Sunday, March 2, 2014

Resourcing Enterprise Mobility

For many organisations, and increasingly for the recruiting agencies that support them, understanding Enterprise Mobility is becoming a key focus. While Enterprise Mobility is not new, it has traditionally been the realm of specialist providers. Over many years hardware manufacturers have supplemented their sales by providing consulting services or value added software to businesses. Additionally solution integrators and niche mobile companies have provided solutions for industry. Early adopters and in particular certain industries (such as logistics and asset management) have been using enterprise mobility for many years. Often these companies have developed in-house skills through projects and support.

As the industry matures there is a shift away from point solutions. Many businesses have adopted a corporate mobile strategy with multiple mobile applications. The term “consumerisation” is often used to describe the proliferation of smart phones and app stores driving demand and innovation back into the business arena. Of course this is a double edged sword with Enterprise Mobility continuing to experience rapid change with hardware, operating systems, and applications evolving rapidly.

What is Enterprise Mobility and what are the Key Skills?

Enterprise mobility is often defined as mobile application/s with integration to back-end business systems. With this as the baseline then to resource effectively it’s useful to know the key components of Enterprise Mobility. These include:

· User Experience

· Graphic & Screen Design

· Mobile Data, Application and Service Layer

· Mobile Device Hardware & Peripherals

· Integration Layer

· Back End System/s

Along with any technology implementation there are key streams that support the project. While these are “generic” in nature there are many peculiarities when it comes to a mobile project and it’s useful to have experienced resources to cover these areas. Examples include:

· Business Process Management

· Test Management

· Architecture & Infrastructure Management

· Release & Code Management

· Security

Key Resourcing Challenges

Given the Enterprise Mobile landscape evolution it’s easy to see that the goal-posts are moving. Experience on mobile projects is sort after but not always easy to find. With mobile technology changing quickly and increasing pressure on enterprises to have an up-to-date mobile presence there is a resource supply/demand problem. The following points are some key challenges that should be considered:

· For recruiters to be effective it’s useful to have a breakdown of the technical components and/or architecture in use. In the changing landscape there are many mergers and acquisitions so it’s not uncommon to find a vendor solution made up of disparate components.

· Along with the technology challenges an additional complexity often overlooked is geography. At a given point in time each geographic region may have different consumer trends, technologies, manufacturers, and standards. This can add to the difficulties when attempting to source key resources.

· Another key challenge is the variety of technology used in the mobile landscape. Take development skills as an example. For some projects .Net is required and in others it will be Java, HTML5, CSS, JSP, or Objective C (to name a few). Increasingly with mobile platform use becoming more popular it may be necessary to have skills in a vendor specific toolkit. For some organisations they may need skills in all the listed examples!

· For Solution Integrators and other companies with a skilled resource pool keeping them up-to-date on changing technology is complicated. Investing in sensible training is important for any organisation, however deciding on which technology to target requires a crystal ball.

· When it comes to mobile applications most people focus on the developer skill-sets, however understanding the intricacies of mobility as it impacts methodology, testing, quality assurance, and architecture are equally important to the success of any mobile project.

Resourcing Strategies

Finding great resources for Enterprise Mobility is certainly not all doom and gloom. Often while underlying technologies are changing much of the skills are transferable. This approach is commonly used in the development space where in-house skills may have been built up in a particular software language. Once an organisation begins to leverage a new technology it is often prudent to retrain resources. Of course this approach needs to be managed carefully to ensure the required standards are met on the next project. To mitigate this risk experienced management/leads along with quality assurance, code management, and principles can be applied. In addition to retraining existing resources the following points are worth considering to help make resourcing smoother:

· Given both the technical complexities and the changing landscape a standard resume search may not yield the right candidates. It’s imperative that recruiters understand the technology components and the resourcing approach along with required skills and the ability to retrain/mentor and guide people with similar/complimentary skills.

· Shifts in the market often bring opportunities to leverage a surplus of complementary skills. For example with companies like Nokia and Blackberry there was a shift in relative market share. Whenever there is a acquisition there are often good employees looking for their next opportunity.

· Consider the global pool and that with the correct governance approach a blended team of onsite and offshore can work effectively. It is important that appropriate measures (standards, communication, reporting, etc.) are put in place to manage outcomes.

· Many companies cycle between in-house and outsourced specialist skills. There are good arguments on both sides. To be effective ensure that appropriate thought is put into the model, especially when changing from one style to the other.

Especially in the area of Enterprise Mobility where often skills are in short supply. It may pay to source based on softer factors. For example attitude, integrity, willingness to work, intelligence, and fit to the specific working environment. Anyone can run a query of key words across linked-in or a resume database. To find the right people it’s important to understand the requirements, the technology stack, the resourcing model, and the potential candidate.

(This article was originally published on Enterprise Mobility Network