It is hard to believe that is has been almost ten years since the iOS v. Android wars started (Business of Apps). We were all still using 3G, “selfies” were not a thing, and using your phone for “work” meant email. Since then, most of us have picked sides and moved on to debate which wearables or IoT devices will be the next craze. There is no doubt that mobile technology has created waves of change in our lives over the last decade. This change has been pervasive for both individuals and enterprises alike; however, not as readily adopted by the latter.
With a focus on usability and engaging user experiences, mobile solutions have organically entered our personal lives and in turn, have made their way into the enterprise as a result. This surge of apps and other productivity tools has led to the consumerization of IT and digital transformation across various industries. The early focus was on mobile productivity applications like email and time management. Since then, it has shifted to further enable business processes and enhance the customer experience. Although mobile technology has become a key component of enterprise business strategies, with 59% of organizations already having implemented mobile technology, only 28% are now in the process of developing business strategies to enable digital transformation capabilities (IDG).
What should organizations focus on?
As organizations continue to evolve and leverage mobile technology, they must recognize the foundational components required to support a successful business strategy. At SEI, we guide our clients to understand which components are critical to achieving their goals and how they fit into their overall approach. Thinking both short and long-term helps organizations make the right decisions to position technology in a way that will support the business in the long run. Infrastructure, Network, Platform preference, and User Interface / Experience must all be taken into consideration, along with the right governance, security, and support structures to ensure optimal user experience and those information assets are not compromised.
A key part of leveraging mobile strategies for business operations both internally and externally is to get a handle on the platform. This necessity has spawned many of today’s Mobile Device Management (MDM) or Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) platforms, which allow organizations to not only control the devices but also what applications and capabilities can be leveraged. Such platforms allow for much more granular control over the devices and how they are used. While security and control are often the primary focus, organizations must be careful not to lose sight of the objective to enable the mobile workforce, so that the solution does not hinder the natural flow of their work processes (Computerworld).
We have helped clients to best leverage EMM platforms to deploy and manage mobile devices/ applications and to ensure that the process of launching a solution is seamless to the end user. This is key from a change management and training perspective as it allows the end user to focus on using and adopting the solution rather than worrying about how the technology works. As an example, we helped a client in the higher education space with a large-scale work process transformation which enabled a significant part of their Facilities workforce to adopt a mobile app for all their business processes; from time entry to the procurement of maintenance supplies. This effort involved complex business processes mapping from highly manual, paper-based processes to leveraging automated workflows with a mobile user interface. This was a large change for users who were not used to carrying around a mobile device to support their normal work activities. Leveraging an EMM platform, application administrators were able to deploy the application, configurations and parameters “like magic”, while allowing them to turn their attention to users and focus on training on the future state business processes. Since end users did not see the complexity associated with the back end and deployment, they were able to more easily build confidence in the solution and how easy it was to get in and use it.
As technology continues to disrupt traditional business models, it is important to consider how it all fits together. Mobility is just one piece of the puzzle, but an important one that must be utilized practically and purposefully to be effective. Mobile apps and devices should be carefully aligned with business processes and outcomes to ensure that they are adding value to the business and organizations are able to realize and measure the added value. To execute a successful digital strategy that includes mobile technology as a core component, it is instrumental for the IT and business organizations to partner together and ensures that the appropriate organizational models are put into place to achieve successful outcomes.
We have seen tremendous success with organizations that put stock in this partnership. In an example of a large scale global deployment, we worked to help the business and IT organizations partner and better align their plans, both on tactical and strategic levels. They were not only able to identify synergies in executing a tactical project plan but also longer-term opportunities based on plans in their technology roadmap. By bringing the right partners to the table, we could identify roadblocks as well as strategic opportunities based on the IT standards and programs that were already in flight to support things like cybersecurity, governance, and support. Ultimately, this will minimize rework and risk, allowing them to build upon a strong foundation for years to come.
As we look to the next ten years, it will be important to build upon the strong capabilities that mobile technology has afforded us. We are more connected and have more access to information and resources than ever before. With the continuing rapid pace of technological change, it is important for organizations to continue to break down barriers and identify connections and ways to leverage technology that will allow us to work smarter and more efficiently together. Enterprises that adopt this mantra will be able to move faster and be more agile to react to industry trends and environmental factors. Now, I do not claim to have a crystal ball, so I will leave you with the words of a wise Marvel superhero – “In times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build walls.”