enterprise mobility strategyOver the past 18 months, we were invited by a number of our customers to join their enterprise mobility strategy discussions and workshops. While we observed several different approaches, we saw that there were really two distinct camps – two ways of tackling this challenge, one of which was far more successful than the other.

On the one side, some companies involved the “business” in their initial discussions about mobility. These customers are now at a phase where they are crosschecking their thinking and work with us to identify any areas for improvement.

On the other side of the great divide, we saw companies that restricted their mobility activities to the IT department. The discussion focused on technology rather than on use cases. And ownership was either not defined or not commonly agreed upon.

It sounds deceptively simple but the key to success lies in tackling the challenge from a business point of view. A successful enterprise mobility strategy must go beyond selecting smartphones and apps. It needs to be broader than planning for a platform or a device management system. And it is far more than a BYOD concept. Companies that understand that technology and products are not the strategy, but simply tools used to execute it, are further ahead.

In working with customers, we saw that users were more satisfied when they were involved early on. We also observed that the “business first” approach helped to keep technology infrastructure costs in check. While proof of concepts and pilots can help a company gauge a technology’s potential, the real test of any technology is whether or not it adds business value.

How can you make sure your mobile strategy is on the winning side of the divide? The following steps can help ensure your enterprise mobility strategy puts your “business” before technology:

  • Identify the potential use cases that are of interest for your company. The use cases should have a rather broad scope to avoid missed opportunities. Use elements of Design Thinking and other methodologies to help identify use cases with the highest ROI or strategic value.
  • Choose an architecture based on a strategy that supports your use cases. You also need to think about the technology solutions that are available today and those that will be available in the future – which requires a best guess extrapolation into the only partly known. We faced a similar challenge 10 – 20 years ago related to the growth of the Internet and networked systems; I still remember lengthy discussions about middleware layers and platforms, solutions that today nobody questions. A similar debate about mobility architecture is happening now. But no doubt, a platform approach offers the required flexibility, scalability, and can evolve over time.
  • Think about transformation – in business and IT operations, as well as risk and security. How might these changes affect your mobility strategy?

Before moving forward with an app, prioritize your investment, by considering the following:

  • Complete a use case identification exercise to help define an app roadmap for your specific industry and business. Areas that overall seem to be suitable are sales, services and maintenance processes, and business analysis, reporting, and scorecards.
  • Ensure the app aligns with your business requirements and adds value. The business value can be an economical value derived from a business case, strategic aspects that are in alignment with the business strategy, or risk and security considerations that improve the risk and compliance profile of the company.
  • Consider feasibility and implementation. When considering the feasibility of an app think about cost, risks, usability questions, and the timeframe for implementation.
  • Start with what we call “low-hanging fruit.” These are very often standard workflow apps, which are easy to implement and provide an immediate incremental benefit. Workflow apps will generally not be transformational for your business, but they allow you to get experience with the topic first-hand.
  • For more complex apps, give priority to those that provide considerable business value and at the same time are still feasible to develop or implement. When thinking about complexity, consider interfacing to your back-end systems, doing bespoke development, and changing business processes.

Today a company should not ask the question “if” enterprise mobility is a relevant topic for them, but “how” they want to start the journey and what opportunities it provides. Enterprise mobility can improve business processes, help create new business models, and be one of the cornerstones of real-time business as it connects the “anytime” to the “everywhere”.

Watch for the next article in the mobility minute series that will tackle strategy from IT’s perspective.