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Mobile Today. More Mobile Tomorrow.

There is more to mobile than what you can hold in your hand.

By Bob Rhubart

September/October 2014

“Mobile will be more disruptive than the web and the PC.” So said a tweet from Forrester Research this past spring. Given the head-spinning rise in the popularity and use of smartphones and tablets in recent years, betting against that prediction is probably not the smartest thing you could do with your money.

The mobile juggernaut, that great un–tethering that has freed people from their desktops and laptops, shows no signs of subsiding. A report from industry research and advisory firm Gartner confirms the obvious: sales of smartphones and tablets skyrocketed between 2012 and 2013 and remain robust in 2014. And in April the LA Times reported that 2014 sales of wearable devices, including smart watches and web-enabled glasses, will triple sales of similar devices in 2013.

If your organization has not yet come up with a mobile strategy, you might want to reprioritize your to-do list. But the key word here is strategy.

Developing a mobile application is not just about developing a user interface. ”–Luc Bors,
Oracle ACE

“Mobility is always changing,” says Chris Muir, senior principal mobility and development tools product manager at Oracle. “You may solve the set of problems you have today, but because the market moves so quickly, in a week, a month, a year, you’ll have a whole range of things coming on board that need to be addressed.”

The requirement for long-term thinking should come as no surprise to architects, for whom dealing with constant change is part of the job. But any mobile strategy that effectively anticipates the depth and breadth of change must start with an understanding of what mobility really means.

According to Steven Davelaar, a consulting solutions architect with the ADF/Oracle WebCenter A-Team, an effective mobile strategy must take into account more than the devices themselves and the applications developed for them; it must also focus on creating a mobile-friendly back end. “You will have to tailor some of the data loads, for instance,” says Davelaar. “You have to think about different strategies—data synchronization and much more.”

“A mobile application is not a solution by itself—it’s part of your enterprise solution,” agrees Oracle ACE Luc Bors, principal consultant at AMIS Services. “Developing a mobile application is not just about developing a user interface. User interface development is only 25 to 50 percent of the whole mobile application. The rest of the work is definitely in back-end services that provide data, and also in security.”

But while a mobile-friendly back end is essential, the mobile application itself looms large. If you thought you could simply squeeze your company website or critical web application onto a smartphone screen and call it a day, guess again. Today’s mobile devices offer a variety of capabilities that define the modern mobile experience. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking these features.

“Not many enterprises seem to be leveraging mobility at any level beyond communication and limited access to parts of enterprise applications,” says Oracle ACE Director Lucas Jellema, CTO at AMIS Services. That strategy leaves a lot of money on the table in the form of location-based services, personalized cross-device behavior, offline operations, and gamification that consumers regularly use on their mobile devices. Make sure your mobile strategy looks for ways to leverage those capabilities in order to meet enterprise objectives.

And bear in mind that the transformation to enterprise mobility has benefits beyond mobile. For example, Oracle’s Davelaar recommends converting from more-complex and less performant SOAP-based web services to more-lightweight and mobile-friendly REST/JSON web services. This change will help to streamline and simplify the back end in order to better accommodate any kind of user interface, not just those associated with mobile applications. That’s good strategy, and good business. The bottom line is straightforward: Your company has no choice but to adopt a mobile strategy. And your role in defining that strategy will help to determine your own mobility—as it relates to the direction you travel on the org chart.

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