A recent Dell KACE survey of 750 IT professionals found that a majority of employees
are using personal devices to log in to corporate systems, yet 87 percent of respondents
also say that their companies are unable to protect corporate resources and data
from being accessed or stored on those devices. More than 60% believe the companies
they work for are not adequately prepared for the flood of personal devices now
entering the workplace.
Mobile devices have taken the world by storm. They have gone from being a disruptive
technology to becoming a way of life to the new generation. What I call the members
of “Gen C” – the “Connected” Generation – will enter the workforce in even greater
numbers over the next few years. In order to remain competitive in today’s rapidly
changing economy, it is therefore critical to look beyond traditional thinking and
recognize that the consumerization of IT will result in a more mobile, efficient
and connected workforce. At the same time, it is equally important to develop a
mobile strategy to protect company resources and data while supporting both external
and internal audiences.
My son and I were recently looking at tablets in an electronics store. I wanted
to compare features, so my son pulled out his smartphone to scan the QR code and
get the information. I needed some clarifications, so I called a salesperson. When
I asked my question, however, the salesperson had to return to his workstation in
order to get the information I needed. This told me that though the store had thought
to enhance the experience for the shopper, it had neglected the needs of its own
employees. I could feel my satisfaction with the store go down. I’m also sure that
the lack of support must be undermining employee satisfaction, as well.
As technology continues to change the landscape of this rapidly evolving, hyper-competitive
economy, it is necessary to consider qualitative benefits as well as the cost/benefit
ratio. We need to look to the future, not just to our needs today. The cost of not
looking forward, combined with a lack of a mobile strategy, is nothing less than
an invitation to be quickly overwhelmed by your competition.
How Do I Take My Company Mobile?
Organizations today are racing to provide a mobile presence. While this has greatly
benefited consumers in many ways, there are numerous risks associated with making
Personally Identifiable Information (PII) available on mobile devices.
According to Dimensional Research senior research analyst Diane Hagglund, who authored
the Dell KACE survey, “Consumerization of IT is not simply a passing trend; it is
the way business will be conducted on an ongoing basis.”
The very first thing any organization needs to do then, even in parallel with developing
or procuring applications, is to ensure that there is a robust mobile strategy in
place. This mobile strategy must look closely at various aspects and operations
of the organization, as well as provide guidance on security and confidentiality
policies in order to reduce liability.
The Mobile Strategy
In devising a robust and full mobile strategy for both external audiences (customers)
and internal audiences (employees), here are four key factors that must be taken
1. Think: Business Questions, Components, App Portfolio
Traditionally, business questions and components refer to IT systems and applications.
Yet in today’s mobile world, organizations must think in terms of a portfolio of
key applications or mobile tasks that both customers and employees will come to
In the banking sector, for example, depositing a check by snapping a picture of
it and performing the transaction through a mobile device not only saves the customer’s
time and trouble but is also a “green” solution that saves fuel, reduces automobile
traffic, and so on.
Checking your financial investments, however, may be more an activity to be performed
over the weekend on a computer.
Looking for a house? Tomorrow’s would-be home owner will expect more than just listings
through a mobile device to determine whether a particular house is affordable. How
about determining the amount of the home’s property taxes, Homeowners Association’s
fee, or the home’s average monthly electric bill?
2. Plan: Management, User Experience
Because of the number of different devices available to consumers and employees
alike, the IT department can no longer control the platforms that market and deploy
apps to its external and internal audiences. As a result, many organizations have
found it most cost-effective to outsource the support of various mobile platforms.
If the company furnishes devices to its employees, who owns these devices? Who is
liable if the device is lost? Is there a capability to remotely wipe the information
from the device in the event of loss or theft?
With regard to security, does the device support industrial-strength encryption?
What happens in the event of a technical “lock-out”? How will re-entry be accomplished?
The user experience must be factored in, too:
Are your web pages usable all around the world? Do the illustrations and language
take into account different cultures and perceptions?
A new factor to take into account is the fact that Gen C “digital natives” represent
a different type of customer with a much shorter attention span. “Instantaneous”
is the new “fast.”
It used to be that web page designers felt constrained to offer web pages that were
easy to navigate and use. They also were convinced that web pages should load in
under 10 seconds or the user would lose interest and go elsewhere. Today, however,
10 seconds is far too long to wait.
3. Build: Architecture Road Map, Build or Buy
After identifying the tasks to be made available to mobile devices, an architecture
road map provides the technical underpinning to the system:
What systems must be enabled for your external and internal devices?
In what order should the tasks be executed in order to provide the best cost-benefit
What apps connectors are necessary?
An equally important decision is whether a company will build, buy, or partner with
someone for these applications. Several cost-of-ownership considerations will guide
this decision, particularly if it’s a new technology.
Perhaps the biggest single factor, though, is time to market (TTM). Unless building
technology solutions is a core competency of the company, more and more firms are
recognizing the wisdom of partnering with IT services and solutions companies.
The reason to see is easy enough.
The speed of the evolution of mobile is reflected in the fact that instead of building,
testing and revising apps over the course of several months, the new model is to
write and bring to market a compelling new app in only a few weeks, then issue additional
capabilities as it builds market share. The resulting upgrades also serve to promote
the app, further supporting its growth in market share.
This argues that there is a real “need for speed” for organizations to tap into
the mobile market immediately in order to stay competitive.
4. Run: Hardware Ownership, Deployment, Provisioning You also need to decide about ongoing support for the apps as well
as the infrastructure:
On what platforms will you standardize and train your workforce?
Will you partner with an outsourcing company that will provide support while the
technology spectrum converges to a limited number of devices?
How will you market each application to its target audience?
What mechanism will you have to gather feedback from consumers in order to refine
future versions to make the apps more productive?
More to Come… Mobile use is already beginning to filter through
all departments and levels of the organization, dramatically transforming the way
business is done. Customers are driving this trend and the technology continues
to evolve at a dizzying rate. Competitive advantage will go to those organizations
that are best able to look beyond the borders of traditional thinking in order to
exploit the potential of mobile in new and often surprising ways. And the need for
speed when devising a mobile strategy is part of the New Normal.
Are you ready to embrace the future? Are you mobile yet?