Every day there are more and more very capable mobile devices on the market. Larger touch screens enable these mobile devices to be used for an ever-increasing number of complex tasks. So, the next time you or your employees are in the field, all your important business information will be only a touch away. And, if your business is already SOA enabled, this will be quite simple to accomplish. But there are a few steps that need to be followed first:
- Decide which business processes must be available on mobile devices
- Redefine needed business processes in such way that most tasks can be done in off-line mode
- Decide which functionalities should be available on mobile devices
- Design a GUI for mobile devices
To prepare business processes to work in a mobile environment, close cooperation between SOA experts/consultants and mobile device experts is needed. This is necessary in order to overcome all the limitations of both systems and to accomplish a successful integration. It is desirable that only needed functionalities be available on mobile devices and that the number of interactions to the main SOA system and the amount of data transferred be limited to a minimum. On the other hand, business process analysts should be very careful not to limit functionality too much; otherwise defined business processes would become useless.
The main objectives for mobile devices experts will be such tasks as deciding which mobile platforms should be supported, helping you redefine business processes, designing the GUI, etc. They should take into consideration the size of the mobile device display, the limited functionalities, as compared to computers, and, of course, the limitations associated with data transfer. In some remote locations, network signals could be very low, so data transfer would be very slow or impossible. Even when a network signal is strong, the data transfer speed on mobile devices can not be compared to that of a local area network. And this is the main reason why mobile applications should be designed for work in the off-line mode; only when data are needed to be transferred should the necessary connection to the SOA environment be established .
For the GUI ,two main approaches can be considered:
- Web Interface
- Custom application
For Web Interface, only appropriate web pages should be created. This is the simpler approach and less complex web pages are compatible with most browsers on mobile devices. So, while this method would work on a wide number of different mobile devices, functionality would be limited, rendering it acceptable for only very simple tasks.
For complex tasks, implementing the custom application in order to exploit the rich functionality of the Android platform and the very popular IPhone and IPad devices is recommended. This will bring to mobile devices the full functionality of your SOA environment with a very rich GUI. Using this approach, your employees will be far more efficient in the field.
With this relatively simple change in your SOA environment, and with custom applications for mobile devices, your employees would get real-time access to vital business information, even while they are in the field. In today’s highly competitive business environment, such an advantage can mean the difference between success and failure.