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Over the last six months I’ve had the pleasure of talking to many professionals leading mobile initiatives – from global telecommunications companies concerned with the impact mobile computing is having on their infrastructures to small companies looking to leverage the hundreds of thousands of mobile applications available from the many public and private app stores. From the largest to the smallest, there are very common themes in the challenges being faced.
Historically, new technology has followed fairly well understood paths from development through early adoption and finally into broad markets. Also, generally speaking, emerging technologies have flowed down from either government or very large corporations’ research and development efforts and then, over the course of years, spiraled down in cost and broadened in availability. Mobility is the exception to these rules, with consumer devices and the consumer’s experience acquiring and installing content, applications and complex collections of capabilities driving remarkably fast-paced change in the workplace.
There are a couple of clear watershed moments that have contributed to the blistering pace of mobility’s blitz into the enterprise: The release of the Apple iPhone in the summer of 2007, the general release of Google’s Android in 2008, and the general acceptance of cloud computing as a commodity, led by Amazon making the EC2 cloud available to the general public in 2006. In less than four years mobile devices have overtaken personal computers as the most common computing platform in the world. Combined, the prevalence of highly capable mobile devices and the ease with which end users are able to find, choose and install applications that exactly meet their needs of the moment have fundamentally changed the way we look at computers, data and networks.
As in every other industry, the adoption of mobile computing and growing prevalence of mobile applications geared toward the health professional are proceeding at an unprecedented pace, catching many enterprises off guard and leaving them struggling to catch up. It is critically important for enterprises to remember that a tablet computer or smartphone is really just an extension of the enterprise, although one with unique limitations and requirements because of platform differences. Physical limitations such as display size require changes to applications to make them fully usable on a portable device; power and heat constraints limit the amount of computing power available on the mobile platform; and the security of data at rest and in motion is critical because of the extreme portability of the devices and greater likelihood of them being a target of opportunity for theft.
In addition to practical and security considerations it is important to understand that network connectivity is essential to the mobile computing paradigm. If there is no connection, there is no mobility. Thus, the performance and reliability of network connection to an enterprise’s mobile devices must be a principal consideration when planning and deploying the architecture to support enterprise mobility. The implementation of solid network optimization, security and policy as part of a mobile deployment will help ensure the most positive experience for the end users and greatest return on investment for the enterprise.
From a broad perspective, the challenges of adopting mobility into the enterprise are well worth the gains in productivity, capability and user experience. In healthcare more than most others, mobility represents an opportunity to significantly change the way services are delivered to the end customer. Doctors and other health professionals can bring closer, more attentive care and have access to vastly greater stores of data and contextual information.
In the end, whether we are ready or not for them, enterprise users are going to be bringing these devices to the forefront. The time is now to get as far ahead of the curve as possible.
Rob Shaughnessy is the chief technical officer at Circadence
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