Are Enterprises mobile yet?

by Brian Katz on October 24, 2014 · 2 comments

I spend a lot of time talking about mobility. To be fair, it’s part of my job. Yet, it’s disheartening at times to look around and see that most people don’t get it. They know that enterprises have to do more then hand out mobile devices. They need to have a mobile strategy that is part of their business strategy. If they’ve been listening closely, they understand that the idea of mobility is to enable your users. It’s only when your users are empowered to be more agile and flexible, and become more productive and efficient that you can start looking at them as truly mobile enabled. Yet, as my good friend Bob Egan pointed out to me recently, most companies (he put it at around 90%) aren’t doing much more than email, calendar and contacts.

Are-We-There-YetBob isn’t wrong. There are a lot of companies that have barely scratched the surface of what it means to enable their users, but there are a few that are blazing a trail. They aren’t playing a game of email table stakes but rather they have decided to become leaders. As with any environment, you have your leaders, your fast followers, your followers and your laggards.

What does it take to be a leader in mobility? It starts with understanding your business strategy and figuring out how to use technology to enable achieving it. A technology strategy cannot stand by itself but rather has to meet a business need. The goal is for technology to make a business need easier to achieve.

When we take a look at the app side of mobility, this means building apps (or buying them) so that they help your people get their work done. I like to say it starts with the FUN principle (Focus on the User Needs) but there is a step before that. You have to focus on what your users are doing. They may not always know what they need but all of their work fits into processes and workflows. Technology’s job is to speed up and enhance those workflows so they are performed faster and more efficiently. It’s taking a process that is completely based upon paper and then entering the data in the computer and reducing the steps, where the data is entered into the computer as it is initially recorded. It is replacing paper maps and static routes with GPS and algorithms that take traffic into account. It’s when the line worker is using enhanced eyewear for augmented reality to see the layout of a junction box instead of grabbing a stack of blueprints. These are examples where technology enhances workflows by enhancing/augmenting the user experience.

Apps are given to people to streamline those workflows and tasks and allow them to be accomplished when and where they need to be done. The workflows are performed to meet business requirements and the users in the end know the pieces that have to be done. Following the FUN principle while providing an awesome and secure user experience is what drives firms to become leaders.

It starts with one app, the insurance company that can use a smartphone to adjust a claim in minutes rather than hours and days. The sales employee at the hardware superstore that can look up inventory while they’re talking to you in seconds instead of finding an empty terminal, logging in and taking forever while customers line up for help. That first app is just the start, you’ve moved beyond basic email capabilities but you can’t just stop there. Your employees have devices now and all the workflows and processes need to be looked at, everything from automatic time cards, to indoor mapping, doing inventory to hotel check-in. Everything that they do is fair game. Let the employees participate. Once they get a taste of what one app can do they will start suggesting others that will remove the complications from their work. They want to make their job just as efficient as you do; it gives them more time to get things done.

Once you’ve identified the workflows, you look for a public app that meets your needs, why build something that already exists. If you can’t find one you have to look at building it yourself (or contracting it out). You start the build by following the four pillars of app development and you feed the business requirements in. You have the users test those apps for you and suggest improvements. You move into a cycle where constant improvement isn’t just a phrase but part of the culture.

In the end, enterprise mobility isn’t about email or even rolling out a few apps. It’s about creating a culture of design thinking that is pervasive throughout your organization and leads to constant workflow and processes improvement. Everybody is focused on enablement, from the boardroom to the front lines and embraces mobility as one of their change agents.

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