A Next Frontier In Mobile Is Behind The Corporate Firewall

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at 04:00 AM with 0 comments

While I say I cannot predict the future, sometimes things are so glaring to some and not others, by pointing out you are opening eyes for some people. One of them for me is “a” next frontier in the use of mobile technology – to get beyond the corporate firewall and use all of the tools and data like you can do on a full computer. Note I say “a” next frontier, as it is out there, I just don’t know if it’s the “next” or “last” frontier.

Why do I believe this? Over the years I have managed public Web sites, corporate Intranets, Extranets, portals and knowledge management systems. I have seen how these tools, when used effectively, make people productive. I have also seen how when not managed properly they become a huge mess and waste of resources. Typically, there is a mix of these within most organizations, everything from advanced applications, to a PC under someone’s desk hosting a group’s Intranet Web site, to email.

Going Beyond Email

Using your mobile device to work as you would at work is long overdue. Most corporate workers who have a mobile device use it for email. But beyond email, there may be a limited amount of apps or data available to them. Mobile devices have Web browsers, but you may not be able to make a VPN connection within your company’s firewall. Not having this prevents you from accessing what you can do on your work computer, from your desk or away from it.

More and more email is being used to get around this lack of access. Have you ever asked co-workers or your admin to send you files or information you can’t get at? I see this all the time as friends – even my wife – have to do this in order to get what they may need for a conference call they have to make from a remote location. There’s no other way, especially if getting online with your notebook computer is not an option, or you don’t want to lug it (and power cables, etc.) around.

Going Beyond Mindsets and Existing Network Infrastructure

Shortly before his inauguration, there was buzz about how US President Obama wanted to carry a BlackBerry. In the end, he got one. It is not completely known what kind of security is in use with his device, but the bottom-line is it was achievable. My guess is it’s not out of reach for most companies.

Part of the issue with going mobile with your company information is a mindset it is not secure. This is where you need to go beyond your current infrastructure. As tablets and smarter phones hit the market and become more and more commonplace, the demands from staff will require both of these looming issues to be addressed.

Do I Need An App For That?

Once you go beyond the firewall, the fun begins. Some content and applications may already look great on a mobile browser. Some package applications may already have mobile-friendly interfaces, or even apps to access data. I recently saw a development tool for interfacing with CICS screens on an iPad. (If you don’t know what CICS is, its how most applications were developed on mainframe computers that allowed users to enter and query data. As many CICS screens are still alive and kicking today, thus the opportunity for such a tool). Then there’s the content and applications where you’ll need to either build or buy (or both) to access them outside of the office.

Access content and data in multiple formats on multiple platforms is an opportunity to drive innovation in your corporate Intranet and sites. Everything from comprehensive search to centralizing content to reaping value “dead” or unpopular content can be gained from this effort. As you go forward, build into your requirements mobile platform compatibility, whether for your own internal development or for your third-party vendors. Just think about taking an online training course on your mobile device while sitting in the waiting room for jury duty, and you get the power and convenience of extending the workplace to mobile devices.

Keeping Up With Small Businesses

Many small businesses have some of this capability already. Google Apps works well on Android devices. Salesforce.com has apps for many devices. QuickBooks Online has mobile versions of its full Web-based application. All of these are hosted, third-party services, which does not require the infrastructure to go beyond the firewall. As some larger businesses use Salesforce already, they have an advantage with the ability for their users to work on a mobile device.

Big Picture Thinking On Little Devices

Looking back on what I have presented, I covered a lot, and at a high-level, big picture perspective. As anyone who has worked in computer systems knows, the devil is in the details. But keeping in mind a roadmap to where you want to be, from the short-term to as far out as you can realistically plan, literally getting the information into the hands of those who need it will be critical and advantageous for any business. Let alone the opportunity for those who will be involved in making this happen, whether they build mobile hardware, platforms, apps or supporting software.

Do you agree on this future frontier of mobile? Are you looking forward to it? Are you using it today? Please share your thoughts in the comments of this post.


Did you enjoy reading this? You are welcome to subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS feed or by email.

BusinessTechnologyMobile TechnologyStrategizeThriveWeb Development • (0) CommentsPermalink


Page 1 of 1 pages