We spoke with Phil Jordan, Group CIO of Telefónica to get his take on the shifts in computing platforms in the enterprise. What do IT Directors need to think about to keep users skilled on the latest mobile technology?
ME Mobile Enterprise:What aspects of the mobile enterprise and the underlying technology are most difficult to stay up to speed on?
PJ Phil Jordan: Generally speaking, enterprise IT continues to be relatively slow to change and has a history of legacy systems which aren’t keeping up with how people are using technology in the real world.
Increasingly those in the workforce and uniformly in those just joining it, people use social, mobile and cloud based consumer technology on their smartphones and tablets constantly outside work, so they are personally keeping up with some of the latest trends.
The apps world we now live in has transformed the user interface to one that is very intuitive and easy to learn. Contrast this to a typical legacy application of the past where you have to spend some time learning how to interact with it.
When we look at taking on new systems in the past, training and adoption were among the hardest things to get right. The challenge for enterprises today is proving applications and an interaction that is fit for a purpose in this digital age, rather than keeping skills up to date.
The users are actually ahead of us and rather than spending time training them on how to use the old systems of record in a company, businesses should be putting all their energy into transforming and creating the systems of engagement of the future.
This is what both your customers and staff are demanding.
ME: Are most workers eager to stay on the cutting edge of mobile technology?
PJ: The pace of change and the culture of adoption of new mobile and underlying technologies varies by company, industry, sector, country and region. Even within a company, the appetite for change and technology varies by job function.
The eagerness for cutting-edge technology comes from seeing and experiencing it. In my experience, the most cutting-edge demand comes from the customer channels, where the interaction is with others and the “outside world.”
The eagerness is not necessarily for cutting edge, but for constant improvement and evolution, and a perfect place to show your business that you are using technology to constantly improve your customer experience.
ME: When it comes to training, what methods are best for learning about mobile technology?
PJ: Learning is being transformed in the digital and information age, and I believe it’s imperative to get your employees collaborating and learning from each other. I see some trends that are making this much easier.
I’ve never been a fan of central knowledge management systems that require employees to publish their knowledge and experiences, and enterprises to capture a skills inventory. I think that’s too static — too one dimensional, and is not at all aligned to the way people and communities behave. The revolution in social networking has shown that communities of interest form really easily, and they stay focused on their primary purpose, which is to share knowledge.
To give you an example of how this can enhance learning within an enterprise, we introduced a concept of “Gurus” into our retail stores in some of our European markets with a core purpose to answer any customer questions and provide enhanced support as a value proposition.
Staff was well trained initially, and the only internal tools we gave them was the Microsoft Collaboration tool, Yammer.
We left it to them to self organize. Within days and weeks, this became the place where they all interacted, shared hints and tips, common problems — and where they went to have a question answered.
ME: Do you think it’s better for IT to pick a favorite device and OS, or is it better to stay agnostic and keep a wider skill set in house?
PJ: This is an increasingly open and connected world where the edges are blurred between work and home. Each company is different. But it’s increasingly unlikely that one device and OS can be picked and mandated in the enterprise.
My advice is to build BYOD capabilities that can be reused. Encourage openness,and match the skills and support to a broad set of platforms rather than specializing in one.
By the way, BYOD is a critical enabler today but keep an eye out for future developments.
I can easily imagine a reverse BYOD trend eventually, where instead of waiting for employees to come in with their own devices, the capabilities around complete persona management on a single device gives the CIO back the ability to provide the latest consumer smartphone and segment the lives of a user securely and discretely — one to watch.
ME: How can you ensure people think and talk about the business value of mobile technology?
PJ: CIOs have for years faced the challenge of engaging in a value-based conversation about IT, rather than focusing on technology or cost.
This problem becomes more acute with the advent of the digital economy and a growing awareness in business leadership to the importance of IT for future differentiation and business success.
The key is to establish a line of sight between the technology and the business outcome that needs to be achieved. IT directors need to continuously remind their direct staff, who are mostly from a technology background, that it’s all about business value.
In terms of mobile technology, it again comes back to what are you enabling in the business? It is a tempting area to innovate and invest as an incremental area for the business. But it must be seen as a way to structurally improve productivity.
Be ruthless on objectives and goals from mobile technology investment. It will deliver; and it will ensure IT is viewed as an enabler rather than a cost — Nirvana for a CIO!