Mobile Applications and Portal
Octavian Dospinescu, Doina Fotache, Bogdanel Adrian Munteanu
Business Information System Department, FEAA, Al. I Cuza University of Iasi, Romania
Luminiţa Hurbean
Business Information System Department, FSE, West University of Timisoara, Romania
Keywords: Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), integration, mobility, portal, mobile ERP.
Abstract: Wireless applications provide new opportunities for organizations: in order to take advantage from the
features of ubiquitous environment, ERP systems have to support the mobile behaviour of their users. The
paper explores the mobile applications landscape and proposes an architecture model for the mobile services
starting from the necessary unidentified functionalities for a portal of mobile services. Besides the general
architecture of a portal of mobile applications for companies, a set of minimal functionalities for
implementation is proposed in order to ensure the promotion and use of services.
The long-ago inflexibility of earlier ERP systems
from SAP, Oracle and PeopleSoft pushed the
customization drive. Customers are moving from a
"best-of-breed" to a "best-for-business" approach,
implying they prefer extensions to their existing
ERP for applications like planning and optimization,
business intelligence and knowledge management.
Verticalization is another noticeable trend. ERP
vendors needed to tailor their software to the
requirements of specific industry verticals.
Verticalization means not just adding new
functionality to a given industry solution, but adding
vertical functionality to the horizontal functions
within the ERP package: workflows, supply chains,
data warehouses, and analytical tools should all be
Outsourcing of ERP operations is the next emerging
trend as a company can typically save operational
costs close to 50%. With the improvement in
connectivity, the option of "ERP as a service" using
the SaaS (Software as a Service) model is now
proving to be viable. The current generation ERPs,
which are based on web architecture, and uses
technologies like Service Oriented Architecture can
easily facilitate this distributed mode.
"Mobility doesn't support service businesses, it
changes them", "Put your business in motion", or
"Mobilize your ERP system today" are new mottos
(, ,
ors/mobile/plan/mobilerp.mspx#EOLAC) in a
dynamic and on the move world. It is estimated that
25% of the workforce is travelling one or more days
a week, 2003).
While away, many are supported by e-mail,
calendar, and contact information, but very few are
supported by information from their ERP/CRM
system. Therefore mobile ERP/CRM is relevant to a
large number of professionals and that could be the
reason why many analysts predict very high growth
in the mobile computing industry.
In addition, the emergence of sophisticated mobile
devices, such as smartphones or pocket PCs, has
added a new element into the enterprise, as they can
enable mobile workers to remotely access e-mail and
mission critical line-of-business applications.
For short, mobile ERP is about having access to
software that allows a mobile device to be connected
to the ERP system of an organization through a
mobile net of communications and transmission of
One of the most valuable benefits that motivate the
users to decide on for this option is the possibility to
access in real time to all the related data for a
distinct operation or any other corporate applications
of ERP (
and-the-future-mobile/1.html, 2007).
Dospinescu O., Fotache D., Adrian Munteanu B. and Hurbean L. (2008).
ERP TRENDS - Mobile Applications and Portal.
In Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems - DISI, pages 425-428
DOI: 10.5220/0001682004250428
Organizations will sense such positive effects as
significantly lower transaction cost, improved cash
flow, fewer disagreements with existing customers,
and, last, but not least, more satisfied employees.
An interesting tendency is expected in the near
future: the rise of mobile devices supporting Web
services, service-oriented architectures, and SaaS.
In response to the mobility trend, our study came
across many companies offer services and software
that extend existing or deliver new end-to-end ERP
solutions to mobile devices. We determined large
ERP software vendors and niche solution providers
experienced in "mobilizing" ERP solutions or
providing middleware applications. Also, new
partnerships emerged, involving ERP vendors,
mobile application developers, consulting providers,
telecom firms, and middleware developers.
We witnessed Microsoft launching their new
products Mobile Sales Assistant & Mobile Business
Assistant, that support Dynamics line products
(NAV, AX, GP) strategy to offer roles- and task-
based applications to empower employees.
The ERP world leader, SAP AG has extended their
business applications such as e-business
and services to mobile workers around the world.
The mySAP Workplace provides mobile users with
the ability to access functionality and
other applications as well as maintain personal
There are some pro arguments to mobilize the
enterprise; some directly affect the employees, while
others affect their interaction with your customers
and existing business applications, while still others
affect the business’s finances (Lee, 2004).
Some authors consider that the context of general
business will change in three aspects: multinational
localization, changing basis for competition, ICT
Product/Process Innovation (Murray, 2000).
Within an architecture based on mobile services the
following functionalities must be available:
the client’s possibility to look for the provider
which can offer mobile services he needs, eventually
in certain conditions of quality and price;
the client has a “list of reserves” with the
providers and services that can be appealed to if the
initial service become unavailable temporarily;
the possibility of the provider to accept/reject the
requests of a client regarding a certain service;
the client sending the firm request to the
provider, by offering the necessary data and
elements for carrying out the service;
when a client chooses a mobile service provider,
he should be sure that the eventual cultural
differences between them will affect the contractual
relation to the smallest extent possible.
Starting from these functionalities, we propose
architecture based on the general concept of services
portal. In fact, this portal accomplishes the role of
broker, both for the client and for the provider.
Mobile Service
Offers management
Requests management
Mobile Services Portal
Mobile Service
Mobile Service
Mobile Internet
Mobile Service
Mobile Service
Mobile Service
Mobile Internet
Figure 1: The architecture based on portal for enterprise
mobile services.
We consider that the architecture proposed can be
divided in two distinct components, according to the
entity that the mobile services portal interacts with:
the interface with the clients and the interface with
the providers. Based on the identified functionalities,
the portal must support several types of orders
presented in Table 1.
Table 1: "Requests management" orders.
Find a
The portal will search in the list of mobile
services available the one that corresponds with
the criteria specified by the client: quality, price,
execution time etc. It is also returned a “list of
reserves” with the services that can be appealed
in the case that the first becomes unavailable for
several reasons.
The portal will connect the client with the
provider chosen after “find a service”. The
portal can offer the client identification data or
can demand the service in his own name,
continuing to provide the client transparently.
The portal will request the execution of the
service by the provider, under the conditions
established after the “request connection” order.
This order should be executed under the
conditions in which the initial service or
provider temporarily becomes unavailable.
ICEIS 2008 - International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
According to the degree of development of the
portal, this should execute the “find a service” orders
trying to attenuate as much as possible the eventual
cultural differences between the client and the
provider. In a list of available services that are
identical, the portal would firstly suggest the client
the one that most resembles the client’s culture.
We consider that for increasing the portal flexibility,
the implementation of an order of the type
“negotiated” which allows a client to negotiate
different terms of the contractual relation (price,
execution time, execution parameters etc.) with
different providers would be indicated.
We propose a special architecture in order to expand
the capabilities of Microsoft NAVISION, which is
one of the most important ERP products
accessed on November 2007; Navision ERP
Solution has more than 83,000 customers). Usually,
this ERP system operates on desktops and servers,
but we intend to improve its capabilities in order to
be a mobile alternative for managers.
Figure 2: The main architecture for transforming a
“desktop” ERP into a mobile ERP.
The servers that are designed in Figure 2 have
different roles, from authentication to data
transmission from database to the final mobile users.
The vision to expand the capabilities of NAVISION
ERP system also includes the web services,
implemented on .NET platform.
These services offer to the mobile users (PDA,
SmartPhone) the functionalities that are required in
order to obtain reports about the state of the
company. For example, the web service function
getCustomers() provides the dataset containing the
list of the customers. This function can be
customized by the user with parameters (e.g. best
customer, most important/less important customer).
Imports System.Web
Imports System.Web.Services
Imports System.Web.Services.Protocols
Imports System.Data.SqlClient
Imports System.Data.OleDb
<WebService(Namespace:="")> _
ofile1_1)> _
erGenerated()> _
Public Class Service
Inherits System.Web.Services.WebService
’—the definition of getCustomers() function
<WebMethod()> _
Public Function getCustomers() As Data.DataSet
Dim setDate As New Data.DataSet()
Dim conexiune As New SqlConnection()
Dim comanda As New SqlCommand()
Dim adaptor As New SqlDataAdapter()
conexiune.ConnectionString = "Data
Source=DOCTAV;Initial Catalog='Navision Demo
Database (4-0)';Integrated Security=True"
comanda.CommandText = "SELECT [Name] AS
NUME from [dbo].[CRONUS Romania SRL$Customer]
comanda.Connection = conexiune
adaptor.SelectCommand = comanda
adaptor.Fill(setDate, "CLIENTI")
Return setDate
End Function
End Class
The web service can be invoked through a web
browser or another kind of client.
To develop the mobile application, we also used the
.NET platform and we first test on PDA emulators
the connection with the web services. The main
advantages of using the combination between web
services and mobile PDA applications are:
the final clients (PDA users) do not need extra
power for querying or processing data, because the
web services on the server side do that;
if one client loses the wireless connection with
the server, the others are able to use the services
with their own connections;
if it is necessary to adapt the data provided by
Navision database, all we have to do is to modify
only the web service, not the entire application.
ERP TRENDS - Mobile Aplications and Portal
The client application installed on PDA devices uses
the previous web services and produces results to the
Public Class frmClientiLista
Private Sub btnListaCustomers_Click(……) Handles
Dim serviciu As New WebReference.Service()
Dim dsClienti As Data.DataSet
dsCustomers = serviciu.getCustomers()
’—and from here the application uses the data set
End Sub
End Class
Figure 3: The final result.
From now, it is very simple for managers to have
access to their company’s data wherever they are. It
is also important to mention that data are available
as they are inserted, deleted or updated by the
“normal” users (the users that populate the database
through the NAVISION desktop applications).
Mobile device improvements, combined with
increasing local and wide area wireless bandwidth,
have opened a new door to additional productivity
enhancements, cost reductions, and user’s
satisfaction increases. Microsoft, one of the most
important players on the mobile ERP market,
powered mobile devices, such as Pocket PCs and
Handheld PCs, offering them at a quarter of the cost
of custom ruggedized mobile devices from just a
few years ago. Utilizing the same development tools
and technologies as the PC, these mobile devices
make it easier and quicker to get ERP solutions into
the hands of the mobile workforce.
The research in the present article does not propose
to present the effective implementation of the portal
functionality, but we consider that it could be
achieved on a web-services type structure on a Java
or .NET platform.
The way companies acquire ERP services in the
future will change radically. Application mobility
surpasses the technology borders, becoming a
paradigm that provides the enterprise with a clear
strategic business advantage: the ability to do
business in real time, in an event driven
environment, and with reduced latency.
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ICEIS 2008 - International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems