Enterprise-level mobile applications bring revenue and intangible benefits which need to be factored in before dismissing the technology as an expensive luxury, according to Citrix vice president and chief evangelist Traver Gruen-Kennedy.
Founder and chairman of the Mobile Enterprise Alliance, Gruen-Kennedy said there are many immediate and intangible benefits to having applications accessible beyond the office walls.
“If your organisation is looking at its business processes and trying to streamline them, mobility can offer access to applications from many devices thus increasing flexibility,” Gruen-Kennedy said. “We are seeing enterprises with access to GPRS networks taking regular line-of-business applications to the field.”
He said an insurance company, Tryg-Baltica, in Denmanrk, achieved direct and intangible benefits from its success with mobile applications.
He said the company has about 300 people in the field who were using Siebel on notebooks to update customer records. The notebooks needed to be synchronised when the field staff returned to the office.
"Now they have GPRS cards in their notebooks and run Siebel centrally.”
According to Gruen-Kennedy, sales increased by 10 per cent and customer satisfaction also increased.
“In the past the ROI for mobile computing had to be immediate, because the devices had a short lifespan and it was difficult keeping applications up to date and tuned. Today users have a range of devices to choose from.
“Now companies in varied sectors such as transportation are looking at new ways to connect applications using mobile technology,” he said.
In terms of cultural changes that enterprises encounter when moving to mobile business platforms, Gruen-Kennedy said the mentality is shifting.
“More and more companies are realising that work is something you do and not somewhere you go and, as such, they are exploring ways to allow employees to work from home,” he said.
“The performance of mobile applications can be quite good, particularly when they are deployed using thin-client technology. Performance depends primarily on the network bandwidth, latency, and the speed of the servers; however, with thin-client technology only the pixel updates are sent over the network.”
Gruen-Kennedy said fat clients have the advantage of being able to run applications in the event of no network; however, a server-based model can result in increased security as files are not transferred outside the network.
When asked about the possibility of increased carrier costs organisations may incur as a result of more mobile platforms, Gruen-Kennedy said: “Wireless WAN’s usually charge by the megabyte so costs are ongoing. Carriers are looking for a sweet spot with data which was the same challenge faced when mobile phones entered the market.”