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According to two recent surveys by Accenture Research, history is indeed repeating itself. Mobile devices have made the transition from being a secondary device to being a primary device; hence they have become a platform unto themselves, whether the enterprise supplies them or employees can use their own on a “bring your own device” (BYOD) basis. They bring an astonishing number of capabilities, but companies are still in the early phase of developing their mobility strategies. While they scramble to develop their mobile strategies, they must balance a variety of issues.
These issues include the monetization of applications; accommodating the divergent needs of employees, customers, prospects, partners, and suppliers; addressing the increasing fragmentation of the mobile device market, with tablets joining smartphones and complicating development issues for Operating System (OS)-specific or browser-based applications. As always, too, questions regarding security and connectivity loom over any remote access strategy.
If the intense popularity of and focus on all things mobile – smartphones, tablets, connected devices, and mobile applications – seems familiar, it’s because the 1990s Internet mania is repeating itself. Think about it – suddenly a new technology swept in, threatening and promising to change the way people worked. It became an instant priority for IT, but its multiple facets weren’t so easily mastered.
Companies spent money creating web sites akin to “brochureware,” while savvier companies realized that, with some careful back-end investment, the Internet could not only offer data access to employees, partners, and suppliers, but also represented an unprecedented transactional opportunity. The latter companies often thrived while the others floundered.
In January 2012, Accenture conducted an online survey with 240 IT professionals (directors of IT, CIOs, CTOs, Directors of Technologies and Chief Mobility Officers) across 23 industries in 12 countries: Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States. Half work for companies that generate between USD$500 million and USD$1 billion in annual revenues; the other half between USD$1 billion and USD$5 billion. The January research also included an online survey of nearly 4,000 mobility application developers based in Africa, Asia/Pacific, Europe, and North America, who create applications, products and services for employees and enterprises, as well as consumers.
In essence, CIOs must embark on a three-step process to hone their strategy.
Step one: Discovery. Identify current projects as well as future goals; keep in mind that business units may be tackling applications on their own.
Step two: Acceleration. Having identified the projects you want to pursue and the underlying technologies, promote acceleration by standardizing your efforts as much as possible. Use common code – aka an “application factory” – for basic elements spanning people, process, and tools. These help reduce overlap and increase developer efficiency. Establishing common interface elements for employees will also help reduce training time and increase productivity.
Step three: Innovation. Once you’ve created a strong foundation for internal progress, you can start looking at other capabilities to help make your mobile applications even more of a competitive advantage. How can you target those key areas and create even better tools for helping to reduce sales cycles or gathering customer insights at the moment they’re making purchase decisions? Those kinds of insights are closer to reality than ever before, but only if you understand your strategic goals.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you’re still aiming at a moving target. Remember Internet time? You’re now living on mobile time. Devices continue to evolve, as do application development tools. Just as you had to do in Internet time, you must focus on what aspects of mobility serve your business requirements most, and recalibrate them periodically. While you can easily refresh some strategies every year or two, for the time being, you must reconsider your mobile strategy as often as every six to 12 months to verify that you’re still placing your bets on the right trends.
April 25, 2012
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