This is part 1 in a series of post based on a talk I gave recently at the Chicago Information Technology Architects Group.  Feel free to leave feedback.


Most of us already carry smartphones. We play games on them. We keep up with what is going on with our friends and our favorite teams. We take pictures of our kids at their events. But the question is if that is all they are good for.

Many companies have aspects of their business that lend themselves to being performed by mobile devices. Some of them lean toward larger device such as tablets, but many can be executed on smartphones.

This and the following articles will discuss some of the possible applications of smartphone technology for businesses, the platforms that are available and the considerations you need to make when building them. I'll take a look at some specific scenarios and wrap up with a couple of capabilities that are just emerging that can be used in the future.

Why Build Enterprise Smartphone Applications

So what are some of the ways that you can leverage smartphone technology to gain efficiency in your business or a clients business. There are a few major areas that I have seen mobile platforms being an advantage to.

Your mobile sales force is a key candidate for leveraging smartphone apps.  They can visit clients in their retail location and place orders on site. It is a more personal approach which can gain you customer loyalty.  A sales person may also gather information about the way a client does business or who their target market is. This allows them you to focus marketing information or build customized support for your customer.

You may also have need to track physical inventory in a store. This is something that has historically been done with laser scanners, but with the camera capabilities in today's phones and tablets it is possible to use more general multi-purpose devices.  This can save costs on both hardware and telecommunication contracts.

Delivery verification is another area that historically has been the domain of specialized devices but can now be accomplished with smartphones.  This also reduces costs because it is also used for communicating with the driver and other operations.  Add to that the navigation capability of smartphones and you can see how the return on investment increases.

Executives are always on the go. They spend most of their time in meetings and yet they need access to decision making information at their finger tips. With a smartphone app they can get alerts when major sales are closed or critical accounting process are completed that may need their attention. They can also answer questions by instantly pulling up BI reports.

I have often heard operations support people say that they need things like VPN and RDP from their phones. If they can also have notifications of outages or critical support requests they can be react to situations without needing to be tied to their desks.

These are all valid reasons to need smartphone applications.  In the next installment I will discuss platforms and features.