|Power i Forecast: Mobile Technology|
|Networking - Wireless / Mobile|
|Written by Chris Smith|
|Monday, 04 June 2012 00:00|
The growth in mobile will have a huge impact on business, and IBM has introduced already-mature software and services to accelerate business adoption of mobile technologies.
Computer systems have evolved over the past 50 years in the general direction of becoming smaller and less expensive. First, there was the mainframe. Next came the mini- or midrange computer. This was followed by the PC. Each evolution was always less powerful than the one preceding it, but it was "good enough" for many business functions, and it always was significantly less expensive—a big incentive for profit-driven business.
The fourth generation in this historical evolution is coming into focus more clearly every day: it is the mobile device. Whether smartphone or tablet, the mobile computer gives people doing the work the freedom to leave the office but continue to work. Being able to get two things done at once—such as pick up your child from school while answering a client's question—is a form of multitasking, and it removes the limitation people have traditionally had of working on one thing at a time in linear fashion. Working on two or more things at the same time means you can get more done with fewer delays.
The figures supporting the upward trend in mobile device use worldwide is nothing short of startling. There are some 5.9 billion mobile phones being used today among a world population of 7 billion people, according to www.CultureLabel.com. If each phone were being used by a single person, one would conclude that 87 percent of the world's population was using a mobile phone. It's undoubtedly less than that since some have multiple accounts. Nevertheless, within the next couple of years, there will be more mobile phones in use on the planet than there are people. In the U.S., virtually everyone old enough to speak has a mobile phone. Not everyone has a smartphone yet, however, and it will be awhile before all mobile devices can browse the Internet. Nevertheless, there are some 1.2 billion mobile Web users worldwide, and smartphones represent about 42 percent of the U.S. mobile industry.
However, even a feature phone can send text messages, and it's clear that it's less expensive to send a text than to burn up time talking to someone and run over your allowable minutes. People are spending less time actually talking on their mobile phones and more time doing other things. They are emailing and texting, and, with the advent of smartphones, searching, browsing, and engaging in social media activities on any number of social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. Talking is old school and boring as the parent of any teenager will tell you. Some 81 percent of smartphone users today use their phones for Internet browsing, 50 percent for social networking, and 77 percent for searching. Of those that search online, 95 percent have looked up local information. As of May 2012, Facebook now has over 900 million active users. About 50 percent of them log in by a mobile device at least once a month. There are even some 200 million mobile video playbacks on YouTube every single day.
Just in case you were locked away in your office and didn't quite understand what is going on outside, it's huge, it's worldwide, and it's definitely mobile. With the double-digit surge in consumer uptake of mobile services, we know that business can't be far behind. Alas, most businesses failed early on to anticipate the tremendous surge in mobile use. As of late 2011, when the last available survey was taken, only 79 percent of Fortune 500 companies had a mobile-optimized Web site. Anyone searching on a mobile device for information about these companies' products or services was going to have a rather frustrating experience trying to read text that displayed in 4-point type or struggling to scroll back and forth across the screen 20 times to read a single sentence.
"It's no secret that throughout the last decade, the most successful organizations have been quick to leverage new technology for business advantage," says Marie Wieck, General Manager, IBM Application and Integration Middleware.
Those companies that haven't done so are, nevertheless, beginning to catch up in a hurry, and many have finally realized the tremendous opportunity today to extend their existing services to customers, partners, and employees through the use of mobile technology. A few even see the coming opportunities to offer new mobile services that are unrelated to services they currently offer. In a recent IBM survey of 700 CIOs, three-quarters said they are embracing a mobile strategy. They justified the investment by stating that evidence suggests mobile use, particularly when combined with cloud services, can decrease dependence on email, improve social collaboration, and deliver an overall improvement in productivity up to 20 percent. By 2014, business use of smartphones will have reached a penetration rate of 62 percent, according to IDC. For IBM and its Business Partners, this translates into a huge market opportunity.
How big is huge? Let's figure about $22 billion today and heading toward $36 billion by 2015. This represents the appetite that businesses have today and will have over the next few years for hardware, software, and services to support the emergence of mobile technologies. IBM has been building up its quiver of mobile arrows for the past decade, developing solutions and acquiring companies, all the time just waiting for the mobile market to ripen. It seems that with the buzz about mobile permeating the recent IBM Impact 2012 conference in Las Vegas, that moment may have finally arrived. More than 8,500 technology professionals attended the Impact conference, and much of the discussion centered on new IBM's PureSystems servers and mobile offerings.
While CIOs may be directing their staffs to come up with mobile solutions, the developers in the trenches who must figure out how to get it done are, in many cases, still scratching their heads. There are numerous issues to overcome—from application management and integration, to endpoint security, to subtle questions surrounding business process management. The trend toward "bring your own device," or BYOD, is accelerating faster than IT departments have been actively able to respond to it.
According to Bob Sutor, IBM Vice President of WebSphere Foundation and IBM Mobile, system integrators are considering just how they are going to handle customer requests in this new area and are looking at the available tools for mobile development. They would like to settle on one or two of the best mobile platforms so they can focus their efforts in a single area. Apparently, they want flexibility to handle different use cases and open standards to ensure applications run on multiple devices. At the Impact conference, IBM announced a complete Foundation for Mobile Computing that it's hoping will meet the needs of system integrators, mobile app developers, management, and users alike. It includes a collection of software solutions and services that address the broader needs enterprises will face after they adopt mobile technology, needs that go far beyond just building a simple mobile application.
We recently looked at the mobile development tools from vendors in the midrange space exhibiting at COMMON (see "New Tools, Insights, and Solutions Mark COMMON 2012 Vendor Announcements"), so here we will focus on the IBM's new Mobile Foundation announced at Impact 2012. The Foundation consists of the following components:
IBM Worklight—This is a set of development and integration tools that allows organizations to build mobile applications and their supporting infrastructures for a variety of platforms. The idea is to build once and run on any mobile platform, whether it be Apple iOS, Google Android, Windows Phone 7, or BlackBerry. IBM plans to provide at no charge the technical skill-building information that developers will need to begin creating secure mobile solutions. These training nuggets will be found at IBM developerWorks and will cover building everything from simple applications to integrated Web-based and native architectures. Worklight consists of four main components, including Worklight Studio, Worklight Server, Worklight Device Runtime Components, and Worklight Console.
IBM WebSphere Cast Iron—There are several WebSphere Cast Iron implementations, and even an appliance, but basically this is integration software that, in the context of mobile, allows you to connect mobile applications to a variety of cloud and back-end systems. In the larger context, WebSphere Cast Iron Cloud Integration enables companies to rapidly connect a hybrid world of public clouds, private clouds, and on-premise applications using templates and a "configuration, not coding" approach to address the lifecycle of cloud integration. Also, new capabilities designed into IBM Data Power Appliances can help IT departments quickly bring their existing resources to mobile devices.
IBM Endpoint Manager for Mobile Devices—IBM now has embraced the growing BYOD trend and allows employees to buy and use their own smartphones and tablets for work tasks. By the end of 2012, some 200,000 IBMers will be able to connect handheld devices of their choosing to IBM's internal networks. The challenge for IT departments of users bringing their own securable devices (BYOSD) to work and accessing enterprise data obviously does have a solution. If you can wipe the device clean should it be lost or stolen, that can go a long way toward protecting sensitive information. Very strong passwords also can help, and IBM requires that agents be installed on employee devices.
The new Foundation for Mobile Computing includes new software from IBM Tivoli Endpoint Manager that's designed to be a single solution that both manages and secures all endpoints—regardless of whether they are servers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, or even specialty devices such as point-of-sale terminals. Even virtual endpoints can be managed. With Endpoint Manager, you can safeguard data with advanced security and compliance features and gain enterprise visibility with a consolidated inventory of employee and corporate-owned devices. There is a raft of individual solutions out there for each of the different types of smartphones, but Endpoint Manager is a single platform that can manage all your enterprise devices. You can download IBM Tivoli Endpoint Manager for a free 30-day evaluation; the trial software is limited to 30 endpoints.
IBM Quick Win Pilot—Part of the problem in adopting new technologies, such as mobile, is the extreme lag time in learning which end of the software box to open first. Months can go by before anything ever happens and before people learn how to implement what initially was a high-priority initiative. If you truly want to take advantage of new business opportunities quickly, then it may just be easier to bite the bullet and pay for some genuine trained help. IBM Quick Win Pilot is a new set of services that can help users with their mobile strategy deployment. At the conclusion of a 10-week (or less) pilot, users are able to implement a defined use case with IBM mobile technology and achieve measurable results.
Because mobile devices need to access enterprise data such as email, calendars, and product information, mobile technologies go hand in hand with cloud technologies. Using collaboration software on mobile devices that accesses data in the cloud presents some interesting integration challenges in the realm of managing business processes, rules, and API services. IBM introduced a collection of business integration software at Impact that is designed to help businesses accelerate adoption of mobile, cloud, and social business applications.
IBM WebSphere Application Server—A new recently announced version of WebSphere Application Server (WAS), V8.5, which is said to be some 16 percent faster than anything in its class, is the cornerstone of IBM's approach to allow businesses to adopt these new technologies. With built-in virtualization and enhanced flexibility for embedded deployments, it is a platform the company believes will usher in a new era of mobile social computing. Complementing WAS are three other applications IBM believes will help businesses support and manage these newer technologies. They include the following:
Interestingly, IBM is large enough to test out many of its leading-edge technologies on its own work force, and if the apps don't work, they get refined until they do. Some 200,000 IBM employees will have mobile access to its data by the end of this year, and that's a lot of mobile devices to secure and manage. The company's social collaboration solution, Connections, is legendary within the ranks of the company, and users recognize what it has done for productivity.
Business is competitive, and businesses will use whatever technology advantage they can to give them a leg up on the competition. Today, social networking, cloud technologies, and mobile computing are returning significant dividends in productivity from the investment that business is making. As mobile devices become increasingly powerful and mobile applications become ever more robust, ways in which mobile devices will affect business operations and services have yet to be imagined.
|Last Updated on Monday, 04 June 2012 00:00|