Mobility has sent ripples across organizations by means of consumerization of IT and the “bring your own” device phenomena. Several discussions focus on the effects of Enterprise mobility on IT teams directly, but in reality the impact is much broader. The proliferation of mobile devices throughout the Enterprise has forced companies to re-think their structure entirely, redefining roles and responsibilities, and fostering a “mobile-first” culture shift.

Changing Structure

Traditionally, IT has functioned as a hierarchical structure being the sole owner of applications, networks, and infrastructure for the entire organization. This group was the primary decision-maker for application development, deployment, support/help desk, network/infrastructure maintenance, and security policies for company-owned laptops and desktops. With the increasing adoption of mobile devices amongst employees, the need for access to enterprise data via a mobile device has become a necessity. Furthermore, these mobile devices could be company owned (COPE) or employee owned (BYOD). This has thrown IT teams for a loop – unlike the desktop/laptop paradigm, they are having to develop and maintain mobile apps and infrastructure that will serve a variety of hardware (devices, screen resolutions), software (OS, 3rd party apps) and environments (home or office). Further, IT must also re-think application architecture, integration, security, deployment, identity management, and infrastructure, all while making sure the right level of management and governance structure is being put in place.

While this is no easy endeavor, it provides an opportunity for the organization to reconsider business and IT alignment. To better understand the needs of the business users, IT will have to break out of the existing silos and partner with those users. A flat organization structure will allow teams to understand (a) what information is needed, (b) how this information is being used, and (c) how to deliver the information to the appropriate audience. This collaborative effort amongst cross-functional teams will increase the organization’s agility.

Changing Roles

No role in the organization has changed as drastically as that of the CIO. This is evident based on a recent survey by Accenture where 68% of executives didn’t have a clear vision of what the IT function would look like in 2016, and a staggering 73% of them didn’t have a clear vision of the role of the CIO. This is due in-part to the constantly changing mobile landscape, making it a challenge to craft long-term strategic goals. CIOs, in this rapidly changing technological landscape, are faced with a major shift – going from being an operational-focused support team to driving key business initiatives. The days of IT’s role as a cost function are long gone.  Successful IT teams need to evolve into a differentiator role. No longer a mere standalone function, they will be expected to become more integrated with the business.

Apart from changes in IT, mobile has shaken things up on the business side as well. Organizations are having to re-think traditional processes put in place decades ago. In some instances mobility has disrupted entire business models. In order to be competitive, companies need to update these processes and procedures. Furthermore, this change will also help organizations enable employees to be more efficient and productive.

Ultimately, the role of IT and business leaders has changed dramatically. A successful transition into these roles and responsibilities will help IT and business teams streamline decisions and provide solutions that help them underscore the business priorities and identify an organization’s competitive edge.

Changing Culture

The successful adoption of mobility in an organization is more than just implementing technology. It involves understanding the needs of the employees and crafting policies, processes, and governance models around Enterprise mobility that will transform how the organization conducts its core business activities. The CIO has a crucial role to play in the adoption and nurturing of this culture around mobility.

Employees bringing smartphones into the Enterprise expect to be able to do more than just check their email—they want access to applications, document repositories, and Enterprise data necessary to be productive. These growing needs are putting an excessive burden on IT as they fit into their new role. As IT works towards these needs, they shouldn’t lose sight of two key criteria for successful adoption—security and user experience. Organizations will need to walk a fine line as they consider how they might best meet these needs. Inadequate security can lead to disastrous outcomes. The last thing an organization needs is an employee walking out with confidential data on an unsecured personal phone. On the flip side, the lack of a good user experience can lead to minimal user adoption, leaving the app to gather dust on the app store shelf.

Over the next few years, companies as we know them will continue to transform themselves. But this transformation will require IT and business teams to work together in cross-functional teams, evolve into their new roles, and cultivate an environment that takes full advantage of mobile innovation.