By: Johani Marais, HansaWorld South Africa country manager
The notion of taking enterprise resource planning solutions out of the back office and on to mobile devices isn’t a new one. However, with the growing popularity and ubiquity of the Google Android operating system, a viable, simple and low-cost platform is already in the hands of businesspeople everywhere. More than that, from a vendor’s perspective, Android offers the ability to create standard applications which can be easily bought, configured and deployed by the user.
That’s probably the major difference which is ushered in with the advent of more powerful smartphones and the open platform which is Android. Custom-developed solutions which require armies of developers and testers and ongoing maintenance and version control are simply no longer necessary.
HansaWorld, for example, offers ‘Mobile Reports’, released in April on the Android Market. This application uses back-end data to provide the user with detailed insight into company performance in real time.
The proof of the pudding, of course, lies in whether or not Android-based devices really are getting into the market. While it may be a little late to the party compared with Symbian, BlackBerry OS and iOS, Gartner already puts Android’s market share on smartphones at near 50% (April 2011). That’s staggering growth which is reflective of the value seen by the market (and the ecosystem which delivers apps to users). Already, some estimates put the number of apps available on Android at above 250 000.
As business owners and managers continue to see the value if mobile information access, the vendors of ERP solutions will continue to develop more applications that extend company systems out of the back office and on to smartphones.
The emergence of tablets, initially dominated by the iPad, is likely to have a further stimulatory effect. Similar to the handset market, Android provides several advantages over tablets based on other operating systems; it is inexpensive, it allows for competition between manufacturers and it has a growing ecosystem of developers interested in creating applications for the platform.
And Android is a Google product; Google is arguably the leading pioneer in profitable, yet free to the end user, software systems.
With the researchers like Gartner and IDC anticipating further growth in Android, and as more developers turn their attention to creating compelling apps (both the fun ones we use for entertainment and the serious ones we use for business), it is looking very much like an Android world. A world in which work and play are combined on to increasingly powerful mobile devices and insights into the most detailed metrics describing company performance are always readily at hand.