Mobility is Great, But Desktops Will be Around for a Long Time to Come
Insurance Experts' Forum, January 11, 2011
My friend Phil Wainewright just made an interesting observation in his latest ZDNet post, something that I've been suspecting in recent times: for many software developers, it's now “mobile first, desktop second”—meaning the new innovation will go into the mobile space, and desktops will adapt.
Phil points out, and I agree, that much of the work done in enterprises will still be done on desktops. Can you imagine a customer care center with representatives plugging away on cellphones for data? Can you imagine writing out and editing a business proposal on a smartphone?
The desktop platforms also now have an edge in one important area over the mobile world as well— enterprises have figured out how to deploy one application that can run on any desktop, via the Web and browser model, accentuated by Web services, service-oriented architecture and now cloud. The mobile world, on the other hand, now has an assortment of proprietary platforms—iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Windows Phone and more.
For insurance IT managers with tightly focused budgets, this creates a quandary—where to devote scare and expensive IT resources, such as tools, programming time and outside expertise? I discussed some of these issues in a recent article in INN, and in preparing the piece, spoke with Eli Winn, manager of the mobile and social team for enterprise Internet solutions at State Farm Insurance Co.
State Farm is leading the pack as far as mobile services, but resource constraints have become an issue, he points out.
“Everything we do on one platform we always want to do on another platform,” Winn says. “So, for example, if we create something on iPhone, assuming that the technical capabilities are there, we would also want to replicate that on Android and for mobile Web. But resources are always a concern just because of the pace that things change. And so we want to be purposeful about which ideas we choose, knowing we can't deliver everything.”
The ultimate solution, he says, is mobile Web, in which any and all applications can be accessed through a standard mobile browser in the same way desktop applications all employ browsers to access any platform out there.
“Everything State Farm has to offer, you can get it on the mobile Web. We do try to be specific to platform, for example iPhone and android, because we know people choose their phones for a reason. And we want to use the functionality of those platforms,” Winn says.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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