Ask The Experts: Coverage Blights Mobile Working

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Mobile enterprise apps are all very well, but what happens when there’s no signal. IBM has advice

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My main concern is mobile apps that have no offline capability. I can never get consistent mobile coverage, not even in London? How are IBM MobileFirst addressing this?
(Business decision maker in an aerospace company)

IBM is not a mobile carrier so we can’t improve network coverage but we do work with our clients to mitigate the impact of the loss of connection. In the interests of a concise answer I will focus on the two main aspects to this: the development of apps that have offline capability and the automation of the (re)connection between an app and the requisite backend systems/services.

In most cases there is a very strong case for developing apps that have offline capability, although moving between online and offline will always have some impact on the use of and functionality of apps, the key should be to ensure that data isn’t lost and where appropriate through the use of other on-board technology such as GPS the user experience is continued until connection is re-established.

IBM MobileFirst includes a MEAP (Mobile Enterprise Application Platform) called Worklight and this embeds the concept of offline app use making it straightforward to develop an app compatible with all the main mobile platforms and with being used offline – the concept used to be referred to as store and forward and this is a useful indicator to some of the conditions required. For most apps to fulfil their purpose they must make an initial connection in order to download the requisite data: once that data is held locally it can be updated offline and then submitted automatically as soon as the connection becomes available.

The automation of (re)connection can also be handled through intelligent app design, for most enterprises this must include the (re)creation of a secure channel and this can be simply configured when building apps on the Worklight platform. The key is always to preserve the end user experience, simplifying their use of an app and interaction with backend data/systems, whilst maintaining an appropriate security stance.

There’s a lot more detail behind this, which I would be happy to share if you’d like. We can’t solve the connectivity/coverage problem but we can certainly mitigate the impact it has on the end user: you…

Answer provided by Simon Gale, CTO workplace services UKI IBM. Check out previous parts of our advertorial series ‘Ask the Experts’!

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