Keeping up with mobile computing boom

Technological and administrative issues must be overcome if the Middle East is to keep up with a global boom in connected computing, the head of IBM’s software group in the Middle East, Bashar Kilani, has warned.

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By  Patrick Phelvin Published  December 13, 2003

Technological and administrative issues must be overcome if the Middle East is to keep up with a global boom in connected computing, the head of IBM’s software group in the Middle East, Bashar Kilani, has warned.

But Kilani, speaking at the Dubai PDA Summit, said a major opportunity exits for the region to learn from the early experiences of other regions.

Statistics indicate that there will be a global market of some 10 billion connected devices by 2005: a result of the convergence between traditional desktop and data centre computing and telephony.

“Research shows us that by 2005, we can expect some 70% of global enterprise companies to have deployed mobile computing solutions in their businesses. In fact, some 75% of European companies will provide wireless applications to their employees in the next year,” said Kilani. “But we face some very real challenges if we are to enjoy the increases in productivity and capabilities that these technologies bring to companies in this region,” he warned.

The growing trend towards competitive public wireless networks, enabled through GSM and now 3G mobile technologies, is opening up enormous new markets in the region, with millions of people now using mobiles in their everyday lives. With the advent of new ‘convergent’ devices such as wireless-equipped notebook computers and hand held PDAs, businesses can operate using pervasive computing technologies to ensure that every employee is online and connected to the company’s knowledge, resources and systems.

However, the challenge to companies in the Middle East trying to implement such systems comes from a lack of clear regulation and legislation in many areas: potential barriers to the implementation of wireless networks. Added to this, there are complex technology issues that can hold back growth in the adoption of wireless solutions by companies: Even where the regulatory environment is clear and wireless networks can be freely deployed, companies face technology hurdles: a wide number of innovative solutions are available and they can be very hard to integrate into a single, company-wide mobile resource that is truly technology and network independent.

“There is a need to simplify complex networks by using software that ties together fixed, data centre and desktop sytems, with a wide range of mobile devices that can each have a defined role in a company’s mobile strategy. Only then can companies in this region build effective mobile solutions that drive true advantage,” added Kilani.

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