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Establishing a Mobile Center of Excellence (CoE)
A prescriptive approach and consideration

I. Statement of Purpose

The intent of this document is to capture the discussion and provide a prescriptive approach and consideration towards establishing a Mobile CoE. This document is also to serve as a Body of Knowledge (BoK) that includes agreed upon objectives, tasks and various other business and technology related topics in context of Mobile design. This document is just a draft on guidelines. The final charter of any CoE is task and responsibility of the core members of CoE.

II. Intent of a CoE:

Center of Excellence (CoE) is essentially a team of people that promote collaboration and using best practices around a specific focus area to drive business results. The CoE is a team of like-minded people from various organizational backgrounds with skill and organizational execution authority to focus on mobile related projects, in following ways:

  1. Support: For their area of focus, CoE's should offer support to the business lines and IT. This may be through consensus building and providing subject matter expertise.
  2. Guidance: establishing Standards, methodologies, tools and knowledge repositories as a guideline to the support element.
  3. Shared Learning: Through expertise, and organizational knowledge, team building and formalized roles are all ways to encourage shared learning and execution.
  4. Measurements: CoEs should be able to demonstrate they are delivering the valued results to the business. The value can be in terms of providing support, expertise and therefore risk mitigation to Mobile related projects.

5. Governance: Allocating limited resources (money, people, etc.) across all their possible use is an important function of CoEs. COE should ensure organizations invest in the most valuable projects and create economies of scale for their service offering - Governance through support.

III. Understanding Mobile Platform Imperatives

Why is Mobile Important?

  • Over last year alone 3000% of WW mobile traffic ballooned. - Includes Voice and data
  • This space is expected to grow 40X over next 5 years
  • 11% of the world owns a tablet ( now we have 89% of 6+ billion and growing)
  • 90% of the world has access to the mobile networks ( well this amazed me as 90% of world does not have access to clean water and food, but has access to mobile network)
  • 2/3 of us get most of our news on mobile devices
  • 76% take pictures and video on mobile devices
  • in past 2 years mobile ready sites have grown from 150,000 to 3 million
  • 11 billion apps in 2010
  • On commerce front - this year $6.2 billion purchase were made from Mobil device --- compare that to $54.2 billion black Friday sales
  • If mobile users would be nation, it would be largest nation..... And I could go on...

What are the Business drivers and technical considerations?

§ New business models and paradigms

§ Social network! Obviously?

- Everyone wants to be on Facebook/LinkedIn etc

- Every solution is compared to scalability and availability like social networks

- Capitalize on ‘perceived' new markets on social network.

§ Emerging Channels of commerce

- New breed of personal devices

- Speed of commerce

- Low tolerance for ‘slow' experience

- New lines of currency - Zynga, SMS for money transfer?

§ Proliferation of ‘smart' phones (AND Data!)

- Do everything but make phone calls (?)

- Exponential growth of these phones ( 35% of US population as an example)

- 128 million iPhones (about that many other phones)

- Emerging markets ( India, China, Brazil, Russia etc)

§ Globalization!!

- Single market for everything

- Everything is linked

§ Brand/Image Exposure - How U interact with my business.

IV. Mobile Design Points and middleware landscape

Enterprise Design Points:

  • Deliberate and Intentional engagement
  • Exposing back end services and data
  • Data transfer and data growth considerations
  • Bandwidth and TCP Socket chatter
  • MEAP or MCAP?
  • Enterprise Integration
  • Security - enterprise and endpoint security
  • Device and Platform support
  • Legal responsibilities - Application store, client data and resulting exposure

Technical Design Points:

§ 1.Enterprise application integration (tools and libraries

§ 2.Device integration and peripheral support

§ 3. Application client runtime

§ 4. Device/OS platform support

§ 5. Packaged mobile

§ 6. Hosting

§ 7. Architectural flexibility

(Source: Gartner Research Note G00211688)

V. What are these landscape changes driving?

Elasticity

  • Rapid provisioning
  • Configuration Automation
  • Virtualization - HW (e.g. VMware/PowerVM) and Middleware (e.g. WVE)

Scalability

  • eXtreme Caching - improving speed and scalability
  • Data/cache partitioning and co-location

 

Data awareness and real time processing

  • Sense and response or even driven architectures (Fraud/Marketing/BI)
  • Reduced processing - or off-loading to an efficient tier
  • Moving data closest to application (relevant logic)

VI. Deconstructing the Mobile Platform

Most MEAP technology providers claim the following capabilities:

  • SMS apps
  • App Store - Client side application
  • Middleware Server - Server side application
  • Multi-device/Multi-Platform application support
  • Sync Server
  • Mobile Device Management (MDM)
  • Data Mapping
  • Push notification service
  • Application Management
  • Application Versioning
  • Code generation
  • Application template
  • Industry Specific Application

Some Notable Features from some of the mobile platform include (But not limited to)

  • Each app built runs on all major mobile operating systems and device types
  • Real-time integration with CRM, BI, data warehouse, CMS, and other enterprise systems
  • Built-in reporting and analytics capabilities
  • Local data storage, secured for offline access to documents and information
  • GPS, camera, mapping, rotation, and other native device features
  • Code-free IDE enables rapid development and deployment of native and HTML5 hybrid apps
  • Changes and updates managed in real time with no code generation or redeployment
  • Enterprise-grade on-device and in-flight security protections

VII. MEAP Vendor/Platform Considerations:

  1. Coding Skills requirement: Are native coding skills required to complete projects or make changes? Some MEAP vendors surprisingly do not complete the process of creating the mobile app for the target device. Manual programming and tweaking is required.
  2. Native integration: Will we need to use the native debugger to test our applications? If the MEAP forces you to debug their deployment capabilities on a target device, then you that mean you are likely to be required to write code to fix any problems you find.
  3. Multiplatform Support: Can my MEAP platform also create desktop, client server and web applications? Some MEAPs are mobile only and have little or no capabilities for supporting other types of applications. This lack of support means duplicate coding for those environments.
  4. Control on Single Platform: Does the MEAP platform allow me to control the look and feel of the application so that I can develop with a native look and feel for each device? Will BlackBerry apps look like other BlackBerry apps? Will an iPhone app look and feel like an iPhone app? Etc.
  5. Track record- back End Integration: Does the MEAP platform vendor have a solid track record of back-end integration? Do they have a complete set of integration tools to allow you to integrate enterprise IT systems, data and processes with your MEAP platform? Integration to backend systems is a crucial component of providing B2E, B2B, and B2C applications. Without a straightforward solution for integration, you may end up spending months of unnecessary development time trying to integrate your mobile apps to existing enterprise systems.
  6. Multi-Lingual Support: Is the solution multilingual and can the vendor providing multilingual support? If you need a global solution, some vendors have limited reach in North America but not beyond.
  7. Vendor Vision and Stability: How long have you been in business? Too many vendors are in startup mode with no guarantee that they will stick around.
  8. Vendor Financial Stability: Will you provide financial statements showing your revenues, profitability, and cash on hand and debt position? If a vendor is unwilling to provide financial statements, then you are at significant risk that you may be dealing with a vendor that is on the brink of imminent financial failure.
  9. Vendor Corporate Commitment: Does the MEAP vendor have a parent company whose objectives are different from those of the independent software vendor that it acquired? If the parent company acquired the MEAP platform to serve the needs of its larger client base, will that be at cross-purposes to your needs?
  10. Enterprise Strategy and Integration: Does the MEAP vendor have a coherent strategy for enterprise systems, mobile apps and the cloud? Can the vendor ensure that all of these solutions can be based on the same service-oriented architecture (SOA)? Is the platform capable of compositing existing application logic from Java, .NET, SAP etc? And other environments? A good MEAP platform will be capable of leveraging all that you have today and have a coherent strategy for deploying solutions in all of the environments that you need to be in tomorrow. A vendor that can future-proof your efforts will ultimately be the smart choice for development of mobile apps.

Center of Excellence (CoE) is essentially a team of people that promote collaboration and using best practices around a specific focus area to drive business results. The CoE is a team of like-minded people from various organizational backgrounds with skill and organizational execution authority to focus on mobile related projects

About Nitin Gaur
Nitin Gaur, is currently working in capacity of Senior WebSphere Consulting IT Specialist with IBMs S&D Organization. Prior to teaming with IBM S&D organization, Nitin spend several years with WebSphere OEM team, a SWG entity and AIX support – ITS/IGS entity. In his 11 years with IBM he has achieved various industry recognized certifications and enriched his career by doing more than required by the defined job responsibilities. Prior to beginning his career with IBM, he was graduate student at University of Maryland University College. Apart from excelling in his normal job responsibilities, Nitin has been involved with many on going projects at IBM Austin. To name a few, Nitin has been an active member of Austin TVC – Technical Vitality Council, an IBM Academy affiliate since 2002.

As a technical leader Nitin has been involved in various technical paper presentations in various conferences at IBM and outside. The range of the topics presented by him span from software architectures to improvement of management processes. Nitin, has been focused on staying close to customer and always attuned to their needs and problems. One of his primary job responsibilities includes positioning WebSphere infrastructure products and providing technical solution and support to field sales teams. He is relentless in researching skills and presenting the industry best practices of IT Infrastructure. Performing advance technical research and providing IBM clients with strategic solutions on WebSphere offerings is one his forte.

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