Parallel Lines: Careful systems building


Stuart Griffin, business development manager at reseller MMCC, discusses the finer detail of communications systems integration and future-planning

Going mobile is an obvious choice when considering improving the efficiency of how road-based employees interact with their IT systems.

As with any new system selection, it is important to consider suitability, scalability and the longer-term business direction to maximise return on investment. However, relatively little has been reported about aspects often overlooked.

Many directors initially ask us to transfer their entire desktop functionality to their mobile.

After a little more discussion it often becomes apparent their business would enjoy greater benefits from a more streamlined approach.

If you naively transfer software functionality from fixed technology to a mobile equivalent, you often miss out on a host of benefits.

Although new systems might appear impressive, they will underperform. If there are 60 sales functions on a desktop sales application, say, and I ask the customer if they required them all on
their new mobile system, the answer is likely to be ‘yes’.

In reality, people use a small proportion. And installing all functionality onto the mobile runs the risk of longer loading periods and reduced usability.

We recommend an alternative approach. We segment the customer’s existing infrastructure rather than trying to tackle it as one huge application. It is divided into modular business processes and then we design and integrate the user interface around the real needs of the customer.

This establishes whether a retro-fitting plan is required, or a freshly built system which is tailored to needs and behaviours.

Ultimately we align mobile infrastructure with the demands of business and the agility it needs to ensure best return.

The technology market moves at lightening speed. Any new implementation needs to be future proofed, a challenge that boils down to scalability and how mobile software is designed and written. The key to converting from desktop to mobile is knowing how far you need to go in replacing existing infrastructure.

Replacing IT infrastructure with mobile does not mean downsizing. New applications have opened the doors to new ways of managing clients and delivering services. This can reveal new opportunities in clients’ service portfolios and sales processes.

The handheld application market is following an exponential growth curve as organisations adopt technology to reduce costs and increase productivity.

The hardware used in business environments is as important as the software. For example, an iPhone is not robust enough to withstand the strains of industrial sites. Dropping a fully loaded iPhone is like taking a hammer to a computer.

There are stronger handsets available, but choosing appropriate hardware is to be considered on an employee-by-employee basis.

The future of business with mobile technology is exciting.

The technological leaps we witness each year suggest that the imaginations of creative developers are the only limits.

Although this is fascinating, it holds very real threats. Business decision makers need to ensure their next tranche of investment is future proofed or they will dramatically increase the cost of
remaining competitive over the next five years.