Media Briefing on Broadband & Mobility

September 14, 2008

How TCO Hinders Greater Mobile App Adoption

Filed under: Deployment strategies — Craig Settles @ 11:26 pm

My recent Mobile Strategy Snapshot Report tackles the issue of TCO – total cost of ownership – and how organizations can minimize it to increase the ROI they get from mobile applications. Besides impacting ROI, several factors contributing to TCO also are limiting adoption of mobile and wireless technology among commercial and other types of organizations.

After five books and various reports on mobile and wireless business strategies, the dozens of people I talked to site in-depth end-user needs analysis as the key to implementing an application that’s used effectively. When you build crappy initial wireless infrastructure or mobile applications, the resulting problems and end user backlash make it difficult to implement new and/or improved applications.

You see this with muni wireless networks, in-house mobile apps, mobile devices that are inappropriate for the tasks at hand and so forth. Government and commercial organizations that didn’t do it right the first time now don’t want anything to do with the technology because they think it’s a failure when in fact, the failure lies with their planning processes.

The lack of device and software standards is also holding back adoption. Whether it’s mobile devices’ operating systems, mobile extensions to desktop applications or even mobile app management software, TCO goes up when departments within the same organization can’t standardize on the technology. Awareness of this reality puts the brakes on projects.

Another thing driving up TCO as well as stopping widespread mobile tech adoption are the islands of technology that already exist with mainframe, WAN or LAN applications, or the islands created due to the lack of standards I mentioned. When faced with an array of bewildering, entrenched technologies that demand an overhaul before you can seriously consider organization-wide mobility, some execs and IT staffs just throw up their hands and vow to wait for the magic solution that unties this Gordian knot.

I’m not sure there is one universal solution to this problem, but a good starting place is to focus on the data. In general, it’s data – field service reports, building maps, customer sales history, patient stats, etc – that organizations want people in the field to capture or to access from the home network. Then they want to move that data among and between departments, software applications and others outside the organization.

If organizations get their act together to do thorough needs analysis, focus time and brainpower on how to structure stored data and data capture systems in a format that enables the most types of hardware and software to capture or access this data. This by no means guarantees a complete solution to the problem of islands or lack of standards, but it could go a long way to get organizations off the dime and deploying more mobile apps.

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