How to Develop a Mobile Strategy

by Tom Chew, national general manager for Slalom Consulting

A hundred years ago, the automobile transformed the lives of Americans by providing unprecedented mobility, allowing the nation to connect population centers and farmlands, recreation sites and job sites. In this century, our country and the world are undergoing another transformation in mobility with the burgeoning array of smartphones, tablet PCs, and wireless laptops and their impact is no less extensive than that of the Model T and its successors.

Mobile devices are connecting everything

Mobile devices are changing the way that members of the current generation connect with other people, find their way, seek out entertainment, and perform their jobs. In fact, according to an Ericsson study, more than 50 percent of all Internet access was done via a hand-held device in 2010. IDC expects Internet access via hand-held devices to surpass access through wired PCs by 2015.

It follows then that, just as our nation required a plan for our highway system and roadmaps to guide us, businesses today must have a plan for selecting, using, and managing mobile devices within their enterprises and for determining if and how mobile applications can improve their business.

This type of plan is called a mobile strategy.

Laying out a strategy for how your business will deploy and control mobile technology entails two stages. First, you must examine your portfolio of applications — the software you use within your operation and that which you may offer customers, as well. Second, call on expert advice to prioritize and execute on mobile solutions, helping to streamline the initiation of business projects and bring ideas to reality more rapidly.

Understanding the BYOD challenge

Increasingly, businesses are discovering that employees are bringing their own devices and their own apps into the workplace. This somewhat complicates the examination process. This generation of employees has grown up with smartphones and wireless PCs — now they’ve added iPads and other tablets to their collection of technology — and keeping these devices close at hand is as natural as it was for Baby Boomers to wear a watch or carry a briefcase.

In fact, a new acronym has emerged to describe this phenomenon: bring your own device, or BYOD. This trend toward the consumerization of IT coupled with the current generation’s expectations of technology availability makes it all the more important that the enterprise create and propagate a mobile strategy.

How to begin crafting your mobile strategy

The strategic process begins with an organizational readiness assessment; an understanding of where your enterprise stands from the perspectives of its people, processes, and technology and of how mobility can positively impact your competitive position. From there a strategy and roadmap are developed tying mobility plans to the strategic objectives of the organization. A plan is set in place for mobile device management and the continued ability to execute and evolve the strategy — often through a mobile center of excellence (COE).

The COE can provide core governance, defining a stakeholder group to prioritize, deploy, and evaluate mobile projects. The center can create a project and platform decision-criteria matrix and then build and execute the mobility roadmap. It also can furnish organizational recommendations, ensuring the best use of current employees who have the right skills and availability and making recommendations for additional organizational alignment and executive champions.

In developing a mobile strategy, corporate leadership should keep six “musts” in mind. The mobile strategy must:

  1. Be based on value-driven strategies;
  2. Be designed for multiple platforms across the enterprise;
  3. Be seamlessly integrated across channels and networks;
  4. Imbed governance and standards based on the users and industry;
  5. Invest in capabilities that deliver scale and flexibility; and
  6. Enable monitoring and analytics that drive competitive advantages.