Better Mobile Tech, Tools for BYOB
By Marie Lingblom
A Forrester survey reveals workers are spending an annual average of $1,253 of their own money on computers and technology to do their jobs. Not that we need a survey to see what’s happening, but the personal investment figures do drive home the point.
From top-level executives to support staff, employees everywhere are buying their own devices because they aren’t getting what they need at the office. Forrester Analyst David K. Johnson attributes the trend to, among other things, the fact that Windows XP is 11 years old yet it’s still in use on more than 50 percent of corporate desktops and laptops. In addition, most tools and practices being used for endpoint management and security were developed in the early 2000s.
Forrester’s recent survey polled more than 5,000 technology end users across the United States and Europe. Just 12 percent encourage employees to bring their own devices. The remaining 88 percent actively discourage it, with some reporting policies that even penalize employees who do. Forrester says while the mismatch between employee needs and IT’s position is obvious, few organizations are adequately prepared to recast their policies.
But policies need to quickly round the corner of already over-discussed decisions related to what’s allowed in terms of acceptable devices, software and access to the enterprise. David Mitchell Smith, a Gartner research vice president and Fellow, says enterprises have to accept a “fast-moving, diverse era of ecosystems that span consumer electronics, business computing, fixed location clients, and mobile clients.”
In a separate report released by Gartner this week, Smith says IT leaders and application development teams should adopt a multichannel approach to applications across business-to-business (B2B), business-to-employee (B2E) and business-to-consumer (B2C) channels. For instance:
• Performing a mobile-only, mobile-first or legacy assessment during application development.
• Identifying specific demand for mobile applications in B2E, B2C and B2B sectors during the next 18 months.
• Implementing an architectural and tool framework for future context-aware apps.
The leading edge of change, says Smith, is the touch-and-gesture interface fundamental to mobile devices. Both audio and video channels are being used to expand new user interfaces. “Spoken commands drive searches and application actions, while the emerging video channel is leading to facial recognition and in-air gestures,” said Smith.
Gartner offers the following suggestions:
• Tracking advances in new UI techniques (such as touch, audio, video, gestures, search, social and context) and creating a road map for short-term, medium-term and long-term potential.
• Factoring in ensemble interactions where applications integrate the experience across multiple devices into application architectures.
• Building applications with simple, focused capabilities and interactions, but also creating links across applications for coordinated operation.
Gartner predicts mobile advertising projects targeting smart phones and tablets will outnumber native PC projects by 4 to 1 by 2015. That means reallocating resources. New tools, for instance, are necessary when building user interfaces for multiple screen sizes and different operating systems. There is no automatic way to accomplish this, says Smith. It takes engineering.
Making tactical investments in mobile application development tools, for instance, or enhancing testing and support plans. Gartner also recommends using HTML5 as the lowest common denominator cross-device and cross-vendor user interface model, but HTML will not address all needs.