The Steps to Mobile Innovation

By J Schwan, CEO & Founder, Solstice Mobile — May 08, 2013

The business world is in the midst of an enterprise software re-platforming — not unlike the move from mainframe to client-server applications, or from client-server to web applications. Contextual-aware devices with natural user interfaces are going to dramatically change the way we work over the next few years, not just by responding to commands but also by proactively completing tasks that need to get done.
 
Across industries — healthcare, finance, education, government, etc. — there is great opportunity to take advantage of context-aware computing, driven by mobile devices, for better business processes and audience engagement. This can be daunting to CIOs and enterprise application owners, but there are tactics to make this migration seamless and cost-effective. It starts with planning, and taking small steps — not leaps.
 
Getting Started
An initial lightweight mobile strategy (think weeks not months) should be put in place to highlight where the mobile moments are in the business, as well as to identify how the underlying architecture of the mobile channel should look. Many patterns have been identified and proven, but there is no one-size fits all strategy — it’s a matter of picking the right ones for your organization.
 
Getting started doesn't mean re-platforming the entire enterprise in one fell swoop. It also doesn't mean launching a "me too" app out into the app store and claiming "we're mobile!" It means carefully redefining how a portion of your business operates.
 
Step By Step
A recommended approach is starting with a few small, well-planned steps, instead of taking a giant leap toward your mobile transformation. Emerging trends and technologies have created an incredible opportunity for organizations to take these steps toward mobile enterprise innovation. Giant leaps from the current state may result in lack of ROI or operational efficiency through mobility.
 
So, what do these steps look like?
 
Phase 1: Business Needs

  • Collaboration and data enrichment
  • Process and cost efficiencies
  • Market awareness
  • Customer loyalty and retention
  • Revenue growth
Phase 2: Technology Assets
  • eCommerce systems
  • ERP systems
  • Collaboration platforms
  • Data warehouses
  • Document management systems
  • Integration hubs
Phase 3: Emerging Technologies
  • Contextual computing
  • Internet of things
  • Natural user interfaces (Siri, Google Now, Leap Motion, etc.)
  • Big Data
Phase 4: Enterprise Innovation
 
Within each phase, the steps listed are integrated with one another and with the stages that come before and after. In order for contextual computing to work,  for example, all of the steps in phase one must be enabled for two-way communication with the steps in phase two, and so on throughout the stages.
 
When Business and Technology Collide
The items in phase one are examples of corporate strategic initiatives, typically handed down from the C-suite: More efficient supply chain; shortening the order-to-cash process; increasing sales to current customers, etc. But making sure these business needs are met is often left to the CIO and IT team — and it’s their job to make sure that, in this case mobile, technology is in place to make it happen.
 
The items in phase two are a quick inventory of the enterprise technology assets you already have and that you plan to expand to mobile in the foreseeable future. When it comes to budgeting, enterprises often see mobile strategies as a costly endeavor. Leveraging current assets, however, instead of reinventing the wheel for mobility, can lead to much greater ROI.
 
The items in phase three (contextual awareness platforms, Internet of things platforms, natural user interfaces) are examples of innovative and emerging technologies that can help you "change the game" for your organization or industry.
 
These technologies are not just fads or trends — they need to be implemented in meaningful ways that improve relevant user experiences and drive ROI.  For example, a leading broad line supplier of maintenance, repair and operating products, alerts its field service workers via mobile app regarding the specific equipment installed in a given location, based on their GPS location.
 
They are able to provide an actionable list of replacement items that are specific to that location. This greatly reduces the time required for a service call and eliminates the possibility of using the wrong materials. Emerging technologies are fundamentally changing how humans interact with computers and they have (and will continue) to disrupt industries.
 
Connect the Dots
One small step can change the game for an organization or industry. Companies like Uber and Square have completely disrupted their respective industries (taxi cabs and cash registers) by taking advantage of the contextual capabilities of mobile. It's your turn to make the same impact in your enterprise and industry.  
 
The way to do this is to connect the dots — starting at phase one and branching off to phase four, and figure out which steps to take first.  Identify how you can solve the corporate strategic initiatives by leverage existing enterprise assets in new and more meaningful ways through mobile.
 
Perhaps, the biggest value of enterprise mobility and innovation is the ability to streamline the enterprise. Rather than just trying to improve on antiquated and/or complex systems, it enables organizations to re-imagine moments to engage more simply and readily with employees and customers. A step-by-step approach to enterprise mobility can lead to a more disruptive and sustainable company.

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