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Enterprise Mobility Strategy

An enterprise mobility strategy is less about managing mobile devices and more about being an advocate for the business to enable the business to integrate and deliver new and innovative business services faster. The following guidelines can assist in your enterprise mobility strategy.

/ Start with the End in Mind - Business Goals

Before embarking on an enterprise mobility journey, you should be answering a few very important questions; Firstly, how do your employees and customers interface with your business and consume your core products and services today? Secondly, does the ability to engage with your company through mobility create new opportunities for your business, and if so, how can you capitalise on those opportunities? Are there new applications or interfaces that need to be developed? And finally, do processes need to be re-engineered or infrastructure upgraded and better-managed in order to deliver the right experience for your employees and customers?

/ Choose the Right Experience - Native vs Hybrid

The hybrid vs. native topic is fiercely debated in the mobile application development space. In order to motivate Tangent’s recommendation it is important to understand both approaches. The argument for and against hybrid and native is often overly simplified to: “Native is better but hybrid is quicker”. The debate is far more complex and cannot be considered so black and white.

hybrid vs native

> Hybrid Applications

Hybrid applications are developed using HTML5 and Javascript which are then wrapped in a native container like PhoneGap.

The arguments for hybrid application development include:

  • Multiple platforms can be developed off a single code base providing quicker time to market to the different application stores.
  • Native-like user experiences can now be provided by hybrid applications.
  • More customizable user interface options allow for greater flexibility and allow strong corporate identity branding.
  • Performance of hybrid applications using JavaScript architectures such as AngularJS and Backbone ensure highly comparable performance to native applications.
  • Using well published and community supported plug-in, the phone's functionalities can be easily accessed.
  • Extending and building custom plug-in can easily be done using the native languages.
  • Industry leaders such as Google, Microsoft and Adobe are backing hybrid technologies.
  • Applications are more easily maintained once the applications have been released as only a single codebase needs to be employed.
  • A more aggressive functional roadmap can be followed.

> Native Applications

Native applications are built using the technologies used by the platform or operating system, hence the term ‘native’. As there are many different phones/platforms being used, the technologies used to develop native applications are separate and different. They include xCode, Java Android, C#/WinJS amongst others.

The arguments for native applications include:

  • Native applications are better looking.
  • Native applications have better performance.
  • A better user experience can be provided as native applications easily make use of the platform’s user paradigm.
  • It is easy to extend native applications to use the phone’s functionality e.g. camera, GPS, contact list etc.
  • The application stores accept native applications more readily.
  • There is improved compatibility across the different devices running the OS.
  • User interface is faster to develop on native applications.

The arguments against native applications include:

  • Mobile apps are targeted for a specific device, and it is difficult to port an app from one platform to another.
  • Successful apps have to be continuously updated and every platform needs to be updated individually.

/ Strive for Continuous Application Delivery

Mobile users have grown to expect weekly or even daily updates to mobile apps. Developing for mobility requires short development cycles, frequent revisions, and an ability to support a growing number of target mobile platforms.

If a business is to be successful in today’s world, it has to be agile in terms of listening and responding to customer needs.

/ Use APIs to Deliver a Seamless User Experience

The mobility revolution puts incredible power in the hands of the end user, but that power depends on access to back-end information systems. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) encapsulate back-end information systems, allowing them to be leveraged by front-end mobile applications for entirely new uses.

> Make Sure APIs are Secure

Done right, APIs are a way for companies to tap into entirely new markets and new customers. Done wrong, APIs open the enterprise up to a huge array of new attack vectors for hackers to exploit. The unfortunate irony is that the same things that make APIs great also make them a perfect target for hackers.

/ Managing Information is Everything

Data is at the heart of any enterprise mobility strategy. You need to understand what happens to the data that is being used on these mobile devices.

It’s important to ask the following questions;

  • What information do people need on their mobile devices?
  • What are they going to do with that data?
  • Will they need to make changes to it?
  • How do you ensure access to data, even in locations where cell service is spotty?
  • Is it OK to cache data on mobile devices?
  • How are you going to protect your data while in transit over the network, or stored on the device that’s outside your firewalls?

/ Take Control with an End-to-End Security Strategy

Part and parcel of ensuring that the right people have access to the right information is determining the user’s identity and enforcing proper role based access and security policies are in place. Many organisations believe that mobile security should be focused on the device or the app, but you should take a more holistic view. As we expose new mobile-oriented services (such as APIs), you must secure the backend integration and the transactions that are happening between the client and the back-end servers. Without comprehensive security, exposing these different services opens your organisation to many different threats.

> Leveraging Security Standards

The proper security measures should always be taken into account for securing mobile apps and associated services. This might mean taking advantage of the different types of security solutions available rather than building your own.

> Balancing Security with User Experience

Another key consideration for mobile security is that the mobile device is built around convenience. Mobile security works best when it doesn’t infringe on the intuitive user experience of the mobile platform itself.

Adapted from Arun Bhattacharya, Steps to Create an Unbeatable Enterprise Mobility Strategy: April 2014.

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