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In this age of mobile social media and dueling iPhone, Android,iPad,and BlackBerry media campaigns, few among us disagree that phones are for more than just talking. Consider this: More than 250 million active users access Facebook through mobile devices across 200 mobile operators in 60 countries.


The power of wireless to catalyze groups and individuals to act, eliminate barriers to communication, and change behavior is unprecedented. Many social, cultural, and geopolitical trends are increasing its ability to bridge physical and social spaces every day.  BMC Mobility_2.png

Globalization and Wireless Adoption

Consider how the following social and cultural trends are changing the way mobile technology influences and permeates our lives:

According to U.S. government statistics, the global population isgrowing daily by about 200,000 people, or roughly the size of Boise, Idaho.That is leading to the inevitable suburbanization of population centers, which leads to longer commutes and the virtualization of the traditional office. Spending less time in the office and more time commuting means increased dependence on mobile technology. In fact, laptops outsold PCs all the way backin 2005, and today more than 90 of the top 100 US-based companies allow employees to telecommute. These trends will compound on themselves in the years ahead as reliable, cost-effective mobile infrastructure reduces traditional barriers to geographic expansion for companies. Reading Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat: “New wirelesstechnologies … are the übersteroids that make us, and all the new forms ofcollaboration, mobile, so that now we can manipulate, share, and shape ourdigital content from anywhere, with anyone.”

 

Impact of Social and Cultural Trends

Servers have been virtual for some time. Now employees and their  work tools are as well. What does this mean for the future of IT? It is incumbent on corporate support organizations to realign themselves with the changing needs of the business. There was a time when IT existed to maintain continuity and did so by insisting on uniformity. In an era of public infrastructure (such as Wi-Fi and WiMAX; home and remote workers; and new mobile computing devices), uniformity is out and IT must evolve to be as agile as the teams it supports.


This poses a new challenge for developers of information technology systems and processes. Computing devices are no longer stationary and predictable. They are sporadically connected to networks, have tinyscreens, and most importantly, are always on and always physically close to users. That means the task of designing applications is more complicated than ever. But there are also new exciting opportunities to make them more effective because the time and space between the point where information resides and where it is consumed is being reduced to nothing.


Enlightened system owners are embracing these opportunities today.To truly optimize applications, they should first be designed for use on mobile devices. Whatever handhelds can’t support should then be made available on PCs.This turns conventional software wisdom on its ear, but it is a shift alldevelopers must make to be relevant in the decades to come.


This pattern isn’t new. During the Renaissance, scribes were forced by Gutenberg’s printing press to reinvent themselves. In the Industrial Revolution, Watt’s steam engine forced farmers to do the same. More recently, shifts to open-source software and Software as a Service (SaaS) have reshaped traditional ideas about how applications are developed and the traditional role of the software developer.

Mobile Devices: The New Primary Computing Endpoint

With all ofthese tectonic shifts happening, and with all indications pointing toward increasing dependence on mobile communication, it is reasonable to expect that any software application, Web-based or otherwise, will soon be available on all handheld devices. However, while the consumer market has just about reached this point, enterprise mobility is still evolving. What will it take to changet hat? To begin answering those questions, it’s important to acknowledge that intuition turns out to be correct here. Two things are holding back wide spreadadoption:

 

1.       Not all applications designed for PCs will fit on tiny handheld screens.

2.       Even if they did, many of them are too cumbersome to use.

 

In fact,nearly every business application that has been mobilized to date, with the exception of productivity tools, has been summarily relegated to the technology waste heap for just those reasons.

 

Given how PC-based applications were developed, it would be unreasonable to have expected anything different. Like the adage about “everything looks like a nail when all you have is a hammer,” PC developers naturally built PC design principals and user behavior in mind. That is obviously the wrong approach, and it failed.  It’s analogous to the development of early telephones in the first decade ofthe twentieth century. They had no keypads and only one speaker because they were designed by newspaper publishers to allow users to hear news stories. It was pioneers, such as Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, who developed the predecessors to the phones we use today.

 

The right approach follows this basic fundamental principal: good mobile applications are better than their PC counterparts because they are context-sensitive,aware of who is using them, and organized so the most essential features are the most accessible – that is, they focus on what is gained rather than what is lost.

 

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