CIOs talk mobile enterprise innovation at CTIA

SAN FRANCISCO--Executives from across the American corporate landscape grabbed the spotlight here at the CTIA Enterprise & Applications 2010 conference, discussing the growing impact of mobile technologies on their businesses. Thursday's CIO Roundtable keynote event made it clear that mobility is delivering innovation throughout the enterprise segment, enabling professionals to stay better connected with colleagues and customers alike. "Mobile phones give you 5 billon points of presence in the market--the opportunity is huge," said John Dick, senior vice president and CIO with money transfer services provider Western Union.

But while enterprises grasp the importance of mobile services, deploying and maintaining them still poses enormous challenges. "You have to understand the business functions of what you're trying to achieve" when rolling out mobile services, said Jackie Woods, systems manager with shipping giant UPS.

Fragmentation across devices, networks and operating systems creates serious problems, said Rusty Yeager, vice president and deputy CIO of healthcare services provider HealthSouth: "You get caught up in a conundrum of non-standardization." Another pain point: Spotty network coverage.

Businesses must introduce mobile applications and devices that not only meet the demands of the company and its customers, but also adapt to the unique demands and responsibilities of individual employees, Yeager said. "Different use cases drive different devices--the key is figuring out which device fits each person's role and their personality," he explained.

Businesses are rapidly moving beyond the BlackBerry devices once synonymous with the prosumer set. According to Dick, a growing number of consumer-oriented devices now include enterprise-grade services like remote data wipe, accelerating corporate adoption. He added that Western Union will extend support to non-traditional enterprise platforms like iPhone and Android in the months ahead. "We need to give our employees more freedom," Dick said.  

Devices entering the enterprise also include tablets like Apple's iPad. "Healthcare workers are highly mobile and highly collaborative, and these devices are perfect for that," Yeager said.

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