Last week Apple released the iPhone 5 to a lot of fanfare. We felt this would be a good time to write about the state of mobile devices (including Smart Phones, tablet computers, etc.) in business software. If you are interested in using mobile technology – you are not alone. Almost all of our clients request that system access through mobile devices be included as part of their requirements. What was formerly a really cool consumer toy, is now maturing to an indispensable business tool.
But this technology is more in the adolescent stage rather than full maturity at this point. The business software vendors are working hard at developing mobile capabilities in their systems, but right now these new features are at different levels – depending on the software vendor. There is a big difference between having a solution that is “mobile capable” and development of specific “mobile technology.” Mobile capable simply means that you can access the system through a web browser portal – whether that be on your desktop or on a mobile device. On the other hand, software vendors that have developed Mobile Technology, have specific apps that are built into the system for more of a true mobile technology interface. As time passes, more and more vendors will move from “mobile capable” to “mobile technology” and within a year or two you will probably not find a viable software vendor that does not have mobile apps developed specifically for their solution.
As you go through the software evaluation process, you should make sure that the software supports the mobile device you are using. We have found that some vendors support only one or two platforms. We also recommend that you include mobile technology in your scripted software demonstration. This will allow you to get an idea for the look and feel for how the software runs on these devices and will give you a vision for how you can best utilize these tools.
There is no doubt that mobile devices will be an integral part of the future of business software. But because business software is still embracing this technology, make sure you carefully review both the current mobile technology capabilities as well as the vision for the vendor’s long-term mobile strategy in your software evaluation process.