Mobile Tech Creates Opportunities and Challenges

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 2015-09-22 Email Print this article Print
Mobile Tech Opportunities

The rapidly evolving state of mobile technology requires companies to think seriously about how to integrate mobility into the entire fabric of an organization.

As the digital age unfolds, it has become increasingly clear that mobility is at the center of the IT universe. Customers, employees and business partners expect to connect to enterprise data via handheld mobile devices, and the emerging Internet of things (IoT) means that data sources—and data points—are expanding at a rapid clip.

"The massive growth in mobility represents a paradigm shift," says Kim Smith, vice president of digital innovation at consulting firm Capgemini. "It's redefining the way processes take place and the way an enterprise delivers technology services to employees, partners and customers."

Navigating this rapidly evolving space and constructing a business and IT framework to support mobility is paramount. However, in order to take things to the next level, an organization must step beyond a basic voice and data mindset and think about how to integrate mobility into the entire fabric of the organization, says Nisha Sharma, managing director at Accenture Digital.

"Things are moving away from reliance on a desktop or laptop experience," she says. "They're moving to—not only a mobile-first approach—but a mobile-only strategy that delivers content, data and tools to workers no matter where they are and what device they are using."

Success, Sharma advises, requires a deep understanding of business processes and how mobile technology can fundamentally redefine the way activities take place, eliminating pain points and inefficiencies along the way. In many cases, mobility now intersects with clouds, social tools, the IoT and analytics solutions to enable a broader set of functionality and capabilities than any single initiative can deliver.

"A mobile framework enables innovative and transformation types of activities and applications," she adds. Ultimately, "The focus should be on giving workers all the tools they need to do their job no matter where they are—and, in the process, making the organization smarter, faster and more efficient."

Over the last decade, wireless technology has radically changed the face of the enterprise. Mobile apps have gone mainstream, essential data is increasingly accessible anytime and anywhere, and events and interactions take place in real time. According to Cisco Systems, more than 7.4 billion mobile devices and connections existed in 2014, and current adoption rates will put the figure at approximately 9 billion by 2017.

In fact, more than half of Internet and enterprise network traffic now involves a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device. Moreover, RFID, beacons, sensors and connected machines are redefining business processes from the supply chain to the retail shelf.

Complex Mobile Requirements

The need for a robust wireless infrastructure hasn't been lost on Cimarex Energy, a Denver petroleum exploration and production company that has about 1,000 employees and a market capitalization of about $10 billion. More than 400 employees carry mobile phones, and about 300 employees rely on laptops or tablet devices, says Rodney McPhearson, manager and lead engineer for the Enterprise Infrastructure Team.

However, the company's mobile requirements are complex. Cimarex must support mobile connectivity at office buildings in Denver, Tulsa, Okla., and Midland, Texas, as well as at drilling sites and other field locations, and for connected storage tanks. "Today, mobile technology is crucial for business," he says. "We strive to be a premier company, and technology helps us achieve our goals."

Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).

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