Mobile Next?

by Brian Katz on March 28, 2013 · 1 comment

So you bought your new smartphone, you picked up a tablet, now what? Lots of people are talking about what the next big thing is. It isn’t just in mobile either. People are asking the same question about Big Data, Cloud, and Networking. Theories abound everywhere you look on what’s next and where everything is going and all you’re trying to do is figure out your next purchase and how to make your life a little easier at work.

The issue with trying to figure out what’s next is few organizations actually know where they are or where they’re going with technology. They keep chasing buzzwords and building strategies around them. Chances are you can open up a Computerworld or CIO magazine and you will see all sorts of stories about creating a mobile strategy, a cloud strategy, networking/SDN Strategy (yes Software Defined Networks is the next “big thing” in networking) or most certainly a big data strategy. Heck, I participated in a conversation today where the first question asked was what sort of analytics should you be running against your big data. Having all these strategies is very nice, but to be truthful, they’re completely worthless. You don’t need any of them. What you need is a business strategy. You fit all of these other pieces into your business strategy.

You see, your business strategy should be about how you create value for the company. It may be acquiring new customers; it may be selling more to your current customers or reaching them faster. You may have one overarching business strategy and then more specific ones for different business units because they do different things. It all comes down to creating value. Technology is just a way for you to achieve or increase that value faster. Different technologies will fit in different ways and if you want to build technology strategies that’s fine, but build them so they fit the business strategy.

If we take a look at mobile, we have to figure out the best way to bring that business value out. It’s not a question of what’s next for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or COPE (Corporate Owned Personally Enabled). Although many people don’t like to admit it, those are focused around ownership. The real question is what’s next for mobile. We’ve spent the last 14 years dealing with putting email, calendar, and contacts on devices. It started with the blackberry and eventually mushroomed with the iPhone, and then Android OSes. As we move forward, those aren’t even table stakes anymore. The value of people being able to respond to email anytime and anywhere is easy to figure out. The real question is how do you enable your users and your customers. It’s no longer a question of whether or not they have a mobile device, it’s just a question of whether they can use it to do their jobs better. When your goal is enable your user to become more flexible and agile, in the process of becoming more productive and efficient, you aren’t talking about just email anymore.

You start to focus on what your users are actually doing. What are their needs? I refer to it as the FUN principle, Focus on the User Needs. You start with the business requirements. Look at the current business processes and figure out where mobile can play to make them easier and more efficient. Is it more efficient to be able to enter the clinical data into the computer while talking to the patient or is it better to use a clipboard and enter the information into a PC later. Does it make sense for your pilots to be carrying around 20 pounds of manuals when they can carry a 1.4 pound device that has all the same manuals and can be updated dynamically. Should your construction workers be able to use augmented reality to see where the wire and conduits in a building are or should they carry around a role of blueprints they have to unroll at every floor.

The future of mobile (and really every other technology) is the ability to make it part of your current business ecosystem. Your goal is to give your users and customers the best tools that you can. You build apps for those devices and then they become the tools of the trade. It’s great that you have a tip calculator app on your smart device but if you can’t do your expenses when you spend work’s money, how did you provide a tool? When the mix of devices and apps provide the tools for secure access to the corporate ecosystem you know you have succeeded. When your users can do that conference call from wherever they are, watching the presentation on their tablet, take a picture of that receipt and submit it, enter the clinical data as soon as they receive it patient side or any other process that is part of your business, you know you have found the next thing.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

dave January 22, 2014 at 11:34 am

Brian, you made similar points in this article and in your IW article (below). I’ve shared these posts with my colleagues and the simplicity of your message to “focus on user needs” was lost by several of them because of how you raced past the alignment of business mission to business strategy to technology/plaform (e.g., mobile) strategies.

Business strategy is derived from the mission of your business. For some it’s about profit. For others it’s about serving something greater than yourself. See USAA’s mission as an example of this.

Once you have your company vision, mission and strategy, you can then look at how various capabilties (i.e., people, processes and technology) can support your goals/objectives/targets.

This progression of thought is missing from your otherwise well-written piece. Thanks for sharing your thoughts . . .keep keeping your readers sharp!

“You see, your business strategy should be about how you create value for the company. It may be acquiring new customers; it may be selling more to your current customers or reaching them faster.”

“It’s time we stopped building mobile strategies in a vacuum. The strategy of your company is quite simply to do whatever it is your company does — better, faster, and more efficiently, so you can make more profit this year than last year. This is your business strategy. Everything else is built around it, including your mobile strategy.”

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