In Singapore, as of April 2013, total mobile subscriptions was at an astounding 8.1 million, of which 6.6 million were smartphone users. The mobile population penetration rate was at 152.7 percent, and has been increasing steadily over the years[i]. With such a high percentage of smartphone users in cities such as Singapore, it is apparent that mobile is one of the revolutionary forces changing how IT is requested and delivered in today's commercial world. The advent of the savvy end-user and the rising trend of "bring your own device" (BYOD) have immeasurably changed the way in which services must be provided by IT. As smartphone capabilities develop, so does the level of expectations for added functionality.
Businesses, from local Singapore SMEs to regional and multinational enterprises, will find it impossible to ignore mobile if they wish to remain competitive. This is true in particular for both developed and emerging economies in Asia Pacific where consumers are readily adopting mobile technology. According to the MasterCard Mobile Payments Readiness Index[ii], Singapore ranks as the world's most mobile payment-ready nation, due to its efficient regulatory systems, mobile phone infrastructure, as well as financial services. Consequently, businesses must consider the most effective way to develop and adapt business applications to the needs of the mobile user.
The take-up of mobile technology will have "dramatic effect" on back-office IT systems, according to a study from Forrester Research. Modern users expect 24x7 mobile access to all the applications and online services that they would use on their desktop or laptop computer, visiting e-commerce sites, accessing their bank online, and more recently, loading their work applications. Yet, according to Forrester, "hidden costs and disruptions" are set to plague organisations that do not make appropriate pre-emptive action.
The Forrester Report suggests that mobile projects hide a variety of potential pitfalls as a result of infrastructure that is ill-prepared for exploding activity volumes. However, organisations need not think that embracing mobile will require a costly and complete overhaul of existing IT infrastructure to resolve these issues.
Businesses should consider re-using as much of their existing business applications and processes as possible in order to guarantee integrity, continuity and security of service for the future. Potential threats to the infrastructure of exploding activity volumes can be mitigated by making smart choices about application provision and workload management, to relieve pressure and offer a more cost- effective and viable solution to adopt mobile.
There are several steps that businesses can take to ensure their IT infrastructures are prepared for the mobile explosion:
1. Re-use and adapt applications
All too often businesses approach mobile by developing new applications when in fact they could simply re-use and adapt existing, core back-end applications. The benefit of this approach is that costs are reduced and the existing infrastructure is not compromised.
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