Mobile Enterprise Applications Integration as a Key Success Factor

By providing convenient mobile access to its business applications 24/7, a company can generate growth and demand for its products and services. Therefore, the integration of the mobile application into the company's IT environment is a key success factor.

With respect to sales and multi-channel marketing strategies, mobile opens new opportunities for companies to further develop and extend their offering. For this reason, the new distribution channel «mobile» should be integrated smoothly into the existing services and data. However, engineering a mobile applicaton requires being on top in different areas, such as service-oriented architecture for the mobile integration, appropriate infrastructure or security guidelines.

Integration based on service-oriented architecture

When engineering a mobile enterprise application, a service-oriented architecture (SOA) offers a number of advantages with respect to continuity, further development and long-term cost of ownership. A SOA facilitates integration with IT services and business data, providing major benefits.

One major challenge for a mobile solution's continuity is the constantly changing technological environment, similar to the half life period of business and marketing strategies. A SOA allows to keep costs low while developing the mobile application further and, therefore, represents a suitable solution even in case of a limited depth of integration.

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Service-oriented architecture

A SOA consists of different software modules, one of them being the mobile integration component (see figure) that ensures interoperability with the technologies and business processes of the company's IT. This integration component decouples mobile user device and IT, allowing to support any end-user device, their development and any new models.

Another advantage of the service-oriented architecture: Thanks to the mobile integration component, extensions and adaptations of the mobile enterprise application are independent from the IT business processes and databases. Adding a new service or functionality is easy and impacts only the mobile integration component.

For their communication with the mobile integration component, the mobile end-user devices use the data exchange format JSON – JavaScript Notation Object. JSON is available for most mobile device platforms (iOS, Windows Phone, Android and BlackBerry). Communication with the company's business applications is based on protocols such as SOAP.

 

Due to frequently changing network bandwidths and data transfer interruptions, it is necessary to store certain data in the mobile device's cache. Doing so allows to optimize response times and to also provide offline functionality. The mobile integration component controls the data exchange, generating itself temporary data in order to reduce the number of requests by mobile end-user devices. In addition, it controls the data flow to/from the business applications and the underlying databases of the company. Last but not least, these network and data optimizations extend the battery life of mobile user devices.

A suitable and secure infrastructure

Similar to business applications, a mobile solution must go through every phase of the application lifecycle while being engineered and requires a suitable infrastructure. It is necessary to establish specific connections between the mobile user devices and the company's development, integration and production infrastructure, as they are usually not yet connected to the network.

As for IT in general, the rules and best practices for IT security and data protection must be applied to the development of mobile enterprise solutions 1:1. However, mobile devices require additional security measures. It is key to find the right balance between the limits imposed by security and data protection and user experience.

While an app downloaded from the store may be the most visible element, it is only a small part of the mobile enterprise solution. The solution's value also depends on its smooth integration into the company's IT landscape. Thus, mobile enterprise applications need to be considered serious IT projects.