Mobile has had the most powerful impact on business plans in the last five years than any other technology suite, including cloud. Business leaders must embrace mobile. You don’t get to choose to play or not. Mobile is a core underpinning in the evolution of business in the way people work, play, influence each other and how we transact for goods and services. The importance of this transition cannot be underscored, more importantly in the face of millennials overtaking baby boomers as the biggest demographic of consumers.
The transition to mobilizing your business is both complex and opportunistic. But while being future ready is a commitment to mobility, it is just not about building mobile apps for smartphones and tablets. Building mobile apps is the easy part. Successful enterprises will think beyond the app.
To prepare your organization to be future ready with mobile, it requires organizations to understand their people (readiness), their process (value of change) and their product (enabling infrastructure). Let’s explore these in more detail.
People readinessWe talk a lot about how to mobilize our workforce, but the disturbing truth is we, as enterprise leaders, hold on to our desktop behaviors—and beliefs—way too much. The issues range from not understanding our employee, customer and partners desire, willingness and capability to change, to inappropriately placing the responsibility for driving change squarely on IT. Mobilizing our enterprise is a top-down business decision, not an IT decision.
Irrespective of where, how and when we build mobile solutions, it is imperative that we design them in such a way that people not only adopt these solutions, but reach to use these solutions first. That is what success looks like for Facebook, Starbucks, Uber and even what many travel and airline mobile apps have been able to achieve.
But not everyone in your enterprise may be ready to make this leap. Ask yourself the following questions: What are the prevalent mobile use patterns in your workforce, customer and partner channels? What group(s) of people reach for a smartphone or tablet to do something first? Why? How is that changing? Who doesn’t and why? What are their fears? What would they like to do using a mobile device and why? What is the value of these changes to your business?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, canvas your employee base and get the data before you start, or risk certain failure.
“It is imperative that we design mobile solutions in such a way that people not only adopt these solutions, but reach to use these solutions first.”
ProcessWe need to design a process flow around people and outcomes, not devices. Keep in mind people that people will – and should – use a mix desktop/laptop, tablet and smartphones daily for specific trade-offs in computing power, screen real estate and their personal mobility.
In a ready organization, it is compelling for business leaders to evaluate not only what existing processes can be made better, but also what new ways business can be done because of mobilization. These are key tenants within a future ready organization.
When we think about mobilizing a business, it may be prudent for organizations to think about building mobile solutions in two ways: those that are “mobile only” and those that are “mobile also.” Let us take a look at each of these in more detail.
Mobile only: Organizations should be on the lookout for what processes should move off the desktop completely. For example, if a portion of the workforce spends the majority of its time in front of customers, you might ask yourself if it makes sense to support a desktop environment at all. I’m thinking nurses, electricians, plumbers, retail associates, hotel lobby personal, airport and flight personnel, financial planners, real estate agents – the opportunities are infinite.
Mobile also: Customer relationship and management (CRM) and sales force automation (SFA) solutions are often good candidates in this category. Travel planning, conference call and webinar solutions, expense management, IT management, disaster recovery and, of course, email are other great matches.
The key to being successful is to understand the impact against two metrics: the value to your business and employees and their willingness to adopt. It is important to extend and enhance the user experience in the context of their personal mobility, irrespective of what device or OS (operating system) ecosystem is being employed.
ProductCIOs who display leadership in future readiness thinking see their IT technology and solutions portfolios as product suites. In the case of mobile, they think beyond the app. Their principle focus is about infrastructure readiness and evolution.
These forward-looking CIOs are coming to grips with the fact that mobile isn't just the new desktop. Mobile is driving the traditional functions of IT beyond today’s firewalled architectures. The use of cloud, software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and mobile, which exposes a plethora of new application programming interfaces (APIs) both internally and externally, makes it so. These evolutions challenge perimeter-based defenses beyond what an enterprise can control, monitor or even remediate when (not if) a problem occurs.
This evolution is answering the demand for creating consumer-like experiences at work. Existing back-office application environments and infrastructure solutions need to be evaluated for scale and agility. Non-enterprise app stores are establishing consumer expectations about we want to discover and get solutions at work. Ease of use, timeliness, and hidden infrastructure are the norms in the consumer world. A future-ready enterprise will embrace those expectations.
Some organizations that I have worked with separate the presentation layers and content designs within their mobile initiatives from their back-office architectural interface counterparts. This modularizing allows IT, InfoSec and compliance groups to certify and support the technical integrity of the mobile solutions and how they integrate into the back office. Non-technical staff in areas like marketing and human resources (HR) are then empowered to configure the needed functionality without IT getting in the way.
The key is to take a fresh look at your existing infrastructure for scalability and agility with an eye about ways to extend, enhance and evolve how you do and what you do. Key areas to look at include network, applications, compliance, InfoSec, disaster recovery, IT management and support.