Mobile computing in all its complex, multifaceted, unstructured indigestible glory is on the plate of every IT leader and IT department. It can’t be avoided, and who would want to do so?
Organisations have talked about having a mobile strategy since the first the first director invited the rest of the board outside to admire their first car phone. Barely 20 years on, smartphones, tablets, laptops and netbooks are everywhere and shortly to be joined by ultrabooks.
They are all capable of helping employees, customers and business partners at the time and place that’s right for them.
In the excitement about creating a mobile organisation, it is worth asking whether you really have a mobile strategy, or do you have a series of stand-alone projects – which risk an avalanche of unintended consequences.
If you are building a smartphone app, business departments can squabble and compete over how it will work, and what it should include.
What about your e-commerce systems? They were built for transactions, while mobile computing is all about engagement – that is giving the end users something they need at the time and place they need it.
Your back-end infrastructure and middleware for e-commerce were designed for PCs access the internet. Mobile devices could create demands an order of magnitude greater, and fundamentally different in nature.
That is just the start. It is not just IT infrastructure that isn’t a good fit for a genuinely mobile organisation; it is IT governance and even the vision of the IT department that may not be a good fit for the demands of a mass mobile computing era.
A recent research paper from Forrester goes beyond the usual platitudes and hype to propose some practical action. It calls for organisations to consider creating a chief mobility officer, with a strong team and a remit which cuts across business functions and established IT domains.
The first item on the agenda should be to top slice the development budgets for building front end apps and spend use the cash on engineering infrastructure and middleware for the mobile revolution. The longer term goal though is to get the technical and business leaders alike to think in terms of engaging customers, on the move, as they go about their lives.
The CMO needs to be an evangelist, a diplomat and visionary who is tech savvy and can talk to business people in language they understand.
We are not living in another dotcom boom, with technology hype driven by an insanely inflated stock market. We are seeing a fundamental shift in technology, empowering potentially billions of people who love their mobile devices. This is your opportunity to get in their pockets.