Welcome to my blog

Welcome and thank you for visiting my blog....

This is where I will pen my thoughts on Enterprise Mobility and other wireless technologies based on my learning’s/ experience over the course of my IT career.

The wireless world has been a very exciting place to be over the last few years. We have seen the introduction of ground breaking products and technologies have reached a never-before-seen level of maturity. The rate of enterprise adaptation to wireless technology is only accelerating day by day.

This is a personal blog and will focus on my thoughts and perspectives on wireless technology. Please feel free to share your opinions and viewpoints so that it can be discussed and debated. Though I would like to, I won't be able to post to this blog each day. Will try my best to write whenever I get time.

I hope that you will return often to this blog. Thanks again.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Enterprise Mobile Web or Mobile Application? – Which way to go?

by Purushottam Darshankar

Enterprise mobility is now moving from the early adopter stage to become a mainstream focus for enterprises and their IT departments. Enterprises are beginning to understand how they can use mobile technologies to improve business process and optimize their mobile worker performance.

Factually, lots of enterprises are in dilemma in terms of choosing a right option – a mobile website or a downloadable application that run on the handsets. The best answer is, it depends on what the enterprise wants to accomplish.

Web applications traditionally have been valued for its ease of distribution; faster release cycle, decreased barrier to entry etc. Coming to mobile, web development has long suffered from a rigid platform and the inability for mobile browser to keep up with current web technologies. With many handset manufacturer attempting to clone the iPhones usability and appeal, the mobile web applications are getting better, the browser more robust and the devices more capable in terms of supporting Javascript and other web technologies such AJAX, flash etc.

The mobile web allows you to develop on a single platform and target the broadest set of handsets. On the flip side, the mobile web application cannot access the advanced features of the phones such as contact list, location information, camera, bluetooth etc. The interfaces on mobile websites are quite poor and clunky resulting in less than desirable user experience due to browser fragmentation and varied form factors. For better usability, vendors such as Volantis (Multi-channel Server), Mobileaware (Mobile Interaction server) etc. have come up with middleware that manages rendering of web pages to different devices based on device capabilities.

If enterprise has an existing high traffic web destination, developing a mobile version makes sense as site already has a brand attached to it and loyal followers.

Today’s mobile handsets are more than just a phone and improved native capabilities of phone can be better utilized with smart client mobile applications. The mobile application provides ability to better control user interactions and user interface via possible inputs such as touch, voice, keyboard etc. The smaller footprint of database allows user to store reasonable amount of data directly on handset giving offline functionality to user. The offline functionality, the important differentiator, could become a major decision factor for enterprises in deciding which way to go.

Mobile device fragmentation at platform, device, firmware and operator level may lead to further confusion for enterprises to choose best suit for their business needs. Additionally, the porting efforts to other platforms and testing applications on physical handset add to overall cost of developing rich mobile application when compared to web site development.

If enterprise has need of extensive data management and interactive user experience on device and also requires access to device functionalities such as location, contact list etc., developing mobile application makes sense.

In conclusion, if enterprise is targeting the mobility to reach out to their customers- a wider audience, mobile web may be better choice compared to native application development, as they do not have a direct control over the mobile devices, personal devices being used by them. If enterprises are thinking of improving the business process or optimizing the mobile workers performance, mobile application would be better choice as enterprise are in better position to manage and control the devices. And, if enterprise believe in mobility as a strong medium for marketing, business process improvement and operational efficiencies, consider investing in both mobile application and mobile friendly web site to utilize the best of these two technologies.