There’s no shortage of consternation at the current cycle of business people telling IT people how it’s going to be.
Often this starts with the demand to accommodate other devices in the workplace than the currently “approved” ones.
Dying on the hill marked “No, you can’t have an iPad” is a silly way to go.
Instead, the iPhones, iPads, Android phones, BlackBerry PlayBooks and so on should be seen as a wonderful opportunity.
What is it people want to do with a mobile device?
Not “data”. Tabular data works fine on a large scale monitor.
So, too, a large monitor — or a pair of them — allows multiple sources to be “open at once”. The human eye then does the correlations.
On mobile devices, an application is the screen. The screen, in turn, is small.
You need to build apps for your own business purpose.
This is a wonderful chance to demonstrate first steps on the path toward an information-centred “It”, rather than a technology-centred “iT”.
Aside from skill in app coding (relatively easy to come by or learn), the key elements are either already in the IT group, or should be being added anyway:
You do need skills in managing databases: an internal app needs to look at internal data.
You need to add to that someone with skills in information sciences, an “iSchool” type of background. That data needs to turned into information.
You’ll be adding some curated resources from the non-structured world. Remember your target is a device where only one app, one window, is open at a time.
Some help in turning information into visual forms that add meaning would be helpful. Someone steeped in the thinking of Edward Tufte, perhaps.
You’ll want what people look at to be annotated and circulated, as well, another digital curation effort.
You’ll also need some subject matter expertise: a pricing expert for a “what if” pricing app to be used in meetings, for instance.
Yes, there’s a need for simple things. “Is this room free/book it” apps, “how are we doing” dashboards, and the like.
But one of these information apps says, in no uncertain terms, “I’m building for your work life”.
Just like the Sony Walkman when it first came out, there aren’t many who could tell you in advance that “I want this”.
Your app, in turn, can build the necessary security and integrity into itself.
Start-up companies deliver things like this for small amounts of money routinely. You can, too.