Issue 3, 2014
Building a mobile enterprise strategy with mobile BPM
Many companies are under pressure to extend their office-bound IT strategies to an increasingly mobile workforce. What if you could take your existing processes and apply them to the mobile device of any stakeholder? With Software AG’s Mobile Business Process Management (Mobile BPM) solution, process owners and process participants can interact anytime and anywhere with full transparency into their processes.
No technology trend has changed life and work so fundamentally as mobile. Almost half of the earth’s population now uses mobile communications. Ubiquitous access to information and services has become standard and transforms our behavior. The sustainable trend of mobile, supplemented by the consumerization of IT and Internet of Things movement, is now firmly entrenched across the business landscape. The ever-increasing use of powerful mobile devices—with an intuitive user experience and a huge number of apps—in everyday life has led users to expect the same in their work life.
Leading analysts predict more than 40 percent of the global workforce will be mobile by next year. But what is the impact on enterprises? How will they adapt to mobile and use it as a strategic component for establishing new business models and optimizing mission-critical business processes?
Figure 1: Mobile has transformed the user’s expectations.
The importance of mobile-enabled processes
The answer lies in building a mobile enterprise strategy with a user-centered approach that aligns the at-work technology experience with the at-home experience by providing a secure mobile access to processes, services and data. Utilizing collaborative and social functions in mobile applications enables enterprises to take advantage of faster cross-sector information exchange. One of the core components of any mobile enterprise strategy is mobile BPM.
Integrating mobile elevates the productivity benefits of BPM by removing the barriers to engaging employees, no matter where they are. Enterprises can accelerate and enrich the capture, transmission and provision of situational and context-related real-time process information and, most importantly, can significantly reduce the time needed for decisions. Employees can take actions immediately on business-relevant events even when they are not in the office.
Figure 2: Mobile BPM enriches data, processes and services.
In addition, built-in features of mobile devices, such as cameras and GPS, make capturing and storing task-relevant data easier and more accurate than ever before. All of these possibilities allow employees to work effectively outside the office and also harness the benefits of being mobile to improve productivity and the customer experience.
Challenges of mobile BPM
When enterprises start implementing a mobile enterprise strategy, they typically face a variety of challenges. It is crucial to establish seamless and secure integration with back-end and corporate systems to leverage existing investments, avoid building new IT silos and make targeted mobile innovation sustainable. Unfortunately, such projects can quickly become a major cost driver due to their complexity, unfamiliar and diverse mobile platform development approaches and new working practices.
Furthermore, enterprises need to be able to scale their mobile enterprise strategy across different mobile platforms and manage a large number of mobile devices, device types and apps effectively. They must also define specific security policies for each device and at the app level then deploy apps to internal or external users.
Figure 3: Enterprises face many challenges when it comes to mobile.
Mobile BPM with webMethods BPMS and webMethods Mobile Suite
Software AG’s Mobile BPM solution combines webMethods BPMS and webMethods Mobile Suite to support enterprises in overcoming these challenges by providing an end-to-end solution for building cross-platform enterprise mobile apps that are tightly integrated with existing webMethods BPMS infrastructure and other back-end systems. The unique wizard-driven approach enables enterprises to create mBPM applications for tasks across core mobile platforms, such as iOS® and Android®, within minutes and deploy them securely to all relevant stakeholders through both enterprise and public app stores. Additionally, fine-grained policies can define how mobile applications or devices should be used in specific business contexts and enable enterprises to realize a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) strategy.
Process participants can work on tasks—anytime and anywhere. This increases their productivity and accelerates processes significantly. In combination with native capabilities and built-in features of mobile devices, capturing and storing of task-relevant data is easier and more accurate than ever, and relevant data can be automatically set in context of a process or task.
Figure 4: Mobile BPM generic native app creation process for task interaction
Beyond mobile BPM
webMethods Mobile Suite brings many capabilities to the table. Its visual development environment—an integrated part of Software AG Designer—lets developers easily design new or customize generated apps. User interfaces and back-end services can be visually created by dragging elements from a palette, significantly reducing the amount of manual coding required. The auto-generated Model View Controller (MVC) project architecture allows developers to work on a project based on best practices.
Mobile Suite also provides OS-specific libraries to realize individual mobile project requirements and make functionality really simple. In conjunction with native code injection, developers can implement individual platform-specific functionality, such as support of iOS fingerprint sensor.
Figure 5: Mobile development view in Software AG Designer
Mobile Suite comes with an integrated simulator that features native skins so developers can preview the native UI of every target platform. This simulates how the mobile app will look on a wide variety of mobile devices. Since the simulator supports all major platforms with native resolutions, it is not necessary to install target platform SDKs on developer machines.
Another core component of Mobile Suite is the centralized cloud-based build environment that takes care of everything around builds, code signing and certificate management for publishing apps in both enterprise and public app stores. Developers do not need physical development environments, such as Xcode® for iOS. The centralized build server, accessible from all developer environments, can run scheduled builds and tests to prevent deploying inconsistent versions.
Mobile Suite benefits from Software AG’s leading and powerful integration capabilities by being fully integrated into the webMethods product stack. webMethods Integration Server Web services and REST services are directly usable and accessible within mobile development projects. The new mobile data sync component contributes out-of-the-box offline and automated data synchronization support for mobile applications.
With Software AG’s Mobile BPM solution, enterprises are able to master their mobility challenges very effectively and embrace their mobile workforce very efficiently. To find out if your company can benefit from a mobile enterprise strategy, review these five simple questions. The answers may surprise you.