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Introduction to Mobilizing Line of Business (LOB) Applications

Nokia for Business

Introduction to Mobilizing Line of Business (LOB) Applications

June 2007

Abstract
This paper outlines the different types of mobile solutions, data collection, data distribution and data management. It also outlines the variety of mobile devices available today and how they fit a specific purpose very often. Considerations for choosing a device and building an application are covered. Finally, the case will be made for offline architecture when building mobile solutions. Nokia Intellisync File Sync and Nokia Intellisync Application Sync provide a secure, scalable and extremely flexible platform to enable Line of Business (LOB) application usage on mobile devices.

Introduction
While the development of mobile devices has enabled mobile workers to access email and browse websites while away from their desks, companies today are looking for mobility solutions beyond these basics. They want their mobile workforce to have access to important business data and corporate applications while on the road. It is rare today to see a delivery truck driver without a handheld computer. These devices usually have a barcode scanner to identify each package scheduled for delivery, and a screen area where the customer signs to verify receipt. The software application on the handheld device is part of a complete solution for tracking and managing the delivery of goods. While logistics and proof of delivery were among the first mobile applications on handheld devices, mobile workers have been carrying around applications on their laptop computers for many years. In fact, Nokia customers have been mobilizing application data on laptops for over a decade. Thus, while the basic notion of mobilizing applications is not new, the impressive growth of mobile email device use has led to an increased awareness of the possibilities for deploying real business processes on handheld devices. The first section of this paper provides an overview of Line of Business applications, as well as applicable mobile devices on the market and their suitability to different purposes. It also covers how to build client applications using today's most popular tools. A later section covers the architectural options for occasionally connected and online applications. Finally, we provide an overview of Nokia Intellisync Mobile Suite and how to create applications that allow companies to manage their business information in the field.

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Nokia for Business

Introduction to Mobilizing Line of Business (LOB) Applications

June 2007

Types of Mobile Applications
One might assume that creating mobile applications is just about bringing desktop application functionality to mobile devices. While it is possible to use this simplified approach, taking time before implementation to learn about application fundamentals and design can save a lot of work and still improve the usability of the mobile application. Application mobilization involves many critical considerations. Among the most important is the need to understand how information is collected into the business process and how it is managed in a specific application. Information management can be divided into three categories: Data Collection, Data Distribution and Data Management. Data Collection Many business processes are dependent on information that exists outside the company. However, this information becomes valuable only after it has been captured, analyzed and associated with existing company information. An example of this process is marketing lead collection, where a marketing or sales person captures prospective customer information. This data is then associated with the prospect's specific interest in a product or service offering, and finally is entered into the company information system. Another example involves automobile traffic analysis, where a road authority captures and stores traffic flow parameters (number of vehicles, speed and traffic frequency) real-time on a mobile device, for detailed analysis later in the back office. There are certain interesting characteristics in this application type • Information is captured on a mobile device and briefly classified and analyzed, but the actual information processing usually takes elsewhere at a later time. • The information is stored temporarily to a mobile device. As soon as it is synchronized to company information systems, the original information becomes obsolete and may be flushed. The mobile device has to be connected only occasionally; there is no need for permanent connection to corporate systems. • Capturing the information may be assisted with specific peripherals connected to the mobile device: a barcode or RFID reader, camera and/or video recorder. The application is usually customized to a specific purpose and the user interface is designed for quick and easy input. The Nokia Intellisync Mobile Applications Starter Kit provides sample solutions including a lead collection application as described above. Data Distribution Companies with widespread mobile workers need to deliver information to their employees without requiring them to visit the office or connect to the network via their laptop. A snippet of a business update is usually delivered via email. However, in order comply with regulatory standards, companies must ensure specific information reaches their employees and/or customers whenever needed. General examples of such information are price lists, corporate security notifications, and press statements. Technical organizations may also need to keep their audiences up-to-date with product notifications, product security bulletins, and technical resolutions. Saturating the company internal mailboxes or email inboxes with this information is not only impractical, but also inconvenient or irritating for the recipients. Applications designed for data distribution are usually very straightforward, without any complex business logic on the client side. Information may be in the form of web pages that can be browsed offline on mobile devices, via simple search and browsing functionality. The information itself may be stored in a native office application format that can be viewed and edited on the mobile device. The company can define the information to be pushed to employees and customers whenever an update is made to the company files in the office. In order to maintain an appropriate user experience and control data delivery costs, ordinary file management mechanisms — such as copying and deleting files — are not applicable for the delivery of information to mobile devices. Nokia Intellisync File Sync allows you to create applications that automate company information delivery to mobile devices and give users a convenient way to access the information they need. The sample applications in the Starter Kit will guide you through configuration of the Nokia Intellisync Mobile Suite server and prepare you to further develop your own client applications.

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Nokia for Business

Introduction to Mobilizing Line of Business (LOB) Applications

June 2007

Data Management Compared to the other application types, the most distinguishing feature of data management is that information available from company systems is combined with information captured by the mobile worker to create new information with more value than either of the sources alone. In other words, data management is about processing information from the field and the existing information systems. The complexity of multiple data sources and the business processes created to manage that information sets new requirements for data management applications and client architecture. It is no longer adequate to synchronize classified information in a unidirectional manner between company information systems and mobile devices; you now need to manage data coherency and business process consistency in the entire system. A superior way to implement data management in mobile devices entails creating a custom application that connects to a local database, which is then further synchronized to a company information system. Other options involve the always-on connection of a slim client directly to information systems in the company network. Developers who plan to create a data management application face the following challenges, at a minimum: • Authentication: Implement user identification throughout the entire application • Secure connectivity: Ensure data confidentiality and integrity during data transfer • Efficient transport of deltas: Detect changes made on both the mobile device and company information system, and transmit with the least network effort) • Conflict resolution: Determine which of the changes that occurred to the same piece of information is more valid • Data partitioning: Determine which elements of data are required by which users. • Transactional integrity: Apply changes made in all copies of the information to achieve consistent results • User interface adopted to business logic: How to best present the information to the user and achieve adequate usability and functionality

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Nokia for Business

Introduction to Mobilizing Line of Business (LOB) Applications

June 2007

Mobile Devices

There are many varied devices in the market today, with different sets of features and characteristics. The Nokia E90 pictured above is small yet powerful, with a full qwerty keyboard and built-in camera. It is also a telephone and satellite navigation unit. The Dolphin 9550 from Handheld Products has a barcode scanner, touch screen, pistol grip for easy scanning operation, and is built for rugged use. For an insurance company mobile sales force or a team of real estate surveyors capturing images and GPS locations, the Nokia E90 would likely be the appropriate device choice. For warehouse management or parcel delivery, the Dolphin device is probably more suitable Identify a Shortlist of Devices The first step in mobilizing an application is to determine the specific types of data to be captured in the field. A typical list might include • Pictures • GPS location • Barcode • Signature • Sound and video • Answers to multiple choice questions • A number • A passage of text Next, match each requirement to the features of the device under consideration. For example, if text must be entered, then a qwerty keyboard is a requirement. If not, then a simple number pad may be enough. Other factors that may impact the selection of appropriate devices include: Battery Life: It is not essential to have very long battery life if the device is to be mounted in a vehicle, where it will be continually charged. Do not weigh battery life highly if it is not an issue! Operating System: The most popular mobile operating systems are Symbian, Palm OS and Windows (XP or CE). Selecting other systems may lead to difficulties in developing the application or managing the device. Development skills within the company may also influence choice. For example, if IT staff are skilled in building Java applications, then Symbian may be the best choice due to the built-in J2ME support. But if Microsoft development skills are more prevalent, then Windows OS may be the better choice. Memory: How much data needs to be stored on the device?

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Nokia for Business

Introduction to Mobilizing Line of Business (LOB) Applications

June 2007

Network Connectivity: How will the devices connect to the corporate network: Cradle, Wireless LAN, Cellular?

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Nokia for Business

Introduction to Mobilizing Line of Business (LOB) Applications

June 2007

Creating the Client Application

The developer's choice of how to create the client application should be driven by the skills within the company or the partner chosen to deliver the solution. Microsoft Visual Studio offers an extensive mobile development environment. Wizards make it easy to build database applications using SQL Server Compact Edition. The Eclipse project offers a plugin called Mobile Tools for Java (MTJ) for building J2ME applications. Sun's Netbeans also offers a J2ME plugin. Some believe that mobile client development is a complex process requiring application generation tools. This is not the case. Microsoft, Eclipse and Sun's tools use wizards to generate much of the code required for the application. Once the application requires more sophisticated functionality, there is no substitute for writing new code.

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Nokia for Business

Introduction to Mobilizing Line of Business (LOB) Applications

June 2007

Client Architecture - Always Online?
Contrary to popular belief, Internet access is not yet universal. Places without wireless Internet availability include: • Underground trains • Airplanes • Most of Africa • Most of South America • Most of Russia • Anywhere at sea Some parts of the United States do not yet have cell coverage. To state that mobile applications should work online only is clearly a tremendous mistake. The fact that not a single popular wireless email solution on the market today uses an always-online model should be proof enough. What data needs to be available for offline usage? How much data should be kept on the device? How should the data be transferred to and from the device? The first two questions will be answered by the requirements of the solution. The third requires a discussion of the options. Database Replication Replication was designed to allow multiple database servers to mirror each other's data in order to spread load and/or risk. While the replication process was never intended for mobile clients, technology has evolved enough to make this use case worth considering. However, in practice, replication is difficult to configure and manage, does not scale well and requires the client database to be the same as the server database, which is not always desirable. Home-grown Synchronization While it is possible to build the data synchronization along with the solution, this seems like reinventing the space shuttle! Building synchronization software involves consideration of many difficult problems: • Authentication • Secure connectivity • Efficient transport of deltas • Conflict resolution • Data partitioning • Transactional integrity Even simple applications that store data in files rather than relational databases must consider these issues. Writing code to move files via ftp does not constitute secure middleware in today's enterprise environments.

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Nokia for Business

Introduction to Mobilizing Line of Business (LOB) Applications

June 2007

Nokia Intellisync Mobile Suite
It seems logical to use one server to address all corporate mobility needs, wireless email, device management and LOB application deployment. Nokia Intellisync Mobile Suite provides a single-server approach: one server, one communication client, one secure channel, one authentication step, one user log, one administration console, one system to load balance and configure redundancy. The four modules in the suite are: • Nokia Intellisync Wireless Email • Nokia Intellisync Device Management • Nokia Intellisync File Sync • Nokia Intellisync Application Sync Learn More - Try the Mobile Application Starter Kit The Starter Kit contains sample applications that can be easily installed and configured in a test environment, using either Nokia Intellisync Application Sync or Nokia Intellisync File Sync to demonstrate the simplicity of the solution. Find more information, documents, training and contacting Nokia experts, please register and go to www.forum.nokia.com/mobileware.

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Nokia for Business

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© Nokia 2007. All rights reserved. Nokia is a registered trademarks of Nokia Corporation. Other trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners. THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT WARRANTED TO BE ERRORFREE, NOR IS IT SUBJECT TO ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES. Operations and some features are network, device or application dependent. Nokia operates a policy of continuous development and reserves the right to make changes and improvements to any products without prior notice.