The mobile Internet has arrived for business. Do you have a strategic plan to take advantage of it? Or does your mobile business app strategy begin and end with a policy for what level of manager gets a BlackBerry and whether the iPhone's allowed?Coca-Cola Enterprises illustrates the difference, as part of InformationWeek's cover story package this week on how companies are bringing business applications to smartphones. The world's largest Coke distributor is giving 400 merchandisers BlackBerrys to use for time keeping, collaboration, and other tasks as they go from store-to-store doing jobs such as setting up displays. The company expects the test will lead to 11,000 merchandisers using smartphones for mobile computing.
Even more significant is that Coca-Cola Enterprises went from an ad hoc approach to mobilizing applications to a strategy it intends to use each time it moves software to smartphones:
Gone are the days when it developed a mobile app on a case-by-case basis, choosing a suitable device depending on the particular job. Now the company thinks in terms of "strategic enterprise mobility," says Kevin Flowers, the company's director of enabling technologies. That means building the merchandiser app, or any app, to be device-independent.
The iPhone and App Store get credit for changing people's thinking about smartphones-from mobile messaging to mobile computing. Dow Jones predicts this week's CTIA Wireless trade show will focus on consumer software for mobile devices, unlike in the past when it focused on new hardware.
In businesses, we're seeing the same growing focus on software, with companies pushing more enterprise applications to smartphones. Half of companies are deploying or planning mobile application launches right now, our InformationWeek Analytics research finds. And that's not just mobile e-mail. Of those, a quarter have CRM in widespread use, and more than 40% have it in limited deployment.
CIOs must lead the strategic discussion to make sure this momentum behind mobile enterprise apps carries companies in the right direction. Our cover story this week points out the many trade-offs CIOs face today to get their enterprise apps onto smartphones. That won't keep employees from getting louder and louder in their demands for more tools on their company smartphones.