How the mobility revolution is affecting wider business strategies

Lawrence Jones

Monday 10 August 2015

The mobile revolution isn’t just transforming the way we use technology, it’s challenging processes too. But with fewer than half of businesses having a clear mobile strategy, we look at what they need to know to stay ahead.

The move to mobile has fundamentally changed the role of IT within a business. As mobile becomes embedded within its fabric, and fundamental to its performance, a solid and secure IT strategy is integral to a business’ success.

Whether it’s apps or integrating third party software, mobile challenges teams in new and different ways. This move to mobile is in part a reflection on the increasing trust businesses are putting into the cloud, but it’s more likely to be a natural reaction to the reality that mobile is now the most popular choice for online browsing and access.

Mobility poses many challenges for businesses that need to be resolved in the boardroom, not the server room. We look at how your business can thrive in this newly connected environment.

Mobile as mission critical

Mobile technology is now so important to a business, it’s mission critical. But just what does this mean?

“The businesses we work with are building their entire business model around mobile,” says Andy Farmer, CEO of MyOxygen – a UK-based mobile development company that creates apps for businesses and large public sector organisations. “They are integrating mobile into their business to the point where it’s fundamental to the way that they work.”

It’s not just commercial enterprises. “We build apps and digital platforms for customers in a variety of sectors, including the health service, defence and the legal sector, and they all consider these developments as a key part of their business, with failure a huge risk to reputation and productivity,” Farmer adds.

So the first stage of building mobility into strategy is to ensure it’s considered at the top table and recognised as fundamental to your business.

Staying flexible

A strong mobile strategy, with clear deliverables and goals, is essential. But with the estimated failure rate of business strategies believed to be around 80 to 90 per cent, the truth is that many strategies confine themselves to representing the business realities of today and work on the assumption that things will stay the same in the future. Where technology is involved, there’s no chance of that being the case.

Both the next generation of wearables and the increasingly powerful range of smartphones have the potential to disrupt existing strategies. In dealing with this environment, businesses could certainly learn a lesson from developers and take an agile approach.

Even if you’re not ready to go agile, organisations need to create strategies adaptable enough to manage any shifts in demand or patterns of usage while continuing to deliver services and engage customers.

Investment in security

Mobile connections bring opportunity, but also bring risk. The growth in targeted attacks and increased media attention on breaches reflects the importance of security.

“Security is of paramount importance, particularly when and where systems interact with one another,” Farmer explains. “In certain sectors – the health service and defence for instance – demand high-levels of security. But many don’t.”

And, when pushed, Farmer remains unequivocal: “Ensuring all of your systems are secure is essential. But it’s not just you; any user of your system can expose you to risk – so invest in training and development for them too and create an organisational culture of security.”

Users are now seeing a blurring of private, personal and business across their devices. The future direction of enterprise computing is less about managing the end point and much more about how to manage data and distribute content securely. It’s essential that creating a secure and reliable mobile strategy be paramount for your business.

Aligning mobile to business goals

Mobile breaks down barriers between functions, with the IT team now having a clear line to marketing and customer experience. It’s about treating mobile as normal business, which involves creating clear and measurable goals and objectives, all captured within KPIs.

Organisations will need to work closely with the IT team to create metrics that truly represent what success looks like. “It’s likely the management team won’t fully understand the nature of mobile, and the IT team won’t necessarily understand the complexity of the businesses environment – so they will need to work together,” Farmer suggests.

Self-reflection

The changes in mobile technology are challenging the culture of IT teams. A decade ago nobody could have foreseen the way mobile has changed our lives. It’s just one major disruption, but it won’t be the last.

Recognising the importance of mobile is a first step but not the only one. It needs to be fully embraced within the business, which involves creating processes and controls as well as changing culture. It’s a tough challenge, but it could be the difference between a market leader and an also-ran.

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