Rapid technology developments in wireless connectivity and mobile devices marked the beginning of the mobility revolution. Next came the apps renaissance, when intuitive, engaging pieces of software, tailored for smartphones and tablets, began to change our day-to-day lives. The revolution has now reached business. Many organizations today find mobile initiatives popping up in every business unit, in every region and in every department. The floodgates have opened. Now what?
For some, the path forward might begin by pushing existing solutions and processes to mobile channels, without blue-sky thinking of how business might change if location constraints disappeared. For others, disciplined experimentation can reveal compelling scenarios, which can lead to doing traditional things differently, as well as doing fundamentally different things. When left to its own devices, each faction – individual, department or organization – will struggle through the learning process towards its own vision of mobile enlightenment.
In this chaotic environment, CIOs face three challenges. First, they need to build capabilities to deliver intuitive, user-friendly mobile applications that can meet or exceed expectations set by consumer technologies. Mobile delivery requires new skills, new mindsets, new application architectures, new methodologies and new approaches to problem-solving. Above all, solutions must focus on usability – design-led thinking with mobile mentalities. Scope should be reined in to create well-defined, elegant solutions that address explicit problems, not broad collections of functionality. User experiences should be mobile-centric, based on touch/swipe/talk, not point/click/type. Leonardo da Vinci’s description of simplicity as the ultimate form of sophistication might be a foreign concept to many central IT departments today, but it is also a prime directive. As mobile becomes increasingly important in customer and employee interactions, the complexity of applications, or apps, will naturally grow with heightened integration, security and maintenance needs.
The second challenge for CIOs is to help the business deliver innovative applications with significant potential for positive disruption. Experimentation can be a good way to show progress and help crystalize opportunities, but many use cases remain uncharted. Until users interact with an early prototype, they may not know what they want, much less what they need. CIOs can become beacons of big-picture thinking and tactical adjudication by embracing the proliferation of mobile initiatives, and accelerating the mobile adoption learning curve across the organization.
The third challenge is that mobility introduces yet another level of complexity that CIOs must manage and support at an enterprise scale. What’s an effective way to deal with pressure to get behind each “next big thing”? Should employee-owned devices be allowed on enterprise networks? And if so, what data, applications and services should they be permitted to access? How should IT practices change to support mobile applications? True enterprise-class mobility requires governance, security, privacy and compliance policies – with effective management of mobile devices, enterprise app stores, mobile middleware and more. The trick is to build a solid foundational infrastructure without throttling the business. As you likely know, the business can’t – and won’t – wait for a fully formed mobile enablement roadmap to be defined and put into place.
If you have any questions relating to this article, or require a more detailed discussion, contact Kamal Ramsingh (Head of Technology – Deloitte South Africa) at firstname.lastname@example.org
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