Tuesday, April 11, 2006

InformationWeek writes that there is more to letting "employees access applications anytime, anywhere" than just "shrinking a PC-based application or Web interface to fit a small screen." The article notes that "giving employees access to customer records, inventory management apps, and videoconferencing from PDAs and cell phones is far more complicated than a wireless broadband boost."

The article looks at the many challenges enterprises face trying to get mobile versions of their business apps. One issue is formatting for display on a mobile device and making it easy to use without a standard keyboard. The article points out that "while PCs are similar enough to make one-size-fits-all desktop software, mobile devices come in all shapes and sizes. So software that works effortlessly on a Pocket PC with a touch screen could be unusable on a cell phone with a numeric keypad."

Ellen Daley at Forrester Research commented that "business software vendors including PeopleSoft, Salesforce.com, and Siebel Systems offer mobile versions of their applications, but they typically don't include all the functionality of the desktop versions. Getting what you want from mobile apps may mean considering vendors, which specialize in connecting companies' software to mobile devices."

While employees want enhanced mobility, "often the functionality of these applications doesn't match mobile workers' dreams." The article concludes that "off-the-shelf is often just the foundation. It's up to the IT staff to do the patchwork and integration for the various front-end and back-end applications involved in a deployment. It's usually a big effort to make an application small."