Benefits build for business in consumer-style mobile apps

Australian business should look for innovative twists and apply business smarts to consumer-focused mobile applications, according to Finnish mobiles company, Nokia.

Speaking to Computerworld at the company's StyleMyMobileWorld summit in Melbourne, Joe Barrett, head of market relations for Nokia Networks, said the longer technology adoption cycle (compared to consumers) limits companies' ability to make the most of cutting-edge mobile applications. They should use this time-lapse to their advantage, he said.

He said companies should look at applications popular with consumers and aim at developing business-type applications around these services.

Barrett said SMS-type applications, for example, have potentially a high value to businesses at a low cost.

Emerging MMS (mulitmedia message service) applications will also prove of value to companies, he said.

"However, there are things to consider when relying on mobile-delivered services for business uses", such as security, which can be resolved by using security on the phone and VPNs and firewalls behind the scenes. The issue of the timeliness of delivery of SMS-like messages must also be considered.

He said companies could increase the popularity of, and achieve high productivity with mobile applications in-house by adopting some of the 'emotional' tactics that work for the consumer sector.

"Companies also need to get emotional buy-in on mobile-delivered applications so that the [implementation] process is not a burden to IT managers."

Barrett said while many IT managers may view the move to mobiles as a burden - just another thing to look after - two approaches may lessen the millstone. Looking to a systems integrator was a good way of achieving the full business advantages of mobile services, he said.

"[They can advise on] ROI, how to make the services happen. This usually takes a couple of months."

He also advocates applying consumer-type services to businesses. For this to succeed, he said, the service needs to be "niche" to get buy-in from users.

"A lot of carriers are currently working on business applications. There are services which are not that complicated that could be delivered via mobiles."

* Kelly Mills travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Nokia.

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