Mobile Endpoint Devices Have To Be “Dumb” And Multi-modal, Not “Smart”

It’s unfortunate that the mobile device world got associated with the label “smart.” It made it easy to tag mobile devices as “smart” as indicative of every thing the device could support, even though the “smarts” were really based in software somewhere else in the network. Including “phone” in the label highlighted the fact that traditional voice telephony capabilities were accessible and integrated with other forms of communication and information (text, video, pictures, etc.).

As a result of this labeling, the traditional telephony carriers have continued their dominance of wired network access to the wireless world and the many mobile devices and “apps” that end users will exploit for both business and personal needs. This, in turn has had a ripple effect on business organizations with the need to support BYOD policies, a variety of “mobile apps” for different types of end users, using various devices, supplied by various service providers and carriers. What a mess!

Mobility is also causing traditional online business process applications to move from the desktop to handheld, mobile device form factors and be supported by a variety of mobile Operating Systems. The combination of devices, mobile operating systems, integration with a variety of business and communication applications has created a complex and impossible challenge for organizational IT to support as they used to with restrictive, premise-based technologies.

Mobile devices cannot be treated like traditional desktop PCs

Mobile end users, whether business users or consumers, want access to both communication person-to-person) and informational applications that are flexible enough for their different needs while mobile. Thus, they want selective access via different modalities of contact and different choices of user interface media (visual, voice, touch, etc.). The control of such interfaces, as well as the basic information for securing the identity and authorization of the end user to access information and applications, are really all that must be stored in a mobile device; all the rest of the “smarts” will be provided by a variety of different applications that can be stored in public and private wireless networks, better known these days as “clouds.”

We should have learned our lesson about using ‘dumb” devices back in the early days of he Internet, when end users could access a variety of online, interactive “time-shared” mainframe computer applications with simple “dumb” teletype terminals. Along came the PC which made “sharing” anything unnecessary, just take responsibility for controlling and supporting individual PC user hardware and software needs locally. Now, with multi-modal mobile devices,  we can get back to selectively managing, controlling access, and maintaining application software for both business and communication applications for all types of end users (mobile or desktop) in a centralized and responsive manner. Just make those endpoint devices as “dumb” as possible, with very “thin” software clients that provide controllable network access to the “smart” software applications in the wireless public and private “clouds.”

I have suggested changing the name of “smart phones” to “app phones,” to reflect the new role of telephony as just part of UC-enabled access to both mobile communication and automated business applications. Just don’t think telephony is that “smart!”

This topic will be discussed at length in an upcoming UC Strategies podcast discussion this week on this site, so stay tuned!

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