Mobile business apps are no longer a luxury, but a necessity at every level of the organization. Advances in Wi-Fi and other wireless technologies can put much of the corporate network in a worker's pocket. Handheld devices are now commonly used to access corporate e-mail and sales reports, and track supply chain inventory in real time.
Looking ahead, Technisource predicts companies will establish their own internal "apps stores" that give employees password-protected access to software tools and other corporate resources.
IT departments should also prepare to use mobility asset management software to remotely configure and upgrade mobile apps and secure lost or stolen mobile devices by remotely wiping them clean of sensitive data. Finally, network and security admins must prepare for the inevitable: corporate users requesting to use their personal iPhones, Droids and other consumer-friendly smartphones for work purposes.
Ascending to the Cloud, One Careful Step at a Time
Companies are slowly but surely moving to some sort of cloud computing model. According to Gartner Group research, 8% of U.S. corporations had implemented a cloud service at the end of 2010, and Gartner expects that number to jump to over 50% by the end of 2012.
A cloud model offers obvious benefits: cheaper pay-as-you-go delivery methods, less operational complexity and fewer, if any, servers to manage.
But a cloud migration is complex, particularly at the enterprise level where data security is paramount.
"You'll need to develop heightened level of data security for the cloud computing environment, where some, or all, of your critical data resides outside the traditional corporate firewall," the Technisource report states, adding that cloud-based apps are also not as flexible, providing users with only a simplified menu of configuration and control options.
"Expect some snags when integrating several applications from different vendors into the seamless cloud platform of your dreams," the report states.
As for return on investment guidance: Technisource writes that initial cloud ROI gain is in the first two years due to a decrease in infrastructure costs, but fee structures should be reviewed in the third year to make sure you're getting the best deal.
The Windows 7 Upgrade Catch-Up
For most businesses, the Great Recession put a hold on any non-essential technology upgrades. But the standard four-year refresh cycles are timing out and hardware and software are getting long in the tooth, to the point where user productivity is sapped and security is at risk.