Do Enterprises Need a Chief Mobility Officer?

By Glenn Johnson, VP Americas, Magic Software — March 23, 2014

Mobility has risen to such a level of importance that many believe it deserves its own dedicated C-level position to advance and align mobility strategy throughout the enterprise. As an increasing number of mobile apps get rolled out across the business by different departments, a Chief Mobility Officer (CMOO) could provide a central function that directs and implements enterprise mobility strategy.
 
Today, organizations in every industry are using mobile apps to differentiate themselves and increase competitiveness. They are turning smartphones and tablets into work tools by using built-in scanners, positioning trackers, performance monitors, health monitors, HD video recorders and cameras, and more, to streamline business processes and decrease costs. This can be seen in the rapid growth of the Enterprise Mobile Application Development software market, which according to IDC, is expected to reach $4.8 billion by 2017.
 
Now that the race is on for the best mobile apps, having a formal function to create and drive a corporate-wide mobile strategy, define best practices and guidelines and manage mobile app development and deployment is becoming increasingly critical.  Deploying multiple mobile apps without centralized oversight can waste time and money, and increase security risks.  
 
Championing Apps
With users now spending more time accessing the Internet from mobile phones than any other device, businesses recognize that apps are an essential way to engage with their customers, employees and partners.  More than fun new tools, mobile apps can and should be driving business. They provide new ways to speed and automate processes, to innovate, differentiate and increase market share, satisfaction and loyalty. 
 
As such, mobile business apps deserve a champion within the organization. A key function of a CMOO would be to drive mobile apps by showing the business value these applications bring and demonstrating ROI from the costs of development and deployment across the organization.
 
Therefore, in addition to a deep knowledge of mobile technology, a CMOO needs to understand how mobile apps can streamline business processes and increase customer engagement to show the value and ROI mobile apps bring to the organization.  By translating mobile apps into financial benefits and working across business units, the CMOO becomes an income generator and cost saver as opposed to a cost center.
 
Ensuring Context-Based UX
With the diversity of devices in the enterprise, businesses get stuck between trying a one-size-fits-all approach and developing apps separately for each device and operating system.

If mobile apps are difficult to understand and navigate, they won’t be used, regardless of how much has been invested in advanced features and technology.  A good user experience is not just about customizing a web-page to fit the different dimensions of mobile device screens, but more about taking context into account.

Apps used in a context that is remote from the office need to incorporate location-aware features and be designed in a way that is aware of the mobile user’s behavior. Information needs to be displayed in a way that makes it functional and actionable.

And that is still not enough. Users also expect performance at all times—regardless of connectivity. Apps should continue to work even if network coverage is lost, making offline capabilities important. Likewise, crashes and transaction losses due to high traffic loads are also unacceptable, and must be factored into account.

A CMOO can make sure that all required user experience factors are accounted for in all the company’s apps whether through design or infrastructure.
 
Security Approach
Security fears are one of the main reasons enterprises have slowly waded into the mobility waters rather than diving in head first. A CMOO can help ensure security by developing, implementing and taking responsibility for compliance with a comprehensive security strategy for the entire mobile ecosystem: the device, the app and most importantly the data. 
 
Because app projects can involve multiple teams working on different aspects, it’s important to have a central leader to take responsibility for coordinating the many different groups involved in each app and for ensuring compliance with security guidelines by all.
 
Security holes are more likely to happen when different policies are implemented differently by different lines of business. Enterprises inadvertently expose the business and customers to security breaches when not taking a holistic approach to mobile security,  
 
There are also many different tools that can be used to help maintain secure enterprise mobility, and each has its own benefits and areas to consider. For example, while basic mobile device management (MDM) solutions include policy management for devices, corporate data and content or applications, only some high-end solutions include security mechanisms like data encryption, user authentication, malware protection or security regulation compliancy.
 
Containerization can be used to secure data at the device level for employee apps. While containers isolate enterprise data, they may also limit the apps that are available to employees. And because of reliance on SDKs, they may be out of date before the apps are even launched.
 
App wrapping or sandboxing automatically wraps security policies around each app in a way that enables IT to add additional layers of protection to any app without changing the actual app. App wrapping requiring use of an SDK may interfere with an employee’s personal apps while others won’t. 
 
The CMOO, who would have a wider view of the organization, could best determine the type of security and management tools that an enterprise should have, and where and when each should be utilized.
 
Building a Mobile Infrastructure
When creating and maintaining multiple mobile apps a CMOO could help strike the right balance between the endless technology choices and the need for fast time to market, efficiency, security and cost-effectiveness. Mobile application development platforms (MADP) enable cost-effective multi-channel development and embed industry knowledge so that common mistakes can be avoided. The right application and integration platforms can also help ensure compliance with all types of governmental regulations. 

If different departments created their own mobile apps without central oversight, enterprises could end up with costly and overlapping infrastructure components, and without a way to transfer knowledge learned from one deployment to the next.
 
A CMOO is the best way to drive enterprise mobility forward within the enterprise, to develop the necessary infrastructure, application development guidelines, and comprehensive security and management strategies to support safe and effective enterprise mobility.

With the complexity rising and the competition for developing the best mobile apps is heating up, businesses need a CMOO now more than ever.
 

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