What really floats the mobility boat?



The proliferation of smart phones and other mobile devices have provided IT executives with many interesting opportunities for innovation. However, let’s ask ourselves how many of these mobility initiatives are truly architected to advocate people empowerment rather than technology prowess?

When it comes to mobility, many organizations often set out building plans based on two main notions –a fully technology driven plan that ports all regular services to be available via mobile devices; and setting governance rules based on existing IT models that they currently follow within the enterprise. Both approaches are not likely to deliver value on the long term.

While it may work well on premise, in a mobile world, this in fact leads to a large proliferation of services without simplification; quantity rather than quality and ultimately turns into a case of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole! Therefore, what really needs to underpin mobility strategies across organizations today is people management rather than device orientation.

Before organizations embark on an enterprise wide mobility initiative, there are four key pillars that I believe are critical to the plan – Freedom, Empowerment, Measurement and Trust. If your strategy can skillfully meet these four objectives, then it’s probably on the right road to deliver business value. Let’s look at each aspect more closely.

  1. It’s all about freedom of movement

At its core, the very nature of mobility is about enabling fluidity. This means that the strategies, devices and supporting systems all need to drift seamlessly across departments and touch people wherever they are. The challenge however, is that many of our existing IT systems and policies, are often architected with the assumption that those accessing these services are likely to do so in close proximity to the systems or terminal points themselves. That’s completely the opposite of what happens in a mobile environment.

Mobility essentially needs to free the movement of people, policies, systems and of course data. So, ensure that you benchmark your mobility plans against this requirement.

  1. Read-Only no longer cuts it – empower fully

Making services or applications mobile is not about making just information available on mobile devices. True mobility means being fully transactional in nature and applications or services need to track back and integrate with the core systems. Users of these services via their devices should have access to real-time information that changes based on the transactions being executed, on the go.

This is critical. Because only then, can mobility deliver employee empowerment, process efficiency and productivity from the field. Sit down to review how this is currently being achieved in your environment. If it’s just non-transactional information you are putting out there, it means you need a serious strategy review.

  1. Measurement is everything

One of the most important value drivers with mobility is the ability to be able to track, measure and manage data that is generated via mobile transactions. Link that data to the business you are in. Apply analytics to this specific data and work with intelligence teams to understand what it’s showing you about your business and the market. Besides employee performance KPIs, look at what its telling you about field operations or customer behavior. This is an area where mobile applications tied in with social channels can be most useful.

  1. Offer trust and gain performance

Mobility strategies need to be built on a foundation of trust. An effective model structures every aspect of it to engage executives with their responsibilities, offering freedom and gaining performance in return.

Don’t stop at that. Expand your thinking to look at what other processes can be layered on employee devices when on the go - even if those applications are related to tasks that they normally would do when at their desk. Ask your technology teams if they can port these specific role-based applications to be fully transactional via mobile devices and help people become more productive and save time.

For mobility to deliver true value, we need to get to work on two aspects – fully believing that the concept of mobility is bigger than the device; and re-architecting your overall IT structures to meet its needs and not vice versa.

In conclusion, what I’m really emphasizing here, is to make people empowerment the crux of mobility initiatives rather than the technologies that make it work. By investing in understanding the people capabilities available in your environment, enterprises certainly stand to benefit from having created more responsible and efficient employees.

This article was first published as a guest column in the Gulf News. The writer is the Technology Editor and ROI Strategist at Dubai-based CXO Strategies. She can be contacted via twitter @CXOConnectME

 

Kavitha Rajasekhar