Integration woes hinder mobile deployments

With mobility-enhancing projects creeping onto the IT agenda success of these implementation centres on a re-evaluation of the company's IT architecture, according to one mobile solutions vendor.

Director of business development for iTouch, Dave Ffowcs Williams warns the "biggest thing" that can go wrong during a mobile deployment is the integration.

Williams said conducting a business process study right at the start of the project is vital to the success of the deployment of any mobile enabling software.

When IT staff implement these solutions, Williams said, they often discover that all the systems they want and need to access and link together are working independently, and some sort of XML coding is required to link the applications together before the mobile solution can be implemented.

While the sales team or CEO often initiates mobile implementations, as they are perceived as 'sexy', Williams said ownership of a mobile project by the IT team is vital to retain control and power over the project. "IT also needs to speak with people who will actually be using the equipment to ensure the requirements are delivered. It is surprising how often this is not done."

Another issue that can lead to failure of a mobile project is hardware related. "IT needs to look at the stability of the wireless network and also speak with the carrier over performance issues," Williams said. "IT needs to put cotton wool around the wireless networks."

"The [mobile] application also needs to be on the handheld; thin client doesn't work. If the thin client fails once, the user will discard the tool and go back to pen and paper."

Williams said WAP portals don't work either. "Users need to be able to store up to a year's information on the handheld and be able to send information back to the office via a mobile phone or sync with their PC."

According to Williams, the IT department also needs to consider, during the planning stages of the project, how the handheld assets will be tracked and updated.

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