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Enterprise Mobility and Mobile Strategy

2012 May 28

The mobile industry often delimits efforts between B2E “Enterprise Mobility” and B2C “Mobile Commerce” initiatives. This may have been a valid distinction in the past, but it’s short sighted to think of mobile separately.

A successful mobile strategy requires a holistic approach that looks at everything from employee usage, customer usage, mobile marketing and third-party mobility.

Similar forces are acting similarly on every type of mobile initiative. A rapidly changing mix of devices must securely access an increasing number of legacy enterprise systems in a secure and user-friendly way.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is bringing the lightning-fast consumer device replacement schedule to the enterprise. BYOD is also rapidly breaking down enterprise IT rules against supporting certain devices. Apple and Android devices are now commonplace at many companies and RIM BlackBerrys are fading away. iPads in particular are finding uses across the organization adding further pressure for IT to not only support iOS but the tablet form factor.

A rapidly changing mix of devices must securely access an increasing number of legacy enterprise systems in a secure and user-friendly way.

In many cases, IT no longer has the luxury of telling users to wait until they are ready. Users, like sales people, regional managers, financial advisors and insurance agents often have a clear business need to access old systems with new devices.

Similarly, enterprise systems often can’t skimp on usability. Mobile workflows such as inventory management, line busting and field service are too critical for users to fumble around making mistakes. Repetition solves unintuitive design, but there’s usually no user fix for too many steps in the process or connectivity issues that slow users down or prevent the task from getting done at all.

For example, imagine the business impact of a retail associate trying to check out users on an app that has too many steps in the process and ends up being slower, even with practice, than the old-fashioned POS terminal. The app won’t get used, the benefits won’t be realized, and the effort will be a huge waste of development time and a hassle for customers and associates. Of course, if the POS terminals were removed as a part of the rollout, the impact would be catastrophic, rendering customers unable to pay and destroying store sales.

Similarly, if a field service employee has a paper or laptop-based manual replaced with a phone or tablet-based process, it had better work. The mobile process shouldn’t introduce errors into the fix causing technicians to make another visit and potentially create a safety issue in some cases. Workflows must work even without network connectivity and increasingly in an environment where the worker chooses the device, not IT — and the information must not be mixed for privacy reasons.

Of course, customer-facing B2C initiatives face these challenges too. Customers expect support for their device – and customers must be able to figure out how to use the app without training.

So, the challenges are increasingly similar for B2E and B2C mobile initiatives. The solutions often are similar and complementary. Organizations must understand all the ways they’re planning to use mobile and find common solutions across the organization.

The right approach reduces development expense and gets solution to market and in the field quicker where ultimately customers and shareholders benefit from better mobile interaction.

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