The conclusions of Forrester’s Ted Schadler and John McCarthy drawn from the interviews with 61 firms that are classed a mobile innovators strikes a number of chords with our experience.
It is definitely true that we are in a power shift. Tablet and smartphone sales data tell us that quite clearly. Quite whereabouts along the spectrum of that power shift depends on the organisation, its markets and the propensity of its stakeholders to consider and adopt new technology. In the firms that we have spoken to, it is that propensity that is driving the change.
Now you could argue that the propensity comes in part from the organisation and the market and you’d be right. But, it also comes from people’s attitude and their desire to create corporate competitive advantage – with a happy co-incidence of personal competitive advantage of being an early adopted. In short, it is about attitude and open-mindedness. And almost in all cases that we’ve experience it is driven by the business and not IT.
The downside of the business being the centre of gravity does drive change quickly, allows for easier (a relative term!) implementation of process change and perhaps a shorter-term ROI focus (as it is often operational rather capital expenditure).
The Forrester team see these challenges:
- A multichannel coordination quagmire (e.g. how does an app work with a call centre’s process)
- Business processes designed for transactions, not engagement (i.e. creating simple, one-off interactions)
- Servers and infrastructure ill-prepared for exploding activity volumes
- Middleware, application, and security models poorly constructed for engagement (i.e. the use of SOA and web service)
- Design, development and governance processes misaligned with mobile requirements (i.e. designing with the user in mind not the existing system or data)
When we look at this from an enterprise app perspective (i.e. one used by employees), we’d include a few more consideration.
- Designing for employees has subtle yet important differences to consumer or corporate app UX. At work our motivations are different. Given that by 2016 350m employees will use smartphones and business spending on mobile projects will have grown by 100 per cent to over $20bn per year
- Building a small – forgiving, but representative – user base to aid the iterative development process is essential
- Having a mobile champion or a team that’s empowered to enable mobility through the organisation will help – whether is the Chief Mobility Officer or a head of mobile
- Does the app support an existing process or re-invent it – or somewhere in between? It has to depend on what’s right on balance, but all three need consideration before development
- Should business owners be allowed to create apps with the central teams’ support. On balance, yes because they have the business pain and gain. But they need rules in which to operate and support, plus a shared roadmap
- Take mobile first approach with every app development
- A Mobile Device Management strategy is essential. So is a clear strategy on supporting BYOD (By Your Own Device) and a rules on what platforms are supported
- Creating a secure platform for devices that has a mobile friendly architecture
- Look at the options of creating an enterprise app store
Lots to consider. A fine balance needs to be struck between planning and doing. Some of the best planning insights come from having done something. Either way sharing development experiences across the organisation is essential.