Archive for June, 2009

Devices: What comes first, the device or the application?

June 21, 2009


The new age of collaboration and mobility is a wonderful thing – colleagues and connections can be contacted any time, anywhere.


Individuals with all-singing and all-dancing handheld devices, such as iPhones, BlackBerrys and smartphones, can stay connected through a variety of applications.


The result is that users are busily downloading applications for a range of devices. From instant messaging to Facebook and from current affairs to games, individuals are finding ways to run loved applications on their favourite devices.


It all sounds like a new, collaborative age – but sometimes, we’re just too clever for our own good and user experiences can be patchy. The main problem is that the chosen method of application development is often the wrong way round.


Most organisations are prioritising devices. As a result, many businesses recognise more of their customers are using high power mobile devices and are retrofitting their existing applications to handheld devices.


Sounds good, in theory – but the problem is that most applications are designed with one platform in mind. And as applications are pushed across platforms, users are often left with is a poor quality experience.


In practice, we should create an alternative method of development: a need for software should be identified, and the application then created and designed for a specific device.


Second, when considering whether to put an application on a device, companies must also consider whether the tool is appropriate for the device.


How many people chose to do their online banking through a TV? Would you look at your bank statements in front of your family and friends? More specifically, would you want to fill out a lengthy mortgage application form on a mobile phone?


Other examples are not hard to find. How will workers make best use of essential enterprise applications – such as word processing and spreadsheet software – in the mobile age?


Such questions require a significant step change in the way we create applications – in short, businesses must recognise that the design of the application, and a consideration of the device, is absolutely crucial.


Once firms have decided the functionality is appropriate they can then design for the specific screen estate. This method will help prevent over-invention and ensure users are exploiting the right channel for the right purpose.


Certain applications – such as word processing, social networking and location-based services – are quickly becoming a mobile necessity. Your workers will expect to have devices that provide an intuitive link to their favourite applications.


We have a fantastic opportunity to allow our employees to collaborate in new and innovative ways – but only if our mobile devices allow us to make best use of our favourite applications.


The 2nd Wave of Mobile Applications

June 18, 2009

From the banking crisis to rising unemployment levels, the downturn has had a number of damaging effects.

 Losing your job and struggling to repay your mortgage is an all too visible sign of the recession. But some affects are more underlying.

 Businesses – and IT leaders, more specifically – are continually being told of the need to innovate their way out of the downturn. Attend any conference at the moment and the message is the same: those that continue to invest will be best prepared for an upturn.

 So much for the rhetoric – while it is one thing aiming for innovation, it is quite another investing in new areas of business IT. Having to account closely for all areas of spending means some projects are being delayed or shelved.

 The consequential affects on innovation are clear. And mobile device development is one outlying area of development that has been affected by the recession. In particular, the downturn has helped apply the breaks on the quicker emergence of a second wave of mobile devices.

 User spending on mobile entertainment services will slow dramatically, increasing by nearly $13bn during the next five years, according to Juniper Research. The analyst previously predicted pre-downturn growth of $26bn (see further reading, below).

 The new figure represents a significant drop. But $13bn still represents a considerable increase when other areas of IT and telecom development are stalling.

 And while spending on high cost content is slower than might have been anticipated, businesses are continuing to invest is in the area of mobile services.

 Analysts suggest mobile social networking, applications and broadband will continue to receive significant investment (see further reading), helping to support the emerging bandwagon of a ‘desktop in your pocket’.

 Take Apple’s iPhone, with its excellent web-browser rendering and billion-selling, or freely downloaded, apps (see further reading). The success of the iPhone shows how users are already benefiting from a second wave of mobility, where individuals can stay connected and create knowledge through an easy-to-use interface.

 Reports suggest the level of mobile and online activity is increasing in importance, with people today spending more than 20% of their time consuming ‘new media’ (see further reading).

 The message is clear. When times are tight, businesses are unlikely to spend on expensive content that has an indeterminate value. At the same time, they will continue to invest on usable mobile technologies that help boost collaboration and provide access to information.

 So when the green shoots of recovery sprout, make sure your business users already have access to a desktop in the pocket.


Further reading