Enterprise mobility is driving the need for mobile business apps. We examine the new shift from client-server environments to cloud based mobile apps, which are serving multiple devices and operating systems and driving rapid change and innovation.
As enterprise mobility drives the need for mobile business apps, enterprise software vendors are increasingly being forced to reengineer their product and service offerings. The shift from client-server environments to cloud based mobile apps, serving multiple devices and operating systems is driving rapid change and innovation.
Salesforce.com's mobile support is currently ahead of Oracle and SAP. Cisco's mobile collaboration tools are available on most platforms and are currently ahead of Microsoft. The key is the creation of engaging mobile apps for at least iOS, Android, and BlackBerry, and whilst the big enterprise vendors battle to reinvent themselves in this new landscape, a host of new innovative players are offering mobile collaboration apps.
Based on the Forrester report, Mobilise Your Collaboration Strategy, that identified eight “must have” categories of mobile collaboration apps, here is a list of innovators:
- Email and calendars. Email is the most important mobile app. According to Forrester, 87% of smartphone workers use email on their devices. Gmail and Google Calendar are market leaders. A recent product getting excellent reviews is Touchdown which offers Microsoft Exchange support for Android devices.
- Document-based collaboration. Mobile workers need to be able to access their documents while out of the office on any of their devices. Dataviz’s Documents to Go is a mobile document editing app and when combined with a cloud file sync service like Dropbox or box.net, allows users to access and edit their documents no matter where they are. Soonr is a cloud-based document sync service offering integrated MS Office document editing capabilities, which means users don’t need to use a separate app like Documents to Go.
- Web conferencing. According to Forrester, 18% of information workers and 34% of senior staff use web conferencing at least weekly. Fuze Meeting’s new Telepresence Connect service can extend traditional room-based telepresence to iPads and Android tablets. Join.me. LogMeIn’s simple and easy-to-use web conferencing app is accessible through iOS and Android apps.
- Activity streams. Forrester thinks that activity streams are becoming a critical resource for organisations that work collectively: sales teams, project teams, and executive staff, for example. Salesforce’s Chatter and Yammer are popular enterprise social networking tools very much like a private Facebook for the enterprise and offer mobile support though mobile apps available for a variety of platforms. Socialtext is another enterprise social networking and collaboration app that offers activity streams. TIBCO and Qontext are also extending their offerings in this space.
- Presence and chat. Knowing whether a colleague is available or not. Forrester expects adoption to accelerate. These types of features are often also often included in other mobile collaboration tools. eBuddy is a popular mobile chat app that supports AIM, ICQ, Google Talk, Yahoo! and MSN Windows Live Messenger within a single interface and is available for Android and iPhone. IM+ supports AIM, iChat, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo, ICQ, Jabber, Google Talk, Facebook, Twitter and Skype Chat, and works on all mobile platforms.
- Social collaboration. In this category, Forrester includes access to internal blogs, wikis, community sites, and social networks from a tablet or smartphone. IBM Lotus Connections social suite is supported on a range of mobile platforms, including Android, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry and Nokia. Jive Software’s enterprise social suite provides mobile access though apps for iPhone and BlackBerry.
- Expertise location. Forrester says that this type of application is on the rise as firms look for ways to make mobile employees productive by helping them identify experts from anywhere. This type of app brings together presence, notifications and social profiles. Leaders here include IBM Lotus Connections, Jive Software, Yammer and Socialtext.
- Video conferencing. Skype has some 170 million active monthly users, and 39% of those people use Skype for work. Web conferencing vendors are also adding video to their products. Fring is an app that brings four-way video calls to the iPad.
Enterprise mobility is dependent upon creating intuitive and easy to use mobile business apps. The traditional IT architecture of client server is rapidly becoming obsolete. Building an architecture of devices, services and the mobile app Internet (including HTML5 browsers) on smart mobile devices and cloud-hosted infrastructures is the future.