How I learnt to embrace a mobile strategy Part 2

by Brian Katz on March 8, 2012 · 0 comments

In part one (go read this first) we talked about why a mobile strategy was important and what the basic tenet of a mobile strategy is. In part 2 we will talk a little bit about how to achieve it. first let’s just do a basic refresher: the basic tenet of any successful mobile strategy is to give your users the information that they need, whenever they need it and no matter where they are, along with the ability to manipulate that information in order to get their task/job done. The rest of your strategy just spells out how you are going to do this.

Once an organization has reached this point in creating their strategy they should realize that in order to stay competitive, their data is crucial. So technically they need to figure out how to secure the data, both at rest in transit. Their employees have already started to find ways to move the data around to make it easier for them to use. They have resorted to emailing the data to themselves, putting it in Dropbox or box.com or just putting it on a USB stick so they can use it at their convenience. Your job is not to turn the fire hose off but to make sure that the stream of data coming out of it is secure. There are numerous ways to do this through encryption and other means but it is the first step. The second step once they have figured out how to protect their data is to make that data available so that it can be used appropriately. You know the data is important so how do you let people get at it. The best way to do this is to look at building APIs which allow access to your data in a programmatic way. Instead of writing applications that must jump through hoops to access a data repository or feed and everything is hardcoded, you use an API to make the data available and the write the app to take advantage of that API. Doing it this way you avoid the pain of recoding the entire app to access one more piece of relevant data. This allows you to be agile as you move forward.

Now that you have secured your data, and made it available at the same time you get to the final pillar, allowing the users that need it to access that information and manipulate it in appropriate ways to get their job done. You do that by writing an app. What is important when you write that app is that you focus on what the user is trying to do. You spend time with the user looking at how they use the data, what manipulations they are doing to the data and you focus on hitting the main ones they actually use all the time.  They use the same 25 features of Word (if they use that many) not the 625 that exist in the entire desktop product. Focus on what they actually do and design your app to allow them to manipulate the data this way. Avoid the scope creep that invariably seeps in because you’re sure they will want just one more thing, as this will lead to you creating a crapplication that is only useful 10% of the time. Instead use that focused study of what the user does to create the simple apps that your users have come to depend upon when they use their devices at home.

Once you have actually implemented this strategy the device on which your user wants to use the app you created doesn’t really matter. They are getting an app that they can use with secure corporate data without having to worry about what else is on their device and what it is. Now to be fair, not all devices are capable of this today (there are still some basic functions that a device needs), but they are rapidly getting there, especially with the help of companies that are doing mobile information management (MIM).

In the end, BYOD doesn’t matter, whether you bring your own device or your company pays for it, the Consumerization of IT will eventually enable all devices through the creation of a good mobile strategy.

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