It’s become apparent that we are at a crossroad — if not in technology, in expectations. The crossroad presents uncertainty, and it boils down to this question: Which mobile operating system will win?
From an application-integration perspective, the winning OS will determine how IT needs to build applications and what tools they can (or should) use. Looking at the market, IT can only guess what the future will bring. The chatter we are hearing on the direction of the Mobile OS is varied and inconclusive.
Many IT shops are asking: Is it iOS and Apple devices? Is it the media-labeled, market-leading Android? If so, which flavor (version) is important and what does that mean for our direction on device support? Or should we leverage the upcoming offerings from Microsoft based on Windows 8? If that is the case, should we focus on Pro or RT?
It appears that RIM is the only player not given much discussion.
Current statistics favor Apple. According to a quote in Infoworld, Good Technology pegs 97.3% of business tablet activations as iPads, while the iPhone represents 73.9% of non-business activations. On the other hand, Android has the most consumer users (something to consider with the advent of BYOD). Furthermore, Microsoft has a planned solution for mobile and the ‘legacy’ desktop (albeit, no current market share). All this market ‘noise’ complicates IT strategies for building and maintaining applications meant to live for numbers of years.
With so many uncertainties, how can IT be expected to roll out solutions that will last? One approach that is becoming more and more acceptable: ‘Leave it in the cloud.’ In other words, build your applications, or even expose your existing applications, in a way that they can be served to devices. The momentum of this trend means that we can expect to see an increasing use of web technologies (e.g., HTML5) as the front end for enterprise applications. With this approach, the outcome of the current mobility battles will have one less impact on IT.
The bottom-line question you should ask: Do I really need the application to run on the device? Or is it really just a matter of allowing users access to the application?