Monday, July 7, 2014

A Roundtable Perspective on Enterprise Mobility

By Lindsay Britz, Marketing Manager, Magic Software South Africa

I recently had the honor of participating in an industry roundtable held at one of the local IT publications in Johannesburg where a group of high level representatives had an in-depth discussion on the topic of enterprise mobility.

All participants came representing different technologies and focusing on different aspects of enterprise mobility. Consequently, I had anticipated that there would be radically different and opposing views on the topic; but what was interesting however was the similarity of general themes that were discussed and agreed by all parties.

In order to best summarize the entire roundtable, I have compiled the following tips and tidbits stemming from these common themes which I believe will ensure successful mobile adoption in any enterprise.

1.    Think Big

The choice to innovate and go mobile has to be a decision made with the overall business strategy in mind. The decision impacts everyone in the company.IT needs to be on board – Their role is to architect the new IT landscape through the use of new software or app development solutions, and further to ensure that the current IT infrastructure can support these new ventures. Line of Business Managers need to have their say – They need to meet and exceed both their customers’ expectations and their own internal targets. They don’t want to be hindered by technology; they want to be enabled by it.Take your time. Have a look at the big picture. Create a blueprint of your processes and all touch points where customers/employees/partners interact with backend systems. And go for it!

2.    Act Small

Going mobile can be daunting; especially with a giant cross-departmental blueprint that spans the entire company. You do not have to have sprint finish to the line.
So, break it up into milestones, small projects or modules. Rank your projects by urgency and importance to the business and start from there. Get quick wins under your belt. This will bolster support and allow the naysayers to see the progress and buy into the idea of mobility.

3.    Trim the Fat

Enterprise mobility is about creating efficiency through reducing the red tape and manual processes. Have a look at all existing business processes across all functional departments in order to determine their overall efficiency and relevance to the strategy.
Do not be afraid to remodel or even drop what does not work. If the process can be improved and innovated through mobilizing it, great – redesign it! If it becomes completely redundant, great – drop it!

4.    Connect, Connect, Connect

Big, small, structured or unstructured – whatever you call your data – it has to be presented in a way that provides context to the user of the app. The only way you can do this is to ensure that your systems are integrated. Integration can be complicated and costly, especially when so many components and APIs can be incorporated in mobile apps, so choose the platform that provides you with this flexibility and agility.
Point-to-point or middleware works, as long as it is real time and always on. However, be aware that point-to-point solutions create spaghetti-like code that is complex and difficult to maintain. Steer clear from mass batch transfer tools, as old data is useless. 

5.    Enable Channels

Empower and mobilize is the name of the game. You cannot dictate where, when and how employees/customers/partner interact or transact with your systems; the whole point is to put the power in their hands after all. The need to cater to many different operating systems and devices can complicate development, but usually isn’t avoidable, especially when BYOD is the rule.
Therefore, it’s best to take a multi-channel approach. Choose a platform that adheres to a develop-once-deploy-multiple paradigm so you can leverage a single development effort across many devices. Keep the same look and feel across all touch points, devices, and operating systems. Why? Ease of use and adoption. At the slightest hint of a poor user experience, the user will find an alternative solution to your app.

Conclusion

We are all trying to keep up with the rapid evolution of mobility, and enterprise mobility in particular; but this group managed to highlight that the basics are vital. Yes, they are the foundation for many an editorial piece or blog post, but they still remain the building and stumbling blocks for many companies.


Cloud, Big Data, and the Internet of Things also kept on cropping up in the discussion. It was evident and clear to all involved in the discussion that these technological concepts are changing the face of mobility in general and also significantly affecting enterprise mobility as well. Stay tuned folks – this subject will only get more and more interesting.



Lindsay Britz is the Marketing Manager for Magic South Africa.