Computer giant Hewlett-Packard has unveiled its latest project last week: the Enterprise Mobility Platform, a service billed to make your company’s life more productive by leveraging mobile apps. HP hopes to give businesses a boost in innovation by providing the ability to create, distribute, and manage custom mobile applications. While the announcement of this service indicates that business technology is moving more toward mobile apps, it also nods at the increased incorporation of mobile devices--such as tablets and smart phones--into our daily business routines.
So here’s how Enterprise Mobility Platform will work: according to their website, the service is split into two sections. First an Enterprise Mobile App Store (think iTunes for your company’s custom apps) will “enable CSPs [communication service providers] to help enterprises create, certify, distribute and manage ‘mobilized’ versions of company apps for employees.” Employers will be able to create and share apps using a service provider, while having control over how the app is accessed and by whom. Employees will have the ability to browse and access company apps through the platform, allowing for a more fluid, productive workforce and controlled app building and deployment. The mobile app store will also provide support for app life cycle management for evolving applications and an integrated mobile device testing-center that will ensure that your app functions well at all times on any device.
Second, the aptly named Enterprise Mobility Gateway, will give employees access to the applications. The Gateway leverages cloud computing to act as the security barrier for your information. Additionally, it will compartmentalize data “from multiple back-end systems to create aggregated, high-value information for mobile users” to allow easy information retrieval. Continuing the focus on constant app evolution, this gateway will provide usage statistics and reports so that you get the most efficiency out of your app.
This lends itself to a broader discussion of the “application”. What was once a massive development undertaking is now a product that can be dreamt up and build overnight. Want to make your sales reports a bit easier? You could create an app that automatically tracks sales and inputs the data into a report for you. Having trouble keeping track of your shipments? There could be an app for that. You could also increase ease of access to your customers with an app available to the public. In reality, the possibilities are almost limitless since you can create an app to do whatever you like, allowing employees and your company to become more efficient in every aspect.
Tablets, smart phones, and other mobile devices have been growing in importance for business professionals over the last decade. These gadgets can be a way of communicating quicker, make working on projects outside of the office simpler, and allow collaborating with others wherever they may be easier. However, most of the devices being used are not company property, but personal, and many employees are beginning to bring their mobile devices into the office. The growing trend of a BYOD policy---or, Bring Your Own Device---has created the opportunity and need to create customized mobile applications to increase productivity.
Naturally, when an outside device is allowed access to sensitive company information security must be a priority, and with mobile device use on the rise it is important to safeguard information from malicious software. Security of mobile devices has been at the discretion of both the user and the company. Some companies choose to keep outside devices outside of the office, some allow only approved devices. Those that have an open/unregulated policy have largely been at the mercy of other apps on the device that may contain a virus or other maleficent software. Words with Friends may be fun and easy to balance with work, but that free knock-off could try to infect your database or hack your email. Personal app stores can provide a level of security for the creation and distribution of company apps, and is proving to be the next big thing for businesses.
Many companies today have begun using custom apps, but lack a simple, safe way of distributing it to their employees’ devices. In fact, Symantec’s 2012 State of Mobility Survey shows that in a sample size of nearly 6,300 technology managers across 43 countries, a whopping 71% are looking into implementing an app “store” for employees. HP’s embrace of both BOYD policies and customized apps in business signifies that mobile applications have a growing influence in not only worker productivity, but enterprise technology as a whole.