Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Mobile By Me

Yesterday afternoon I presented at a session on Mobile, along with two librarians. One gave a very good overview of developments that are going on  both here and in the US in using new technologies, including mobile apps,  in University libraries. Her slides are here, and there's a lot of good, interesting stuff.

The second gave an case study of how he'd developed a mobile app for his library  - I haven't got a link to his slides, but will post if I get one.

In the middle was me - looking at things from an IT Director perspective. Almost all of the other sessions are from the customer or information provider perspective, so I thought it was time to redress the balance, and go through some of the issues we have to find solutions to with this explosion in mobile.  I started with an analysis of our "customers", the people we're providing a support service to. What's important is that unlike many other people in the room, they're not just a workforce, but we have 25,000 students as well. The Bring Your Own Device Wars that people talk apart have never really been fought by us. Or if they have, it's by using the phrase, "we don't support that". And that was only when we had control, when we owned the hardware, software etc, which we tend not to anymore. So, I talked about our recent mobile survey and the results showing very high percentage ownership of mobile devices, especially smartphones. Then the issues we have to deal with, including providing a good infrastructure  -very pertinent to us in terms of wireless at the moment.  I covered delivery of services to devices, whether by mobile web or apps - both of which I think have a place for different things. Apps can give a much richer experience with access to more features, but are device specific. And finally, how you support users who have a huge number of different devices.

That's only a very quick summary of what I covered, but the main thrust was that we used to talk about developing a mobile strategy, and now I don't think we need one. Mobile internet access will overtake desktop internet access in the next couple of years and will be the main platform of delivery, so we should be embedding it in everything we do - not seeing it as something separate.

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