Just when you thought the world had reached its natural limit of technology acronyms, the emergence of mobility in the enterprise brings with it a new one - MEAPs.
MEAPs, mobile enterprise application platforms, generally provide an environment for managing and deploying mobile applications across multiple devices with varying operating systems. For example, if your organization has a mobile app that you want to deploy on the iPhone and iPad as well as Windows Phone 7, Android, or BlackBerry, then you have an immediate complication in order to deploy and support the application. A quality MEAP can help you overcome these hurdles.
So how do you tell when your enterprise is ready for such technology? Here are 3 simple tell-tale signs:
Are you planning to deploy mobile capabilities on two or more devices or operating systems? If so, then a MEAP may facilitate the managing and monitoring of these devices. MEAPs can provide the capability to implement and execute security protocols, wipe devices that are reported lost or stolen, and generally monitor activity and access.
If your enterprise is starting the foray into mobile with a single discrete application, then implementing a MEAP is likely overkill. If, however, your strategy includes 3 or more apps of varying robustness, user audiences, and plan for future enhancements, then adding a MEAP to the mix is a necessary step for sustained success.
Mobile applications, typically narrow in scope, seem like such benign characters that many enterprises resist adding more technology to the equation. But given the speedy growth and adoption in mobility, considering the proper infrastructure upfront will pay dividends once you find more departments demanding additional capabilities delivered through mobile devices. Make no mistake, this isn't a train with only one stop.
It started simply enough with your remote sales force clamoring for mobile access to the CRM database, right? And now the executive team wants access to district and regional reporting, but that's in your financial accounting system. And what about real-time inventory data or order fulfillment?
The minute you need to serve up data from multiple back-end systems, aggregated or otherwise, you better have a MEAP in place. This isn't something you want to be scrambling to source and implement after the fact. Plan, anticipate, and predict where the data demands and capabilities will lead, and develop the infrastructure to support it. For most enterpises, data residing in back-end systems represents highly-sensitive corporate assets that are to be protected, not shared. But it's a brave new world, and indeed it's possible to do both. This is where a MEAP can help.
MEAPs come in all colors and flavors. It's an acronym, not a definition - a suggestion of capabilities, not a roadmap. And, as with most mobile technologies, it's a fast-changing market where the definition is purposely loose at the moment. Some MEAPs focus on device-level security, monitoring, and management, while others focus on the security and data mining for the enterprise. Still others provide development environments for coding once and compiling source code for native apps on multiple devices. Define what you need now, what you're likely to need in the future, and use that information to find the best technology to support your mobile strategy.