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Time to brush up on mobile development skills

As Hewlett-Packard preps its would-be Apple iPad killer — the HP TouchPad — for release on July 1, a new research report from ABI Research predicts that the market for enterprise smartphone and media tablet applications will reach 830 million just five years from now.

The research firm says that it counted both potential business-to-business usage scenarios and business-to-consumer applications when it came up this this prediction. ABI notes: “In both cases, enterprises are leveraging their vast stores of corporate data to make employees more efficient and to foster greater customer intimacy.”

Recognizing that most VARs and systems integrators probably don’t get any resale money from mobile devices — short of any agent fee they might earn — this is yet another indicator pointing to the need for IT solution providers to shore up their mobile applications development toolset. The opportunity is threefold:

  1. Creation of specialized vertical applications that might be delivered to these devices as a service (ala the software as a service model). If you have any kind of mobile practice today, you are probably already designing apps on a custom basis. Delivery to a mobile device via the cloud might help your organization scale that initiative.
  2. Custom integration that makes tablets and smartphones more seamless citizens of existing corporate applications. It is pretty clear that these devices are just one of several ways that people will use to access corporate data. Making sure that experience is as easy as possible is a great skill to boast.
  3. Security, security, security. Some of the mobile healthcare solution providers that I have interviewed in recent months, as an example, are relying on client virtualization software to secure applications on tablet devices. In any case, setting security policy for tablet or smartphone access is a vitally important role to play.

The mobile apps data is covered in further detail in ABI’s “Mobile Enterprise Applications for Smartphones and Media Tablets” report.

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