Enabling Enterprise Mobility with APIs

1. Introduction

API stands for application programming interface. An API can provide a hook for colleagues, partners, or
third-party developers to access data and services to build applications such as iPhone apps quickly.

The Twitter and Facebook APIs are famous examples. There are APIs that are open to any developer, APIs
that are open only to partners and APIs that are used internally to help run the business better and facilitate
collaboration between teams.

As businesses battle to keep up with the accelerated pace of their customers’ mobile-based lifestyles, they
are in danger of pushing out the applications without the ability to sustain innovation. The “behind-thescenes”
of building mobile applications may not be as glamorous as the Superstar app itself, but it is a critical
necessity to optimal performance, innovation and a Business’s competitive edge.

Disruptive technologies can be both powerful and dangerous to companies that employ them, and the
mobile is no exception. But Even if you think it is just a passing fad, the cost of early action is low, while the
price of delay may well be extremely high. Many industry leaders have begun to recognize that it can be in
the company’s best interest to support this trend instead of fighting it.

Mobile adoption seems to represent a very interesting trend in consumerization, where even corporatedriven
centralized deployments seems to be migrating to consumer-oriented technologies. In the same way
that consumerization trends brought support for mobile platforms into workplace, enterprises must also
recognize the demand and even outright expectations of employees to have apps for business purposes.

Based on the rapid evolution of the mobile technology landscape, enterprise developers have a very broad
spectrum of technology options when it comes to implementing mobile client front end interfaces. The
challenge, however, remains in the backend infrastructure. Aspects such as security, identity management,
storage, messaging, media exchange, and content management are among many some of the most
important backend capabilities that are required by most enterprise mobile applications.

Enabling these and many other backend features represent, by enlarge the most important challenge in the current spectrum of enterprise mobile applications.

When designing an enterprise mobility strategy, the emphasis should not be on the client development
technologies and tools and, instead, it should be focused on the back end services and management
experience to enable enterprise-ready mobile applications.

2. It’s all about the Apps

Apple was able to build the App Store on top of its already successful iTunes platform. The result was a
thriving ecosystem built around the impulse purchase.

In April 2009, Nationwide Insurance launched Nationwide Mobile in the iPhone App store. The app
provided Nationwide’s customers with an “Accident Toolkit”. In addition to calling emergency
services, the app could file an accident report that used GPS to pinpoint the user’s exact location and
captured pictures of the damage with the camera.

The app offered a huge value proposition to customers by replacing manual labor intensive processes with self-service functionality.
Mercedes-Benz salespeople can use the iPad to take credit applications and look up marketing
programs with prospective customer right next to the vehicle on the sales floor.

The mobile technologies are shaking things up, and organizations have an opportunity to take advantage of
the potential of the technology to improve mobile worker productivity and efficiency.

IT’s acceptance of consumerized technologies in the enterprise has led us to enable a more agile organization with users
empowered with choice in selecting their computing platform preference. The end result is that employees
are able to get the data and information they need to better inform decisions.

3. How do you identify Apps as part of your mobile strategy?

The enterprise mobile strategy revolves around specific business drivers, goals and objectives. As you
develop and evolve a mobile strategy for your organization, one of the most important aspects of your
strategy and plan will centre on applications.

Start by looking at how companies in your industry are using mobile technology, but then branch out and
look at how companies in other industries are using the technology. Then think through the different user
profiles and functional groups within your company to see if any ideas resonate from the perspectives of
users in those groups.

The following is a list of some of the popular and emerging applications for each of these specific industries.

Vertical MarketsPotential Applications
Consumer Goods- Many Consumer Goods companies are developing customer facing
applications to reinforce their brands, extend the customer experience,
find retail outlets, or even order products directly.
- Selling consumer goods to distributors through B2B channel.
Financial Services- iPad used for many types of information driven applications including
business intelligence, executive dashboards and reporting applications.
- Consumer banks provide account management, loan applications, bill
pay and fund transfer solutions.
- Brokerages can provide portfolio tracking as well as stock trading.
Hospitality- iPad can be used by employees to streamline check-in or check-out
processes, as well for various maintenance, housekeeping, and room
service activities.
- It can also be used by the host or hostess to look up reservations and
coordinate table assignments.
Insurance- Insurance companies with consumer products and brands can develop
customer-facing apps to provide for policy access, self-service requests,
and claims filling.
- If an insurance company uses independent agents or brokers, it can be
valuable to create applications that make it easier for the independent
agents to sell the company’s own line of license insurance policies.
Manufacturing- Workflow and inspection processes can be streamlined by eliminating
paper and digitally capturing data at the point of inspection.
- Alerts and dashboards can provide supervisors with access to real-time
performance metrics and let them see manufacturing issues as they are
Providers and
- The use of stand-alone applications like reference guides and calculators
is extremely widespread. Solutions like electronic medical records (EMR)
and e-prescribing are gaining traction, but are adopted more slowly
because they require integration and management by the provider or
- Applications to automate the capture of diagnosis and procedure codes
can streamline the billing process as well as help to catch coding errors
at the point of care instead of later during transcription and data entry.
- Electronic medical records can be accessed from the iPad, giving
practitioners real-time access to information like patient status,
radiology reports, and lab tests.
- Vital signs can be monitored remotely from the iPad for patients in
intensive care, and physicians can immediately see live patient data and
Utility- Workflow, data collection, inspection, equipment maintenance, and
service management are application applications that can provide a
significant return on investment.
- Apps gives management access to dashboards, reports, and alerts can
also provide a lot of business value.

The enterprise mobility strategy should encompass both internal-facing and external-facing user profiles and

For internal-facing applications, it’s important to understand the context and the user profile. The same
application can provide significantly more business benefit to one user profile than to other.

External facing applications are often driven by the marketing or branding department, and internal-facing
applications are often driven by IT, sales, or other specific operation group, there’s often no awareness of
what other groups are doing.

For instance, insurance companies may have different types of applications for three distinct user profiles:
sales tools for independent agents, policy self-service for existing customers, and interactive marketing apps
for prospective customers. Retailers may have external-facing applications that target customers, as well as
an app store distributing applications to suppliers and other business partners. The segmentation of
external-facing user groups independent from internal-facing user group is important, since some of these
applications are driven and controlled by marketing groups while others will be driven by IT or operations.

Enterprise Mobile Strategy


A Business and Technology executive with a proven track record of delivering innovative and successful business outcomes in challenging circumstances.

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