Mobile magic: mobility solutions open up new horizons for enterprise IT
For enterprise IT, mobility will be a performance and productivity optimiser for people, processes and technology, says Johani Marais, channel manager Africa, Epicor Software Corporation.
Among the props most remembered by fans of the 1960s American space fantasy TV show 'Star Trek' was the iconic 'communicator', a wireless handheld device that allowed the protagonists to communicate with their orbiting spaceship over the airwaves. Although work on the development of wireless telephony had already begun as early as 1918 (1), mass use of cellular telephones was just science fiction half a century ago.
Today, users can easily download their favourite electronic games, video chat with loved ones, prepare office reports and even exchange information with just a tap to a fellow mobile device. Mobility has become such a ubiquitous part of everyday living that many people now have difficulty leaving the house without their precious cellphones or tablets, says Johani Marais, Channel Manager Africa, Epicor Software Corporation.
IT research firm Gartner predicts that mobile devices will become the most common Web access tools in 2013, surpassing the beloved PC to become the go-to connection to the Internet. (2)
The impact of mobility on businesses has been just as significant. Mobile solutions have opened up new vistas in cost savings, employee productivity, market reach and engagement, streamlined operations, responsiveness and service quality, among many others. Corporate trends such as bring your own device (BYOD) and mobile enterprise apps attest to strong industry-wide recognition and appreciation of the huge impact of mobility - a game-changing force which emerged as one of the biggest influencers on enterprise IT in 2012. Cisco's visual networking index forecast sets a probable 65% compound annual growth rate for business mobile traffic through 2016. (3)
Mobility will be the key catalyst for change for enterprises in 2013 as mobile experiences move more towards the 'cloud'. Among the many strategic developments to watch out for in enterprise mobility in the coming months and over the next few years are the consumerisation of IT, machine-to-machine solutions, mobile enterprise security, and mobile applications.
For businesses operating in regions such as the Middle East and Africa, where the role of IT in accelerating social and economic development is rapidly expanding, mobility is a focal point for performance and productivity strategies over the next few decades. There are many factors pushing mobility adoption, such as pertinent government initiatives and support, improved connectivity, growing mobile and smartphone penetration, and a nascent yet steadily growing tablet market.
Traffic from wireless and mobile devices will exceed traffic from wired devices by 2016. By 2017, wired devices will account for 45% of IP traffic, while WiFi and mobile devices will account for 55% of IP traffic (2). In 2012, wired devices accounted for the majority of IP traffic, at 59%. The surge in mobility adoption among businesses is not just about user convenience or a passing technology fad. Studies have shown that mobility does have a significant, positive impact on responsiveness and productivity. (4)
According to the Aberdeen Group, the need for instant access to ERP stems from the need to cut costs through efficiency and visibility. Instant access to ERP improves efficiency, especially in organisations with operations in multiple geographical locations or with employees out in the field. Instant access to data enables decision-makers to react to problems without delay and facilitates a quick response to the needs of its customers. (5)
Epicor, a leading developer of enterprise software solutions, has been responding to the rising demand for enterprise mobility through products designed to support the easy deployment and management of mobile devices and services to diverse users over multiple and dispersed locations. This is fuelled by the evolution toward customer needs and being business inspired. This means technology trends and the dynamic nature of business call for a robust industry-specific enterprise resource planning (ERP) offering that encompasses both the business needs of its customers and the latest technology to facilitate efficiency. Turnkey solutions from Epicor include software that securely, seamlessly and cost-effectively extends business data to mobile and remote users; world-class support from its global service network; and superior device management to provide IT staff with complete visibility and control of mobile devices and applications.
Among the business benefits provided by these solutions are the management and enhancement of business performance and productivity; the empowerment of people, processes and infrastructure to drive and sustain business growth; increased profit; enhanced integration; and improved compliance. Epicor notes that mobility is the way of the future as far as ERP is concerned.
From science fiction to science fact, from personal novelty to business tool, mobile communications has evolved by leaps and bounds to become one of the most impactful developments in modern times. For enterprise IT, mobility will continue to weave its magic as a performance and productivity optimiser for people, processes and technology.
(5) Aberdeen Group, Mobile ERP in the SME - Growth Through Efficiency and Visibility. May 2013