With the operators phasing out unlimited data plans, the cost of mobile network usage could rise. One way around that is to configure devices so that they first go to available Wi-Fi networks. Of course, if that includes public hotspots, you must ensure there's a VPN or other encryption mechanism in place since public access points don't use any Wi-Fi encryption mechanisms.
Wireless expense management systems, such as those offered by Asentinel, Rivermine, and Tangoe, let you import the carrier's billing information, plot trends, highlight exceptions, and determine the most effective plan for each user. At a minimum, in your pilot test attempt to get a baseline of the amount of data traffic the mobile application creates so you can budget for the expense.
7. Support For New Platforms
The deluge of new mobile devices won't abate anytime soon, so define how you'll test and certify your app on new devices. Two years ago, tablets weren't a blip on the horizon, and now they're everywhere. And don't think strictly in terms of new tablets and smartphones; imagine other purpose-built and specialized mobile appliances that will find their way into your network.
8. Your Mobility Policy
Once you've plotted the overall strategy, incorporate it into your mobility policy. Spell out the range of devices and operating system environments you'll support, the personal and business applications allowed, acceptable use, user responsibilities, and penalties for noncompliance, and all other management issues that govern mobility.
If you don't have a mobility policy, draft one. The Enterprise Mobility Forum, a think tank backed by several wireless vendors, provides an excellent template to help you to understand what to include.
IT departments face huge challenges in planning mobile app development and deployment. Don't just think about "the app" but consider the entire management, security, and support complex that surrounds it in order to deliver a full-featured user experience. The learning curve may be steep, and there will be bumps along the way, but thinking through the whole process will let you deliver the business impact and ROI that will put you in good stead both with users and fellow business leaders.
Michael Finneran is a consultant and industry analyst specializing in wireless technologies, mobile unified communications, and fixed-mobile convergence. Write to us at [email protected].