficiency of existing business processes or even create whole new business models.
Making it happen
Many business applications are now available online for mobile devices. These programmes are often easy to set up and some even allow you to turn your existing applications into iPhone and iPad applications. For example the ClearPath ePortal specialty engine is used to modernise mission-critical enterprise applications without altering the app itself so that it can be accessed on mobile phones via easy-to-use web interfaces. In addition, some point and click graphical solutions mean applications don’t even require programming, like the Unisys’ ClearPath MCP Mobile Monitor App available via the Apple App Store. This approach is particularly important in these cost conscious times when organisations want to increase the functionality of existing IT infrastructure rather than "rip and replace” the whole thing.
With smart devices, people can have the choice and flexibility they demand, and organisations can continue to manage costs and security and provide support. Mobilising processes can bring improved productivity, efficiency, quality and even better working relationships across multiple levels in an organisation. Now the technology is here to safeguard and facilitate business processes, organisations have the freedom to enhance their businesses with mobilisation technology, from changing customers’ experience at the coalface to creating entire new business models.
NOTE: New Zealand was one of nine countries surveyed as part of the 2011 Unisys-sponsored Consumerisation of IT study conducted by IDC. The research is based on responses from two separate but related surveys. The New Zealand studies surveyed, respectively, 200 iWorkers within organisations and 25 IT department executives and managers

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