How to Achieve Device Independence by Taking a Platform Approach to Mobility

By Jason Wong  |  Posted 2010-07-22

How to Achieve Device Independence by Taking a Platform Approach to Mobility

In just 10 years, the wireless smartphone market has gone from virtually nonexistent to becoming a household term worldwide. At the start of the millennium, Research in Motion (RIM) was pretty much the only significant vendor selling what were then called "wireless PDAs." Today, there are no less than six major operating systems for smartphones. Currently, they account for 14 percent of overall mobile device sales, but it is expected that by 2012 they will make up about 37 percent of global handset sales.

Today, scores of smartphones are offered on the market, offering consumers and businesses a wide variety of options for both personal and enterprise needs. However, they have also presented a challenge for organizations looking to deploy enterprise-wide mobile solutions. Given all the device choices, as a business or IT executive, what are you to do?

If you have already embraced mobility for your workforce, great! However, there are a number of new smartphones coming to market at a breakneck pace that enterprises are trying to seamlessly integrate into their strategy. Conversely, many organizations have yet to implement a mobility strategy of any kind because of the daunting number and constantly evolving amount of choices on the market. How can you ensure that your investment is not obsolete by the time you deploy?

Platform Is the Answer

Platform is the answer

What's the answer to both scenarios just mentioned? In a word: platform. When planning a mobility strategy, the natural inclination may be to start with one device type and lock into it for simplicity and manageability. But today's hot device could be tomorrow's paperweight. A platform approach to mobility can minimize the dependency on the device by ensuring that new devices and technologies are easily integrated into the mobile solution.

Using a mobility platform, IT does not have to use multiple software tools to manage users and applications across multiple device types. They are freed up to design and deploy the best possible applications without being constrained by device limitations or management and control concerns-today and in the future. Also, because IT can easily manage multiple types of smartphones, business users can choose the appropriate device type for their work profile without overburdening IT resources.

With the ability to adopt anything from a rugged Windows Mobile device for technicians to a BlackBerry for salespeople or an iPhone for management, business units can use whatever devices best suit the job at hand and the unique wants and needs of the users. This freedom of choice will help to drive adoption and increase the usability and effectiveness of the applications on workers' devices.

When an enterprise adopts a mobility platform that supports multiple mobile devices, it provides its employees with unprecedented tools for productivity and efficiency. It also empowers IT to discover and create new applications to maximize mobility from end-to-end.

Mobility Platform Case Study

Mobility platform case study

A leading provider of automobile glass repair and replacement services in the United States took a platform approach to mobility rather than building a solution internally for a single device. They understood that developing a mobile solution themselves would require a serious learning curve and that it would not easily evolve with changing technologies-on both the device side and with any back-end software changes that they may make.

By developing applications on a mobility platform, this company was able to test different devices until they found the right one for its team of 3,500 field technicians. Through the course of the mobile project, they replaced three very different devices and made a number of changes to their back office software. With a platform in place, the mobile applications were insulated from these changes.

Without a platform, these same applications would have required major rewrites every time they were deployed to a new device. Now standardized on BlackBerry devices, this organization can confidently support field technicians with a simple, easy-to-use solution and change hardware in the future if the need arises.

Multiple Devices for Multiple Workgroups

Multiple devices for multiple workgroups

Some companies know right off the bat that they need to support multiple devices for multiple purposes and workgroups. A mail processing equipment and solutions provider (and pioneer in using wireless technology) realized that the only way to have a scalable and flexible mobile solution that grew with their business was to utilize a mobility platform. As they integrated their business units across the globe, the mobility platform allowed the company to offer a variety of smartphones to satisfy the different requirements of its business units.

Today, this organization uses a single mobile platform to easily support its 5,000 field workers in Europe and North America using a mix of BlackBerry and Windows Mobile smartphones. Plus, they have the freedom and flexibility to change these devices at any time to meet new business needs.

Device proliferation is here to stay. If you think that one device type will meet all the needs of your mobile workers, think again. If you're paralyzed by the plethora of smartphones, fear not. By taking a platform approach to mobility, you can achieve true device independence and enable your organization to focus on leveraging the right devices and building the proper applications to gain an edge over your competition.

Jason Wong is Senior Product Marketing Manager at Antenna Software. Jason is responsible for product messaging and strategy. For more than a decade, Jason has worked in the worlds of mobility and enterprise software, from startups to large, national telecommunications companies. He can be reached at

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