See also: In pictures, 7 tablets for business
The 2012 CIO Agenda survey from analysts Gartner shows that mobile technology has moved rapidly up the CIO agenda and is now second only to analytics/business intelligence as a priority.
The latest statistics, plus common sense, explain why.
Smartphones and tablets continue to be the sales phenomenon of our age, eclipsing the relatively stagnant markets for PCs and laptops.
Worldwide, some 472 million smartphones were sold last year, with estimates that 46 per cent of the UK population now has a smartphone.
And as a result, people increasingly expect the IT they use at work to be as quick, easy, intuitive and mobile as it is at home.
Today’s corporate IT rarely fulfills those expectations, sparking attitudes of resigned acceptance from older workers but increasingly vocal puzzlement and frustration from many younger ones.
In an article entitled Mobility ushers in a brave new world, my colleague Fernando Alvarez, who heads our mobile solutions global unit, expanded on this issue.
He wrote: “Organisations are increasingly recognising that with mobile users in the hundreds of millions, and mobile apps downloads in the tens of billions, today’s reality is that customers and employees expect to interact with them immediately, wherever they may be.
“As a result, the market for mobility services is one of the fastest growing in IT services. Smartphones, tablets and apps have embedded mobile technology firmly into our lives and this revolution is transforming the way we work and interact. Organisations everywhere must respond or risk being left behind.”
Mobility is about supplying critical, real-time information to the right people and, of course, it presents a considerable challenge to the CIO.
It goes far beyond allowing employees to access corporate email from outside the office or offering a few business apps.
The first requirement must surely be an effective and credible mobile strategy, giving all involved a clear vision of aims, timescales and resources, and spanning all three technology layers:
The resulting plan must determine and prioritise what mobile applications are needed, how they will be deployed, hosted and supported, and how tools and services will be selected to enable mobile solutions for multiple platforms.
All of which might sound like a revolution. But it is an inescapable one, and one that is already happening rather than about to happen. Let’s take a few examples.
1 Bristol City Council
We are currently working with the housing department at Bristol City Council to deploy an automated workforce management solution on mobile devices, so that field workers can receive and report information without delay.
The solution aims to improve customer satisfaction among council house tenants while saving some £2.7m a year.
It is deployed on mobile devices it will allow the seamless channelling of timely, relevant information, between enterprise systems, some 300 field operatives, and dispatch staff.
Everyone is kept in the picture about progress on every job.
2 Subsea 7
Mobile access is also key at offshore engineering company Subsea 7.
With its main base in Aberdeen, Subsea 7 operates in the North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Brazil, Asia Pacific and West Africa, providing expertise, resources and technology to meet the challenges of its oil and gas industry customers in shallow or deepwater developments.
We provided mobile real-time support for their teams working on offshore rigs and on their own vessels around the world, together with real-time monitoring with audit trails for vital compliance purposes.
In retail too, mobile IT is proving its value. Boulanger is France’s leading multimedia and electronics retailer, and engaged Capgemini to build a new iPhone solution to give customers information about its store locations, products, specfications, services, loyalty schemes, prices and special promotions.
It was an instant hit with customers, quickly reaching ‘top 25’ status for all iPhone applications in its category and with over 20,000 downloads in the first six weeks.
The company’s Director of IT Services, Patrick Perret, said: “This application opens new horizons in the world of mobility and eCommerce.”
It is clear that across many businesses and industries, mobile IT is growing in recognition.
And with facilitators such as cloud computing rapidly maturing, and with 4G around the corner, the argument for mobile connectivity becomes stronger by the day.
Christine Hodgson is Chairman of Capgemini UK