Sunday, May 19, 2013

An Enterprise Mobility Journey

Enterprise Mobility is more than just software or hardware it's a journey undertaken by business to realise the benefits of a mobile workforce. There is a beginning to the journey but more often than not no end. As with the introduction of other initiatives this journey tends to be circular. If you start from identifying a need, work through realisation, and move into support eventually new needs will arise. Of course that's why it's important to underpin all of this with a view to ongoing change management. Here is one way of categorising the key aspects of an Enterprise Mobility Journey:
  • Business Case
  • Product Selection
  • Realisation
  • Support
Enterprise Mobile Business Case
To stay in business it’s important to consider how funds are spent. Organisations of different sizes and types go through a business case process with more or less rigour. Some organisations may be capital heavy and invest in large equipment or plants. In these cases IT spending may be seen as a small insignificant part of the overall investment plan. For others money spent on IT is core to their DNA. Regardless of the company type there are always competing initiatives for funds. As well as getting a place in the investment hierarchy a business case has a number of benefits:
  • Socialises concepts and aligns vision (Needs)
  • Sets scope and boundaries (Requirements)
  • Defines the costs and benefits (ROI)
  • Acts as a reference for future stages of the mobile journey
While a business case for a mobility project can be treated in a similar fashion to any other business case. Here are a few tricks and traps to look out for:
  • New technology is not well understood
  • Replacing paper processes may have greater benefits than replacing an existing system
  • A mobile application could form part of marketing / advertising spend
  • Mobility investments often establish the basis of multiple projects
For further reading refer to these articles:

Enterprise Mobile Product Selection
At the outset it's worth mentioning that no one has a working crystal ball and it's clear to most that mobility is an area of rapid change. Often people ask me how can they trust product Z when last week product X was the leader. This is the same argument many people have when they are looking to buy a new personal mobile device or other technology. "Should I buy model X now knowing that in a few months perhaps a new model will be better?" My response is to harp back to the business case and requirements. If you know that the delivered features will enable you to achieve your business goals then you can feel comfortable. Consider when NASA built the Mars rovers they didn't look for the most recent or powerful mobile device, they used a clear list of requirements.

Of course there are a number of technical solutions to mobilising an enterprise so if the technology is new to you consider some of the following:
  • Industry events (get some insight, network, and talk to experts)
  • Similar non-competitive companies (perhaps another geography)
  • Web & Social (plenty of people willing to help)
  • Existing partner network (your solutions partners may have expertise)
  • Research firms (such as Gartner or the newer crowd sourcing alternatives)
  • Back end connectivity (ensure your technology integrates)
  • In house talents (mobility is an exciting area for many people)
  • Platform or point solution (does your case allow for future expansion)
For further reading refer to these articles:

Enterprise Mobile Realisation
The realisation phase of a mobile journey is where the rubber hits the road. The scope of this phase can vary widely depending on the business case, the product selected, and the implementation approach. Ensure that before too much rubber has hit the road all involved parties agree on the way forward. There maybe a big difference between leveraging an existing cloud solution and a more traditional waterfall driven software project. Regardless of how agile (or not) the project is each will (or should) have a a degree of:
  • Design/Confirmation
  • Build/Implement
  • Test/Train
  • Pilot/Deploy

During realisation is of course a key time to be referring back to that business case and most specifically the requirements. Oh and if you're looking for a great result never forget the importance of business and IT change management.
For further reading refer to these articles:

Enterprise Mobile Support
One of the easiest traps to fall into is to leave support to the end of the journey. It's important that support and supportability requirements are baked into the business case. Supporting mobile applications and hardware has a couple of added complexities that traditional desktop support may not have to contend with:
  • Unreliable communications
  • Bleeding edge technology
  • Frequent change
  • BYOD
  • Many layered fault determination
If you have considered support up front then hopefully you have a solution that includes tools to empower your users and the support team. Finally a couple of points on the importance of baking Change Management into the entire journey. From an IT sense consider how to handle software/hardware updates and the impact of change to other systems. From a business perspective consider the people, the process, and how mobility changes the game.