One of the strangest things to happen at EMC World was the announcement by EMC of a mobile client for the iPad. It is scheduled to arrive in Q3 of 2011 (I made them commit to a specific Q3). Some people even said July 15, but I’d be more than happy with an arrival before Labor Day.
So why is that strange? Doesn’t everyone need a mobile client? Isn’t that a cornerstone of Choice Computing? Doesn’t Sarah, the new user, want access to information anywhere on every device. Well, you are correct on all fronts.
The strange part is that when you take a step back, you realize that the market is already addressing this need.
I covered this in several posts, but the goal for EMC is to have multiple mobile releases, targeting one every three months give-or-take. The first release is for the iPad, the second will be for the iPhone.
What I haven’t talked much about is that the interface looks a lot like the Media WorkSpace client and the communication between the app and the Content Server is being done through the 2nd early access release of the REST API. I expect/hope they’ll release it on the planned 3rd release this summer.
It wasn’t a shiny application, but it looked real. I got the feeling that it was a real product and that it WILL be out this Q3 and not one 2 years from now.
That wasn’t the only mobile application on display in the keynote.
To Box or not to Box
Do you know what other mobile app I saw EMC people use at the conference? I saw the Box application for the iPad live on-stage during Jeetu’s keynote. It works fairly well and is out now. There is also a version for the iPhone and Android. Box has a strategic partnership with EMC to help provide “Content Mobility” so you would think that their interface would be fairly decent..
So this raises the question, why not use Box instead of EMC’s app?
I actually asked Jeetu that question during the post keynote milling of people up front. He said that it was because the EMC app would have tighter integration with the process elements of Documentum and be free to licensed customers.
You know something, those were good reasons, especially considering the “ambush” nature of my question. I saw clear use cases for both applications without complete overlap. Things were okay in my head until Lee Dallas reminded me of the reality that has been in effect for over a year.
There are lots of other apps out there as well.
Pick an App, Any App
I quickly remembered that many companies had been releasing mobile apps over the past two years. If we just consider applications that are based upon the CMIS standard, you realize that there were lots of options.
In fact, during EMC World, multiple people approached me to show me their mobile application. While none of the apps is what I would consider game-changing, they all solved different business applications. They all have a place in the market.
They also happen to be released and being supported today.
It raises the question, is there a place for generic Documentum applications? Jeetu talked about tying their apps to process. Of course, other people will write those types of applications as well.
What Should EMC Do?
What I see in the mobile app right now is a checkbox feature. Don’t get me wrong, too many companies rely on those checkboxes when picking software, so it is a must-have for EMC. The question is, aside from getting that checkbox, what should EMC target?
First, develop enabling technologies. That means leading-edge CMIS support and pushing the proposed browser binding for the 1.1 version of CMIS. It also means pushing forward on the REST API to allow for partners and other companies to build business specific applications leveraging the deeper, compared to CMIS, functionality of Documentum.
If the value proposition is the tie into the business process functionality, write an application that is a framework. TaskSpace mobile? Why not write an app that sends TaskSpace components to a mobile app automatically? How about making sure that the Information Rights Management products works on mobile clients?
Those might be some things that EMC could do better than partner companies.
As for generic applications, promote partner applications that are already developed. Use some of the same logic that led to the current Collaboration strategy. If you can’t do it all, make sure that you are investing in the right areas.
Just a thought.
Throwing some links to mobile apps out there. There is no endorsement of any of these apps. These are just known apps that are released. If something isn’t on here, I likely just forgot, hadn’t heard of it, or couldn’t find the link. The point is to show that there are options now.
- Documentum: fme docspread, Flatirons iCMS
- CMIS: Generis’s CARA, Open-Source Android CMIS Browser, YerbaBuena
I know that there are more out there, so feel free to add links in comments. Keep the sales pitch to a minimum when linking or I will remove the comment.