The number-one question clients ask Gartner research director Michael Disabato is, “Which enterprise mobility management solution should I buy?” He always responds, “Do you have a mobile strategy?” Most say “No,” but that, says Disabato, is where the conversation should start.
“Mobility isn’t a technology problem,” Disabato told attendees at the Gartner Catalyst conference in San Diego. “We have enough technology. We just need to know how to use it.” That sounds simple, but succeeding at it? That’s a struggle all organizations face. (Not that this is a new issue: In Peopleware, published in 1987, Lister and DeMarco wrote, “Almost all project failures are due to sociological problems, yet managers spend most of their time on technological issues because those are the issues they were trained to handle.”)
So how do we cope with enterprise mobility? The first step, according to Disabato, is discovering how to incorporate mobility into the organization’s business strategy and processes. Look for ways that mobile technologies can help to create new business opportunities, improve customer interactions, or — ideally and — extend existing business processes.
For instance, today, banks commonly use mobile technologies to improve one of their most basic transactions: depositing physical checks. This simplifies the customer experience by alleviating time and complication (Disabato asks, “How many times in the last year have you driven to the bank in order to deposit a check?”), and by freeing up bank personnel for more complicated in-person transactions.
The key to getting to this point, Disabato says, is creating a mobile strategy, with the aim of integrating mobility into the tool portfolio and employing it for maximum impact. The end goal is to create something that is repeatable and scalable; uses well known technologies; and includes management tools. This process isn’t easy, and it involves a lot of research. Advises Disabato, “Let the ‘three S’s guide you: Whatever you do in mobility, make it secure, scalable, and supportable.”
“If mobile changes everything,” says Disabato, “then start by reexamining everything.” This includes basic questions, such as:
- Who are your customers and where are they?
- What do your customers want? and
- When do they do business?
The answers help you guide the mobile strategy and identify where mobile technologies can make a difference. This could be a mobile banking app to deposit checks. Or it could be an auto insurance app that lets policyholders report accident information on the spot, alleviating the need for an adjustor to come to the accident site.
Developing a mobile strategy is not something that IT can do in a vacuum, nor should it try. Disabato recommends establishing a “mobile center of excellence,” a cross-functional team between the business and IT sides of the organization. And go further: Because mobile technologies touch all aspects of organizations, representatives of legal departments and human relations should also be sitting at the table. This group focuses on solving business challenges and is charged with setting mobile standards within the organization. And like any governing body, it also is responsible for setting resource prioritization and success metrics. Those should include both hard business metrics as well as also softer data, like, “Are employees happier?”
As the mobile center of excellence assesses the organization through a mobile lens, much of the strategy development will be specific to the organization. But Disabato also has some basic tips to guide organizational thinking:
Embrace the shadow. Organizations need to recognize that users are going around IT for a reason. Don’t just dismiss this or try to lock down users. Instead, understand what it is that they’re doing and why they’re doing it; and then make it secure, scalable, and supportable.
Go from “No” to “How do we do that securely?” If something makes sense from a business perspective — such as banks letting users deposit checks from their smartphones — determine how to make it work. The role of mobile is to improve existing interactions or to provide disruptive innovation. Embrace these opportunities — and then make the answer secure, scalable, and supportable.
Forget about “one size fits all.” Take a look at mobility holistically across the entire organization and identify that right places to use the mobility tool in your toolkit. Recognize that some roles within your organization may merit more or less leniency than others, and adopt a role-based security posture to accommodate this.
This also applies to data, as organizations generate increasing amount of data. The Internet of Things compounds this further. Consider the data itself and its source in determining retention policies, security, and other data management aspects.
Address the blurred lines. Devices like smartphones are where we sort out the chaos of our business and our personal lives. This means the line between the two is increasingly hard to see. While you need to address BYOD officially, recognize your employees are doing it anyway. Things like full remote wipes of devices can’t be employed willy-nilly; you may end up wiping out the only photos of a family event. Establish privacy guidelines that address how employee personal data is handled, as well as how your eDiscovery policies are going to address personal devices.
Focus on short term planning. Throw out those 5-year strategic plans. The velocity of mobile change exceeds everything else. It’s hard to keep up as-is, so a relevant strategy plan addresses just one year, two years at most. Review your strategy and all related policies each year, and assess what’s working and what needs to change.
Ultimately, mobile is a complicated beast that is going to push organizations forward at a speed that may be uncomfortable, says Disabato. Organizations can move from a defensive posture to one of offensive strength by looking openly at the opportunities it might bring, and by putting measures in place to use technology where it moves the business forward.