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Taking the Enterprise Mobile: Developer Roundtable : Page 2

Though it is certainly exciting and fast moving technology, mobility has still managed to schlep sloppily into the enterprise. It's here, arguably, but its transformative powers are elusive. Find out what four developers say about the recent past and the immediate potential for a truly mobilized enterprise in this fast-paced roundtable discussion with DevX editors.




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DevX: So what is the state of development in the mobility space at the moment?

SENICK: I think we're at the cusp of a tremendous growth curve in regards to the extension of the enterprise out to the mobile or extended work force. Moving forward, it's the continuous productivity improvements from enhanced technologies that enable all this. All these applications and improved networks—lower pricing, more competition from a network provider—is the evolution that I personally see and I think we see at Mobility Electronics. This is the growth curve and it is really exciting.

With the converged devices that are coming out from a smart phone perspective, PDA perspective, it really empowers the user to take advantage of not only voice, but data applications that reside within the enterprise.

JOKINEN: From Medixine's point of view, the problem has been how to extend disease management to large groups of patients. The cost has been too high before. But now we have mobile phones that are powerful enough. We can program patient terminals inside mobile phones. So the cost to the patient for entering this type of program is for the first time really low enough to make it clearly profitable.

A bigger healthcare provider has, say, 50,000 to 100,000 patients. So just handling installations and support has been expensive. But now we have systems to distribute Java software to mobile phones over the air. We take care of software updates in the same way. So all the technology pieces are in place, and now we can provide real world solutions in this area.

GUR: Like with any other new technology, the first things done are basically an extension of things that are already done on other media on other technologies. Now, the second stage is things that really utilize capabilities of the new technology. One medical research system that we built here for an American customer actually reminds the users two times during the day and at random times to measure the level of some parameter and enter it into the system. You could not have done that with any other technology because even if you had a PC to enter the information into later on, even if you had pen and paper to take the readings and so forth, we've never had a device that can decide for you when to take the readings and remind you. This is a new capability of the new technology.

What we're trying to do with World Mate nowadays is really to solve all your information problems while you're traveling without encumbering you. For instance, the device knows your itinerary, so we can find out automatically that your flight is delayed and that you might be missing a connection, and then we can propose a solution automatically. This is possible because the technology now brings the computing capability to wherever you need it. That's something that was never available before.

I think in the long term we will see the mobile devices replacing anything else that people use to carry information, whether it's your wallet, whether it's some other booklet, or any other kind of contraption or item that you use to carry information with you. All of that will be made redundant by the mobile devices.

DevX: Do you get questions from enterprise customers indicating that they're curious about how to extend the enterprise? Have you seen any signs from inside the enterprise that they're trying to improve mobility?

BACHMANN: Absolutely. In many cases they're either extending an existing application or they've got a very strong process in place for doing something, but it's today a combination of back office computing, and in the mobile environment it's a paper-based process. So out in the field it has yet actually even to be turned into a computing solution.

So they are curious about what's possible in the field, and we can see before our eyes that they are learning what can be done, what's available, and how to adapt their existing processes to an actual mobile computing device vs. paper.

We see over and over again that's actually one of their biggest challenges. Most of these large corporations are very process-driven, and they're trying to figure out how to adapt their processes so everything can move very smoothly. They're not necessarily inventing a whole lot of new groundbreaking applications in-house. It's more of an adaptation-type process.

DevX: But they're still in Stage 1. You extend what you know out into the new environment.

SENICK: Absolutely. They're not waking up the next day saying, 'We have a dream where all of our sales folks will be doing these new things: X, Y, and Z.' Those sales folks are already doing those things, but this is a way to make it much more efficient.

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