David Akka, Magic Software , UK MD (www.magicsoftware.com)

There is little doubt that the future is mobile. The ability to connect with suppliers and clients from wherever you are based, and to have access to the same applications and data from mobile devices, that you can access in the office, has become paramount. The way that we conduct business has changed, fundamentally, and true mobility is now about carrying out real business processes without having to go to the laptop or through the VPN.

This is backed up by a recent report by Forrester which predicts that mobility will become even more of a priority for enterprises and vendors for 2011, surpassing even that of cloud computing.*

Anecdotally we know this to be true; customers across the board and from a range of different sectors are looking for the ability to take their core and legacy applications to a mobile device. A case in point was my own experience in which I was called upon to sign off on an important document whilst on holiday and was able to access our ERP system from my mobile, approve the purchase order, and avoid any disruption to our business.

The mobility challenge now stretches way beyond use of communication tools such as Outlook. We know that, increasingly, users are becoming frustrated with CRM or ERP applications, and need them to be ‘mobile-ready’ with access to customer, invoicing, planning, stock or sales data in real time. The question then is, how do organisations make this happen, cost effectively, and what are the issues that they need to overcome?

The reality is that, despite our ‘always-on’ world, most business applications are not yet mobile ready and inherently carry with them a number of challenges; from business processes which require access to multiple systems, to supporting different mobile devices which can carry with it high costs. The challenge is also about protecting your existing investments, avoiding the ‘rip and replace’ scenario and extending the logic and data of applications into mobile devices.

It may sound straightforward but mobilising individual applications, separately, can be a costly process. The traditional approach would require an individual solution - per application, making the whole process prohibitively expensive for many organisations. The landscape is however shifting; there are solutions available which now enable businesses to mobilise core and legacy applications with one tool, in a way that is fast, productive and efficient. This means that enterprises can easily create a rich, mobile front-end application with fewer resources, whilst integrating ERP data with other data, without re-working the existing business logic.

As the mobile revolution continues, the ability to check stock data, raise an invoice, or place an order from any device will be decisive in making enterprises more productive, more efficient and more responsive to customers. In the near future, this could be the competitive advantage that makes all the difference.

*Another Year of Outperformance for the Tech Industry Forrester's 2011 Tech Industry Predictions."