CIOs with mobility initiatives should narrow their focus to a selection of business processes for better return on investment (ROI), according to global IT consulting firm Bluewolf.
Many Australian businesses with mobility initiatives have struggled to achieve a strong ROI. Nearly half of 120 Australian executives surveyed in a recent Accenture report reported a less than 50 per cent ROI on mobility projects.
That was in spite of the fact that 30 per cent of the Australian organisations planned to spend $32 million in the next two years on mobile capabilities, more than any other country except for the United States.
Many companies may not be seeing ROI on mobility because they have taken an unfocused approach, Patrick Bulacz, CTO of APAC for Bluewolf, told CIO Australia.
“They just try and boil the ocean. They try to cut off too many processes in a particular app and they try and release it,” he said. “What we find is, when that application ages, it doesn’t have any innovation and there’s no feedback from the users as to what features they want.”
Focusing on about three business processes is likely to yield more immediate ROI and efficiencies, he said. More features can be added later, as needed, he said.
A good mobility strategy starts with knowing what kind of devices will be provided and how to control them, Bulacz said.
“It starts off with the device, goes onto the application strategy and thirdly it’s really about consolidating the backend – making sure all the data is accessible in some way, shape or form.”
Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) “is the first step in engaging mobile adoption in your organisation,” he said. “If they’re willing to bring in their own devices, you should embrace that.”
BYOD should be combined with an enterprise app store, he said. “You don’t need to lock down a user’s device. You just need to give them the right tools to do their job effectively.”
Implementing mobility into the organisation requires strong leadership and must include the whole business, said Arlene Wherrett, Blue Wolf managing director ANZ.
She said less than half of organisations have a comprehensive change management strategy. Executives must “lead the way” and show an understanding of how mobility will change the lives of employees and customers, as well as their own.
“By having that change of mindset and change in attitude, then leaders can demonstrate that they’re completely committed and enthusiastic about this sort of change or vision,” Wherrett said.
“They have to paint the big picture but also explain the details. What that means is they really need to have the future vision and be able to articulate it to different audiences in such a way that they then understand how it’s going to impact their daily levels.”
One way to create excitement across the workplace is to assign “champions,” early adopter employees who can spread their knowledge to their peers, she advised.
Mobility should be a business-wide discussion, because the IT department can sometimes be out of touch with the end user, said Wherrett.
“Often what we’re seeing is that marketing and sales have a much better focus on the customer. They can get really excited about engaging with their customer.”
It’s all about customer engagement, added Bulacz. “The people that are closest to the customer … know what needs to go into a solution for them to better that engagement.”
Wherett said she observed at a recent conference that about half the CIOs in attendance appeared to be business-focused, she said. “They were thinking about the future. They were engaged with what the ultimate results of their organisation needed to be.”
“Those CIOs were best placed to have these kinds of conversations around the customer and how technology can enable interaction and engagement with customers.”
However, the other 50 per cent she saw “were more traditional and not as customer-focused,” she said.
“My concern is that those CIOs might get left behind.”
Adam Bender covers business tech issues for CIO and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam
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