Hands up if you have a drawer full of old mobile phones that you will probably never use again? That’s a lot of hands. Sure, we all need a spare, but if you are likely to swap your touch-screen smartphone for your Nokia 6310 then keep your hands up … thought so.
My point is that the increasing consumer adoption of all things mobile, namely phones, devices, apps and services – even our exploration of the Internet of Things – represents an irreversible trend.
The mobile arena is the battleground for today’s digital business. Gartner predicts that by 2017, mobile consumers will download or access mobile apps and services more than 268 billion times. That’s – potentially – a cool $77bn in mobile revenues. The key word is potentially. Any modern business wishing to ride that wave must offer their customers the opportunity to experience their business services digitally or surrender that business to the competitors that can.
That is fine in principle. But any businesses must exercise cost control and maintain a ‘balance’ of new innovations and the BAU, ‘lights-on’ work. Essentially, anything leveraging modern tech must deliver a fast return to the business to pay its way – and that means giving the customer what they want sooner than other players in this marketplace.
Typically, organizations with large customer bases that need to deliver applications and data via consumer friendly services – think banks, insurance companies, airlines – are likely to have substantial investments in COBOL. Clearly, these systems were not built with mobile or the cloud in mind and the original developers will not have built in the requisite flex to create digital experiences through mobile applications. Yet the imperative to deliver them remains, so success depends on access to customer data and the ability to leverage core IP and business logic within these COBOL systems.
As has been noted – replacing time-proven COBOL code for an unknown commodity makes little business sense, particularly as COBOL has the inherent capabilities to deliver what the business – and crucially, the customer – needs.
Portability: the foundation of COBOL’s legacy
For more than 50 years COBOL has embraced continuous innovation. Remember when ATMs were a novelty? Think about how technology has driven the advancement of logistics, banking, equity trading systems – all thanks to COBOL. Ask the Treasury of the Republic of Cyprus about how they have streamlined efficiency and achieved real savings with the language of the future.
Right now, COBOL is connecting more than 500,000,000 mobile customers. So the potential is there. The challenge for the developer is in bridging the gap between the existing technology and the modern capabilities required to take COBOL companies into the future.
The solution to that challenge could be easier than you think. As our ‘fast path to COBOL’ journey explains, re-use is the new ‘start from scratch’. Take your data and applications – your core business logic and competitive advantage – and create something new and exciting from it. Modern tools, such as the Visual Studio and Eclipse are the launchpad for delivering new mobile services faster and the workspace for folding modern languages such as Java, Objective C and C# into current COBOL systems.
Micro Focus – taking COBOL mobile
COBOL has been our core business for nearly 40 years and bridging the gap between older and new technologies remains our primary mission. If you’re ready to derive more business value from your business applications, take a look at our COBOL to Mobile solutions.
Back to our original point; those old Nokia mobile phones in your drawer might be old, but they still work. The technology has simply evolved and with our help, so can yours.
But don’t bother swapping your laptop for a ZX Spectrum. With only 16KB of RAM to play with, your chances of reading this blog are pretty slim.