Mobilizing the enterprise is not for the fainthearted. Every day, we see large, experienced IT organizations struggle with getting this right.
Companies that have successfully navigated the rapids of previous technology change—from mainframe to client-server to desktop to Web—tend to be confident that they can handle this one, too. It’s just another form of asset management, right?
Well, no. Mobility represents an extremely complex technical hurdle, which calls for competencies, experience and focus that most enterprises—regardless of bench strength or outsourcing provider—simply don’t have.
When it comes to handling this latest wave of change, why do companies stumble? Often, the trouble starts with IT’s unspoken (though understandable) assumptions about the task ahead:
1. “We’re involving everyone we need.”
You’re probably not, because mobility is incredibly pervasive. It impacts every segment of the organization. Months before deployment, key stakeholders from every business unit, geography, Legal, HR, Finance, Sales and Logistics need to fully understand where the enterprise is headed, what applications are (and aren’t) candidates for mobilization, and how and when employees will be onboarded. They, in turn, need to communicate early and often with their staffs to avoid last-minute surprises and even insurrections.
2. “We can do this ourselves.”
Companies that have less-than-happy memories of, say, outsourced ERP implementations are reluctant to loosen their hold on a key infrastructure component like mobility. The problem is that mobility differs qualitatively and quantitatively from previous IT challenges, and your institutional “lessons learned” not only don’t apply but can lead you down an unmanageable path. The only way to cope with issues of scale, process complexity and rapid change is to get knowledgeable help—early.
3. “We’ll just ask our helpdesk provider to beef up its support level.”
In a mobilized environment, Tier One calls go away; every call is Tier Two—and often charged with emotion. Expectations for service are incredibly high, and a 10-minute-average wait just won’t fly now. Service personnel can’t simply read from a script or work their way down a checklist. They must be experts on the intricacies of iOS, three or four flavors of Android, Windows Phone 8, dozens of form factors, applications and several carrier “skins”—and on how those variables interact. How many folks like that do you or your provider have on staff? How do you keep them trained as new software and hardware arrives in a steady stream?
4. “Mobile data? Our business analysts can deal with that.”
Mobile data represent a monumental shift in volume—you might go from 2,000 fixed, homogenous devices to 20,000 portable, heterogeneous ones, with each device carrying far more data than any previous digital asset: personal and business contacts, IEMI and other serial numbers, licensed and unlicensed apps and business and individual content. Furthermore, this data originates in disparate sources (aka silos) that haven’t needed to communicate well in the past. In these circumstances, real-time business intelligence is just a pipe dream. What you need are mobility-specific data feeds from every corner of the enterprise, aggregated so that BI dashboards can monitor activity and prescriptively trigger actions that are part of a business process. This is a far cry from static historical reporting.
5. “Look, a mobile device is just another asset to schedule and track.”
From an IT-management standpoint, there’s never been an asset like a mobile device; it’s unique. By definition, it’s always on the move, and its attributes, requirements, contents and metrics change as soon as it crosses a border or changes hands. Unlike the traditional three-to-five-year asset lifecycle, mobile assets live an accelerated 12-to-18-month cycle. Given this, it makes more sense to wrap these assets into a predictable monthly “utility bill” instead of a capex investment. Let an expert worry about the rapid asset turnover, and avoid disruptive cost spikes every time you turn around.
6. “It’s a control issue, plain and simple.”
Sorry, the horse is out of the barn. Mobility is already out of control. This doesn’t mean you can’t manage it intelligently, but as a fluid social phenomenon, mobility just shrugs off any attempt at top-down control. Trying to control mobility will tie your organization in knots, cost a great deal and alienate your best people. That said, the tradeoff is certainly worth it: mobility opens up so many new avenues for enriching your customer conversations, extending your omnichannel brand, enhancing staff productivity and optimizing your market presence. But to move in this direction, you first need to relax your grip on mobile assets.