Mobile is officially hot this year. Seemingly every organization I talk to is developing some sort of mobile application to reach customers, partners, or employees. It seems that tablets have become a mainstream business tool. In fact, a survey found that most small and medium sized businesses plan to buy tens of thousands of dollars worth of tablets in 2012. This is an incredibly fast evolution, since even a year ago most CIOs wouldn’t allow tablets to even connect to their networks.
That bodes well for Apple, but it also opens up a whole new frontier for software providers. Here are some of the things organizations need:
- Mobile device management – lots of companies have already invested in these tools that allow them to manage the devices deployed to their employees. This is very similar to what was used to manage laptops and other hardware, along with the software that resides on them.
- Mobile application development – there is an ongoing debate here between native apps and HTML 5, but regardless of which side of the fence you choose, you need multi-platform development tools that take into account things like screen size and platform design (at a minimum). On the server side, development tools need to account for device profile and connection constraints, taking better advantage of techniques like caching and server-side data management.
- Mobile messaging – while most mobile applications rely on HTTP today, it has a lot of downsides (verbose, slow, processor/battery intensive, unreliable, pull-only). HTML 5 improves things slightly with Websockets, but in large scale deployments even the overhead of the initial HTTP handshake can be prohibitive. And reliability, connection management, security, and recovery all need to be built around the outside of it. Direct messaging technology for mobile apps is a wide open opportunity.
- Mobile security – with all these new apps connecting into organizations from all over the place, and often doing very sensitive things, security becomes a bigger problem than ever. Authenticating, authorizing, and maintaining secure channels, while also preventing DoS and spoofing, is another emerging requirement in mobile.
- Mobile business tools – think about all the opportunities for the vendors who offer business applications and productivity tools to extend those capabilities out to mobile devices.
So all of this adds up to an incredible opportunity for software companies, and an even greater opportunity for the organizations they sell to. In a lot of ways, this is the Web all over again. Organizations need a mobile presence to survive, and the new channel opens up opportunities for new entrants. I’m personally optimistic that this will drive a whole new economic wave, like the Web did before it. Fasten your seat belts.