Enterprise Mobility is not new, it has been around for many years in one form or another. There are plenty of early adopters out there and experienced exponents will tell you that Enterprise Mobility is more than just software and hardware. Enterprise Mobility is a journey undertaken by business to realise the benefits of a mobile workforce.
Enterprise Mobility is about getting efficient use out of your mobile workforce and the technology available to them. People who perform work away from the desktop use information and they collect data. This data is then used back in the organisation as information. So efficient management of the data/information cycle leads to Less Bad and More Good.
Leveraging Enterprise Mobility has the power to remove a lot of waste from an organisation. One example is a beverage company that delivers drinks to its resellers. Their process involved printing the paperwork for the truck run, loading the truck, delivering the goods and handing a carbon copy of the invoice to the customer for signature and taking payment. Now this sounds ok but of course what happens in real life is that sometimes the goods were damaged, or loaded on the truck wrong, or the customer changed their mind, or a 1000 other things went “wrong”. This of course lead to truck drivers getting out their pen and calculator and manually adjusting the invoice. Once back at the depot there would be a reconciliation nightmare both for cash and for inventory. Now replacing this process with a mobile solution that included barcode scanner, a mobile printer, and a secure credit card payment system meant that all allowed adjustments could be made on the spot and the backend system updated automatically.
Enterprise Mobility isn’t just about getting rid of the bad things. It’s about increasing good things. Processes like Field Service and CRM are greatly enhanced by a mobile solution. When Sales Reps or field workers have a plan on a piece of paper they cannot adapt quickly to changes. With a mobile solution information can be shared more easily. Between the different people in the field and with the planners back in the office. Work can be more collaborative, accurate, and timely.
Mobile Challenges - Hype
There is no doubt that there are a lot of statistics around about mobility. In fact around 90% of statistics about Mobility say mobility is fantastic. I’m sure you are all familiar with a variety of quotes about statistics one of my favourites is “There are 2 kinds of statistics, the kind you look up and the kind you make up”. Sometimes statistics are quite useful but I’d keep a watchful eye open and always ask the question what does it mean for my business?
The art form of benefits calculations and business value. It's easy to be swayed by stories of large cost savings or increases in throughput. As an advocate of mobility I believe you can get good business value from mobile initiatives. But you need to do your due diligence. Understand the benefit areas can be wide reaching and include things like reduction in ongoing training and change management. Mobile initiatives can often form the bridgehead for future mobile work and this can be challenging to factor in.
Mobile technology can require learning a new language with a whole set of its own acronyms and terminology. HTML5, MEAP, MDM, MDAP, etc, etc. Adding to the confusion an acronym can mean one thing in the mobile arena and something completely different to another audience. I remember having a conversation with someone awhile back about MDM. They thought I was discussing Master Data Management while I was happily referring to Mobile Device Management. The challenge here is of course: "What's the right solution?"
There is plenty of evidence of rapid change in software and hardware in the mobile arena. Not long ago everyone was using a Nokia, then a Blackberry, now maybe an iPhone or Android device. In a few years who can say Google Glasses or Fujitsu Slates? Change of course is not limited to hardware and software but is most relevant to business process and the way mobile technologies are used.
The Mobile Journey
As with other business change there is beginning to the mobile journey but more often than not no end. Once a new technology and process is introduced new ideas will flourish and the cycle will continue. From steady state to new needs, and requirements.
To stay in business it’s important to consider how funds are spent. Organisations of different sizes and types go through a business case process with more or less rigour. Some organisations may be capital heavy and invest in large equipment or plants. In these cases IT spending may be seen as a small insignificant part of the overall investment plan. For others money spent on IT is core to their DNA. Regardless of the company type there are always competing initiatives for funds. As well as getting a place in the investment hierarchy a business case has a number of benefits:
- Socialises concepts and aligns vision (Needs)
- Sets scope and boundaries (Requirements)
- Defines the costs and benefits (ROI)
- Acts as a reference for future stages of the mobile journey
While a business case for a mobility project can be treated in a similar fashion to any other business case. Here are a few tricks and traps to look out for:
- New technology is not well understood
- Replacing paper processes may have greater benefits than replacing an existing system
- A mobile application could form part of marketing / advertising spend
- Mobility investments often establish the basis of multiple projects
As mentioned in the challenges a lot of Enterprise Mobility relies on new rapidly changing technology. People often ask me why they should invest in product Y when last week product X was the next big thing. This is similar discussion that many people have around choosing a new mobile phone. Should I wait for the next model? This is another reason why that business case is so important. With an understanding of the drivers and benefits areas you can feel confident in making a decision that will archive your business goals. NASA doesn’t pick the latest mobile technology to go into their mars lander programme. They have a list of requirements and the pick the best fit for these requirements within their budget constraints.
Of course there are a number of technical solutions to mobilising an enterprise so if the technology is new to you consider some of the following:
- Industry events (get some insight, network, and talk to experts)
- Similar non-competitive companies (perhaps another geography)
- Web & Social (plenty of people willing to help)
- Existing partner network (your solutions partners may have expertise)
- Research firms (such as Gartner or the newer crowd sourcing alternatives)
- Back end connectivity (ensure your technology integrates)
- In house talents (mobility is an exciting area for many people)
- Platform or point solution (does your case allow for future expansion)
The realisation phase of a mobile journey is where the rubber hits the road. The scope of this phase can vary widely depending on the business case, the product selected, and the implementation approach. Ensure that before too much rubber has hit the road all involved parties agree on the way forward. There maybe a big difference between leveraging an existing cloud solution and a more traditional waterfall driven software project. Regardless of how agile (or not) the project is each will (or should) have a a degree of:
During realisation is of course a key time to be referring back to that business case and most specifically the requirements. Oh and if you're looking for a great result never forget the importance of business and IT change management.
SupportOne of the easiest traps to fall into is to leave support to the end of the journey. It's important that support and supportability requirements are baked into the business case. Supporting mobile applications and hardware has a couple of added complexities that traditional desktop support may not have to contend with:
- Unreliable communications
- Bleeding edge technology
- Frequent change
- Many layered fault determination
If you have considered support up front then hopefully you have a solution that includes tools to empower your users and the support team. Finally a couple of points on the importance of baking Change Management into the entire journey. From an IT sense consider how to handle software/hardware updates and the impact of change to other systems. From a business perspective consider the people, the process, and how mobility changes the game.