IT's Real Role in Mobile Success

By Chris Marsh, Principal Analyst, Yankee Group — June 23, 2014

Yankee Group is increasingly being asked by our mobile service vendor and service provider customers how they should they sell into their enterprise prospects. A number of things are making this increasingly challenging; not least, is that most companies have not yet figured out the best way to organizationally become agile around these rapid technological changes.
 
For enterprise IT, the pace of change driven by mobility has already outstripped its ability to keep pace, and the following trends will only further erode the ability to control the IT environment to a traditional extent.
 
With mobile innovation squeezing IT from below and cloud-services from above, much has been written about the changing role of IT, with many believing they need to shift to become a gatekeeper or broker for services and internal consultant to the business that is consuming those services.
 
This is giving them more credit than they deserve and more responsibility than they should be expected to assume.
 
The gatekeeper role for IT has, in many ways, been a knee-jerk reaction to this shifting landscape; reflecting the vested interests of many large IT vendors in maintaining their traditional and uncomplicated buying center and in IT departments themselves wanting to maintain their own budgets.

IT’s Lost Control
Yankee Group’s “Empowered Employee” and “IT Decision-Maker” surveys (March) attest to IT struggling to keep pace with the influx of new technologies:

  • 14% of employees who know that IT policy prohibits the use of consumer devices and apps for work, use them regardless
  • 79% of all smartphones being used for work purposes are owned by employees
  • 56% of employees believe they would be more productive at work if they had access to their own personal technologies
  • 41% of companies find it very difficult (8,9 or 10 out of 10) to apply consistent mobile access and management policies
  • 67% of companies find it difficult to manage the costs associated with mobile devices

User Centricity Empowers User-Facing LOBs
The pace of this change is also only accelerating driven by a number of macro trends. The center of gravity in the technology ecosystem is shifting rapidly towards the mobile end user—whether they be customers, partners or employees.

As this happens, data becomes core enterprise inventory with the ability to continuously add value to a critical enterprise capability; leading-edge companies are already becoming more culturally accustomed to and technologically capable of exposing that data across their lines of business, and out to the mobile user. None of the above can happen, however if the tools, services and platforms being used themselves simply create new technology silos.

Open Architecture, Open Path
Aligning with these trends will require the empowerment of mobile user facing departments to respond rapidly to change, something IT has traditionally been ill-suited for. This ultra-responsiveness will require lines of business to be able to procure services and tools without the need for IT approval.

What is needed from IT, however, is the architecting and provisioning of a more open and extensible infrastructure on which these services can be deployed.
 
The role of the IT department then needs to be more architect than gatekeeper.
 
IT needs to be an important party in decisions on the integrated solution architecture, information governance and infrastructural support and that may help set the tone for service procurement, but lines of business will be the ones procuring and using them. They won’t necessarily be going to IT each time for that.
 
In other words IT needs to get out of the way of the more user-facing departments, where ideation and value creation actually happens, and needs to support a more open and extensible architecture to let those teams do the innovating.

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