Four Emerging Mobility Challenges for Business Owners in 2016
The Explosion of Mobile Devices, Applications and Opportunities
Hundreds of millions of consumer-driven tablets and smart phones have been deployed by business and adopted by employees in the last three years. These Android®, Apple®, and Microsoft®-driven devices have been embraced by businesses because they offer the ability to scan images, collect data, conduct transactions, track location, and communicate in one convenient package.
The unique capabilities of mobile devices – combined with the power of analytics, the flexibility of cloud computing and the economics of consumer IT – offer the potential to deliver significant business value and efficiency. They offer bigger and faster return on investment because of shorter application development timelines, employee “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) deployment models and the ability to enable more than one field application on one mobile device. This has led to an explosion of business applications that make it possible for more and more employees to work more productively anywhere and anytime. As organizations invest in mobile applications, they will need to focus on four emerging challenges to drive ROI in the form of reduced operating costs, increased improve employee productivity, and enhanced customer satisfaction.
The Challenges for Business Owners
Business owners will be faced with a number of challenges as they try to realize the potential of these mobile applications and generate measurable returns from these investments. Today, most of this energy is being applied to the basics of device selection and providing virtual secure mobile access to files, resources, and communications tools on mobile devices. This is a necessary first step. But it will likely not be enough to justify the investment and realize the full growth potential of tablets and smartphones. The experience of early adopters strongly suggests that business owners will be faced with a number of second order challenges as their mobility programs rollout and mature. These challenges will need to be addressed if they expect to realize measurable and even transformational returns from their investment in mobility. They include:
- Managing the complexity and costs related to enabling mobile applications, users and device ownership models;
- Delivering a superior user experience to ensure high levels of acceptance, “mindshare” and adoption from mobile employees;
- Speeding new and upgraded applications will be a big priority as mobile devices become the primary means for interacting with customers;
- Having a strong business case and vision for how mobility will add incremental value to core processes and maximize the return on legacy investments in back end systems, data, and content assets will become very important as their programs mature and rollout.
To address these challenges and realize the full potential of mobile devices to improve business, business owners will need to take a greater role in defining, leading and executing their mobile enablement strategies. This article outlines what to expect, and five areas business owners will need to focus on to ensure they are ready to capitalize on the explosion of mobile devices, applications, and opportunities.
What to Expect As Your Mobility Program Scales and Matures
As mobile deployments mature over the next 18 months having a strong user experience and quantifying your business case will become much bigger management issues. The mobile maturity model outlined below highlights the importance of having a strong business case and vision for how mobility will change the user experience will become very important as their programs mature and rollout. This analysis of 100 projects by Profitable Channels shows that most of the energy behind mobility programs today is being applied to the basics of device selection and providing virtual secure mobile access to files, resources, and communications tools on mobile devices. This is a necessary first step. But it will likely not be enough to justify the investment and realize the full growth potential of tablets and smartphones – particularly if organizations with mobile workers are going to be asked to fund tablets as a third device in addition to a PC and smartphone. This analysis found that the most successful mobile executions in terms of profitable growth and effectiveness started with a vision for transforming the mobile worker and customer experience, and created a roadmap to leverage mobile assets and matured to their vision in a series of well-defined phases. Organizations that focused on these three value drivers generated the greatest measurable return on their tablet programs in terms of efficiency, effectiveness and the clients’ experience. This means that in order to successfully cost justify their investment in mobility, most organizations will need to re-engineer their processes, reshape content and redesign their mobile worker and customer experience. This is illustrated by the dotted “Return on Investment” line in the chart above.
Four Emerging Mobility Challenges to Anticipate
These mobility trends have important implications to businesses in the process of scaling their mobile initiatives. Specifically, the executives that sponsor mobility programs should absorb four lessons from market leaders to make sure they achieve high levels of user adoption and superior returns on their mobile investments:
- Improving the experience of both mobile workers and customers is essential to mobile success. The success of market leaders indicates the key to achieving measurable and transformational business results is to focus on enhancing the experience of both customers and mobile workers. Best-in-class organizations took steps to re-engineer their processes, reshape their content, and redesign their mobile worker experience.
- It is important to have a business case to direct mobile strategy and drive ROI. The majority of organizations view mobility as critical to success, but more than two thirds don’t have a comprehensive mobile strategy and business case. This is a problem because without a business case and vision for how mobile devices will transform the enterprise by reducing costs, work and training time and improve the customer experience it will be difficult to cost justify the investment. Contrary to popular perception, tablets do not immediately pay for themselves – particularly if you are deploying company owned 4G tablets that are used as a “third device.”
- The costs of managing and controlling complexity will grow as your program matures. With the rapid proliferation of mobile applications and users, getting control over your mobility program will become a bigger priority from a compliance, cost, performance and security standpoint. Already 70% of employees are using personal devices at work. 9 out of 10 senior executives use mobile applications at work to stay informed, entertained or productive. Securing and controlling this mixture of personal and corporate devices and applications will require tools more sophisticated than basic mobile device management and security tools and systems in place today.
- Pressure to speed applications to the field. Speeding new and upgraded applications into the hands of mobile workers will become a bigger consideration as mobile devices become a primary means of interacting with customers, training mobile workers and launching new product initiatives. There will be pressure to keep your applications on the leading edge to stay competitive – particularly in industries where mobility is rapidly becoming standard practice – such as the automotive, software, medical devices, health care and increasingly retail industry.
Where Business Owners Should Focus Their Energies Going Forward
There are several places business owners need to focus their management attention to ensure they are ready to manage these challenges and fully capitalize on the explosion of mobile devices, applications and opportunities. The first priority is to make sure they have developed a mobile strategy and business case to ensure they get a sufficient return on investment and sufficient levels of user acceptance, mindshare and adoption. The active involvement of business leaders is important because they are in the best position to direct and control these key success factors. If business leaders do not take an active role defining how their mobile enablement programs will evolve, the focus of mobile investment and resources will be consumed by initiatives that add significant management complexity and costs but deliver marginal returns. To realize the full growth potential of tablets, line of business executives should take three steps:
- Define a mobile business case and strategy. Define a business case that quantifies how your mobile investment will generate measurable improvements in profits and efficiencies in parallel with building the mobile infrastructure. Without a clear business case to prioritize, approve, direct and allocate resources to mobility it is likely resources will be consumed by initiatives that deliver marginal returns.
- Put in place a centralized application management & control structure. Manage and control the growing number of mobile applications and users applications to ensure compliance, control costs, and improve performance and security. The resources and management complexity associated with enabling many different mobile devices and applications can be significant.
- Deliver a superior user experience to mobile workers and customers. The success of market leaders indicates the key to achieving measurable and transformational business results is to focus on enhancing the experience of both customers and mobile workers. The companies getting the best results were reengineering their processes, changing the client engagement model, simplifying the workflow, and offering a distinctive “consumer grade” visual experience.