Mobile Technology Transforms BusinessBy Samuel Greengard | Posted 2012-11-14 Email Print
Corporate mobility is no longer an option. It's an absolute necessity, and an organization must have a well-defined strategy in place.
By Samuel Greengard
Over the last few years, mobility has morphed from a broad concept into a mainstream enterprise tool that drives bottom-line results. Today, it's difficult to spot a business that hasn't been affected by the growing wave of devices and apps that customers, partners and employees demand. "
The adoption rate for mobility is occurring at warp speed," observes Jim Guinn, a managing director at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
The evidence is everywhere. Businesses increasingly connect to customers and partners through mobile devices. The technology is transforming the way organizations handle marketing, sales and support; social media and geolocation data are emerging as critical elements in big data and analytics initiatives; and employees rely on smartphones and tablets to take a dizzying array of functions into the field.
A September 2012 PwC report, "Seizing the Mobility Moment," notes that consumerization and the rapid proliferation of mobile technologies have blurred the edge of the enterprise. Corporate mobility is no longer an option. It's an absolute necessity, and an organization must have a well-defined strategy in place, PwC warns.
According to Tata Consultancy Services, U.S. companies spend, on average, $1.43 million annually responding to the digital mobile consumer. This number is expected to increase to $1.98 million by 2015.
Coping with the mainstream adoption and widespread use of mobile technology is unavoidable. How can an organization build an effective strategy? How can the business and IT sides of a company work together to create systems and applications that function in the real world? And what does it take to keep up with a rapidly changing mobile landscape?
"Mobility is now at the core of the enterprise," says PwC's Guinn. "It is impacting virtually every aspect of the business."
A Mobile Playbook Emerges
Although enterprise mobility has existed for more than a quarter of a century, the emergence of smartphones and tablets over the last few years has altered the equation in profound ways. Consumer devices such as Apple's iPhone and iPad have changed the public perception about how companies interact with customers. Moreover, users now expect--perhaps demand is a more accurate word--a consumer-like experience when tapping into enterprise sites and applications.
Make no mistake, consumerization and bring your own device (BYOD) thinking are at the center of today's business environment. The power of the technology, Guinn says, is that it "enables people to make decisions quicker and do things more rapidly. It creates the potential for a more efficient business model."
Adds Andrew Borg, senior analyst for wireless and mobility at Aberdeen Group: "User experience has emerged as the core of any successful mobility strategy. It's no longer possible to adopt the mentality of 'Let's throw it at them and see what sticks.'"
One organization that recognizes this new normal is the NFL's Cleveland Browns. Rapidly changing business expectations, as well as a need to operate faster and better, meant that the organization couldn't punt on mobility.
As a result, the team's sales staff has turned to a secure mobile file management (MFM) system from GroupLogic, mobilEcho, to take advertising and ticket sales into the field. It's possible to view availability for radio and TV advertising spots, as well as tickets, in real time using an iPad or other device connected via a secure VPN.
Brandon Covert, director of information technology for the Browns, says that the use of iPads and real-time mobility has been a game changer. "Sales staff no longer carry around papers and scramble to keep up with changes," he says. "There's no latency to the business. They have all the information in front of them at all times, and they can interact with clients without any delay."
What's more, the system provides instant reporting capabilities for management. "We can run a statistics report every morning and see what tickets and ads were sold the previous day," he adds. The next step is a live dashboard displaying sales data in near-real time.
Covert says that the organization originally eyed file exchange services such as Dropbox or SugarSync, but it veered away from them because the Brown's needed something more automated, collaborative and secure. The mobilEcho system allows staff to sync their iPads to a SharePoint server within seconds using SSL over WiFi or a cellular connection.The system also provides offline capabilities with automated syncing once a network is available.
The organization is now looking at putting its playbooks on iPads and creating apps and services for other groups. "Mobile technology allows us to be more productive and cultivate a more innovative image for fans and clients," Covert explains.