The mobile technology space has definitely not lacked in activity. Less than 12-months ago – the world waited with bated breath for the launch of RIM’s PlayBook. Today – we wait with bated breath on the future of the very same organisation. Google buys Motorola, Apple in lawsuits around Android, Nokia loosing global market share and Windows mobile not as pervasive as expected. The tablet market has been just as tumultuous. Apple’s iPad is still the undisputed leader, HP and others offer weak alternatives thus far with probably the most disappointing being RIM’s PlayBook. HP is looking to mimic IBM as a software services firm which could see them exit the PC market.
However, despite this extreme volatility in the technology domain, the battle to connect the unconnected in Africa and other developing countries continues. There is no doubt that the mobile revolution is upon as and that we as leaders will need to respond or at least plan a response in the immediate term. Mobile technologies and the maturing device market present real opportunities to improve business processes, innovate on new products or just simply improve our businesses efficiencies.
With this mind, we thought we’d share a view of the key considerations to be borne in mind when commencing your exciting journey on the path of enterprise mobility.
- Recognise the Stage – This means recognizing that we are at the initial stage of mobility as a key value-add to business. The implications are several. Firstly, this means that expansive projects and investments should be a last resort. It also means that we cannot expect the “typical” enterprise brands to come to our rescue as they are still developing their own license models and specific solutions. We are at early mover stage with the related benefits and risks.
- Accept the power – Like all other points of transformation – know the reason for the pain as the pain will come and you will need to explain the reason! We need to accept and even evangelize the power of mobility. Study upon study reveals the increasing levels of mobility amongst our workforce. Typically administrative “desk jockeys” are spending as much as 20% (and rising) of their lives away from their desk – this is the equivalent of a day a week. This means that business processes that have assumed a static workforce are now broken for at least 20% of the time. Mobility can offer new products or even change the way you interact with your customers. Starbucks allows orders to be placed from the queue – making overall customer experience better as queues move faster. Recognise the power of mobility – the challenge is on how we harness and manage it for our good.
- Scope, Re-scope and De-scope – This is the age old principle of keeping it simple (KISS) – taken to the next level. De-scoping will become the new buzzword for Mobile applications. Mobile applications will work best when they are small and focused. Similarly, make the process scope small and possibly even at the task level and ignore multiple geographies initially. Mobile apps and Enterprise apps are different beasts (see point below) – so too are the related projects. Keep it simple – and focused – for maximum return.
- Invest in learning – Accept that the first 1, 2 or even 3 attempts are investments in learning. There is a need to learn about the technology, validity of the business case assumptions as well as the organization and/or customer’s ability to accept and adopt the changes in a positive manner. The younger the targeted audience, the more readily will these changes be accepted – but – value needs to be provided immediately or it won’t be used again. Delivery models and partnerships may also be tested. All-in-all – the IT shop has to accept that even they need to learn through this!
- Business benefits rule – The discipline of investing for business benefits cannot be ignored, even if the project or scope is limited. This needs to be clearly defined and tested upfront – with the same rigor as would be applied for a larger project.
- Mobile vs Enterprise Apps – Successful mobile applications will be singular in purpose and focused in operation. This differs from an Enterprise application that allows the user to move through multiple aspects of a single business process. Mobile applications are focused on tasks or task elements e.g. record time in a specific week. Most enterprise application functionality has been driven by users with a view to interacting with the application as part of their jobs. Mobile applications will be used “on-the-go” – between meetings, cups of coffee or even traffic light changes!
- Research Ideas – Find out Who has already done What . Not all ideas are in production mode and not all may be applicable to your business problem. However, significant effort is being expended at universities, mobile operators, software OEM’s or even freelance developers. Any Enterprise Mobility effort should include an external research role that finds and reviews innovations from other quarters – including that of your competitors!
- Consumerisation cannot be ignored – This is the phenomenon that could have a very positive or negative impact on mobility. The bring-your-own technology wave will impact the way in which we design and distribute applications, track and protect mobile assets and data as well how we build a business case. The modern knowledge worker will not always forego his/her Macbook in the name of standardization.
- Partner where possible – Extend the project to include customers or even suppliers that may be part of the process you are looking at. This will increase collaboration, reduce costs and possibly enhance the business case. The partnership model should even extend to mobile operators and/or software development houses. It is expected that the majority of the mobile applications will be custom built in the short to medium term. It is not unlikely that aspiring software developers will recognize value in the partnership allowing you to further reduce costs associated with development.
- Cloud is an Enabler – The Cloud is seen as a key means of mitigating the risk associated with application change and configuration management. By placing selected applications onto a private cloud, organizations can make standard functionality available to all users – without having to deal with multiple platforms or data fragmentation challenges. Whilst there will be some device specific elements, this is a definite consideration in any Enterprise Mobility Plan.
Building a response to Enterprise Mobility along these key points will assist with completeness of thinking and provide the focus needed. The readiness of your organisation to accept and capitalise on this trend remains in the hands of the C-Level leadership. Best of luck.
Your comments and feedback is most welcome.