TECH TALK: The Coming Age of ASPs: Technology Building Blocks (Part 4)
7. Mobility Integration
PCs and Thin Clients are not going to be the only access devices. In emerging markets, mobile phones are starting to become complementary devices to the desktop computers. For many, they are the PC of the East. Yet, mobile phones have not been integrated into business processes. While devices like Research In Motions Blackberry have popularised push email and calendar synchronisation, much more needs to be done to architect mobile phones into the SMEs in Emerging Markets (SMEEMs) workflow.
At issue here is the fact that mobility is not a set of technologies in search of a “killer app.” Instead, Cingular posits that there are business processes that need to be mobilized. We can put the consulting-speak aside and investigate these basic categories:
* Workflow Enhancers
* Knowledge Enhancers
* Transaction Enhancers
* Reporting Enhancers
Essentially, the mobile phone must become an equal partner to the desktop computer as Application Service Providers (ASPs) focus on SMEEMs. Users in these enterprises will already have mobile phones. The mobile phone can be used for alerts and notifications, and also making queries to databases via SMS. On higher-end phones equipped with GPRS and CDMA connectivity, much more can be done. For example, field support engineers can fill out forms on the phone itself and data can be sent to the central servers via the wireless network.
8. Information Dashboards and RSS
The automation created with IT will also create a flood of information. What SMEs in Emerging Markets (SMEEMs) will need are information dashboards on their computers and mobile phones to let them focus on the flow of information, products and money. This will be enabled by RSS. Employees and top management can set up subscriptions to the information and event streams that are of interest to them, along with appropriate filters to ensure that exceptional events are reported immediately. Information dashboards thus become the interface to the real-time enterprise that ASPs and the concomitant IT infrastructure will enable.
A related idea which can help in the process of creating information dashboards is datablogging. Here is how John Robb describes it: Data is usually locked up in monolithic applications (CRM, ERP, etc.). Application seats are expensive. Training is expensive. Etc. People that need the data often can’t get to it. What if human readable data flows (via RSS) could be generated by these applications? It would allow the development of easy to read weblogs (that republished these RSS flows) that almost everyone in the company would find valuable. The combinations are almost limitless and the flow is completely automated. The flip side is also extremely valuable. Using a weblog model of data entry, it would become much easier to train people to enter data in a timely fashion. Further, they get immediate feedback on their efforts since the data they post is transformed into an entry on the blog.
Tomorrow: The Buyers View
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