I am meeting a client today who would like to replace the laptops issued to some 13,000 distributed workers with iPhones. Can it work? Should more corporations consider this a viable option?
Enhanced Customer Experience
If this does happen, then it would also raise the interesting question of how the mobile computing environment would enhance our Customer Experience.
John Hagel pointed out in a recent post, “when designing for the future, we should not assume that the Internet will be on our desks—but integrated to our daily lives, fluid, mobile, and social.”
Already we are seeing iPhone applications such as Credit Card Terminal applications, which turn your iPhone into a mobile virtual terminal for charging customers’ credit cards. This simple application untethers your employees from the cash register to allow more and direct interaction in the aisles (or even better, take your aisles to your customers).
Over time, this freedom from a tethered device or an unwieldy laptop will provide an opportunity for competitive advantage to those who explore these new possibilities.
The Role of Web Services
The power behind the business applications may surprise you. It isn’t on the iPhone at all. The iPhone simply provides a conduit into your back office or web supported business applications.
The robustness and effectiveness of your iPhone application is highly dependent on the flexibility and richness provided by your infrastructure which allows for the access and sharing of information. Built correctly, one can offer ubiquitous access to services and the capability to share data with business partners, customers, and information systems with unparalleled efficiencies.
It is not for everyone (yet)
Even though there are approximately 1,600 business apps available in the App Store, Apple is still in the early stages of adoption. Large corporations and software giants are opening their capability and becoming more critical to business. Oracle iPhone apps, for instance, let users tap into Oracle’s business suite, as does Salesforce Mobile. In late March, Cisco Systems delivered WebEx Mobile that enables your iPhone to participate in WebEx meetings live.
The question for most corporations is really directed toward their internal IT departments. How will you build, support and manage these applications? It will require new approaches to problem solving and a different staff mix than is traditionally seen. This will be the biggest obstacle for adoption.
What are your thoughts on the iPhone? Do you think it’s a suitable replacement for a laptop or desktop, or will we be waiting a few years longer before this is realistic?
Check out Acquity Groups iPhone optimized website: www.acquitygroup.com