The Importance of Being "Standard"

tin cans being standard oma blog article

The mobile world can be daunting. With the variety of devices, operating systems, and wares (hardware, software, firmware … kitchenware?) it’s a wonder that anything works at all. How do phones from different manufacturers communicate with each other over infrastructure from different manufacturers using different technologies?

In a world where mobile players want to differentiate from their competition, being unique isn’t the answer; in fact, it can often mean the end. If your software is not properly designed, it can often become what is known as “throw-away code” as markets evolve and use cases adapt.

Sometimes being “standard” isn’t a terrible thing. And in the mobility world, we’re talking about the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA). For those who’ve been living in proprietary caves, OMA is an organization founded in 2002 by a group of the world’s leading operators, equipment manufacturers, IT pros, and content and service providers to develop standards that would allow for interoperability between differing technologies, devices, and networks

As I navigate through the mobile industry, I have seen time and time again how traditional proprietary point solutions, not based on OMA standards, have been rejected, abandoned, or discontinued because they were not designed to be reusable or extensible. What solved a problem yesterday may not solve the problem of today and could never solve the problem of tomorrow. The mobile world is itself mobile—constantly changing, evolving, and expanding. Companies can no longer afford to use solutions that are not able to be expanded and customized on-demand. In fact, as their mobility increases, companies are becoming more sophisticated in their approach to bridging the gap between corporate and personal needs. They are looking for solution providers, not point products.

These businesses are realizing that solutions that are based on standards, such as OMA, and have licensable APIs, provide them the robust flexibility needed to develop in-house customized solutions. And these solutions come on an as-needed basis to meet their ever-changing demands—without having to purchase a new product. I have seen several enterprises use these APIs to develop custom geo-fencing and data sharing extensions on top of a robust base OMA DM platform.

Another benefit of a standards-based solution is that it simplifies the process of integration with existing processes and protocols. This is particularly useful in the telematics industry, where a great deal of effort has already been spent to develop safety protocols, and there is little desire to try to reinvent these.

Finally, a modular architecture enables the development of wrappers and policy-based management tools to configure solutions on-demand—and push updates as needed, based on defined user groups. In essence, the future belongs to those who can present a simple solution to solve all the complex problems and use cases that enterprises face.

The mobile world is complicated and getting more so by the day. In a world of increasing complexity, the way to differentiate is to simplify the problems of your customers for today and tomorrow. That is, to be “standard.”

What is your take on being “standard”? Post your opinions in the comment section.


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