Bill Laberis, Editorial Editor for Enterprise CIO Forum, recently posted a video called “Cloud-enable your mobile strategy.” I believe these two technology trends, mobile and cloud, will fundamentally change computing over the next ten years. The future of computing is a distributed environment where corporate data and enterprise software services will reside in both the cloud and on the corporation’s premises. Enterprise data and services will also be accessed over a wide range of devices, including mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. The advent of cloud computing, powerful mobile devices and near ubiquitous mobile connectivity means the entire infrastructure for the storage, processing, and consumption of data and applications will change.

In his video, Laberis posed a question that is key to understanding how to build future systems when he asked, “Are we designing for device and location independence?” This is what a mobile enterprise should be designing for. Work is no longer a place. Work is a state of activity that is increasingly device and location independent.

In 2013, most businesses are defining which applications and business processes should be mobile-enabled. Many legacy applications and systems of record, such as supply chain, human resources, and financial applications, will need to be extended to mobile devices. Businesses have three choices for mobile-enabling these applications. First, the company can see if its vendor provides a mobile version of the application. Second, IT can build mobile applications that link back to portions of the data within the legacy applications. In this case, the CIO or CTO must decide if the app should be an application that is designed to run on a specific mobile operating system or if it will be designed to operate using HTML-5 web technology. Third, the CIO should evaluate Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions in areas such as human resources, expense management, payroll and customer relationship management. These cloud services can provide device and location independent services today for companies of all sizes. While SaaS isn’t applicable for highly customized applications such as ERP, many businesses have found SaaS solutions are a reasonable alternative for more standardized applications such as human resources (SaaS examples include Workday and Oracle’s Taleo) and expense reporting (SaaS examples include Concur and Expensify).

Cloud computing can also be used to help develop and test mobile applications within the enterprise as well as between the enterprise and its partners. Start-ups through large enterprises are using scalable cloud resources to simulate production environments and test high volume usage. In some cases, our research shows cloud-based architectures can shrink the time to deploy a test environment by up to 90%. Thus, a cloud-enabled mobile strategy could include having at least a portion of the corporation’s data stored and processed in the cloud, cloud resident mobile application test and development environments, and SaaS applications. When mobile and cloud are combined, there are endless opportunities to improve and transform business processes.

How will your business integrate cloud computing and mobile? I’d love to hear your thoughts before I attend Cloud Connect in April.

 

Maribel Lopez is the CEO and mobile market strategist for Lopez Research, a market research and strategy consulting firm that specializes in communications technologies with a heavy emphasis on the disruptive nature of mobile technologies. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.