A Mobile-First Strategy Can Reimagine Business

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print
A Mobile-First Strategy

Enterprises that adopt a mobile-first strategy can achieve transformative results, including improvements in customer loyalty, market share and productivity.

Waste Management, which began migrating to an Aruba wireless network in mid-2015, is upgrading legacy wireless infrastructure and replacing legacy wired infrastructure at its corporate campus. It relies on Aruba Wave 2 802.11ac access points, as well as Cisco switches and other Aruba components, including its ClearPass Policy Manager and AirWave for network management. A major advantage of the technology platform is that mobile devices do not necessarily connect to the nearest access point. Instead, they find the best association with the specific device.

As a result, "We have advanced from poor and dropped connections to an extremely robust network with superior performance," Roy reports. "We are able to support devices and mobile initiatives far better than in the past, and with a high level of security."

Mobile Apps, Development and Microservices

A mobile-first approach can take many shapes and forms, Accenture's Kabra says. One of the key areas focuses on apps and app development.

Many organizations are moving from mobile browser interfaces to dedicated apps, but it's important to avoid app glut and ensure that any app delivers a robust user interface and experience that includes responsive design. This means tapping the technology built into mobile devices—such as cameras, scanning capabilities, geolocation, audio, speech recognition, biometrics and more—to cut through tedious tasks and introduce efficiency gains.

Some organizations are also focusing on microservices that sidestep traditional IT platforms and approaches. "We are moving to minimal interfaces, and we will eventually reach a screenless user experience," Kabra says.

Capgemini's Fross advises organizations and their IT departments to think beyond the basic definition of mobile-first: to build a site or service for a mobile device first and then scale up to a regular Web browser running on a 14-to-20-inch screen.

"More than 50 percent of organizations in North America have dedicated mobile development teams," he says. "They are making the pivot to mobile, and they increasingly understand the need for an agile development and deployment framework." However, "It's important to keep in mind that mobile is simply the connection point for digital communication and interaction."

This means thinking through business needs and opportunities and understanding where value lies. It encompasses technologies and processes as diverse as beacons, RFID, social media, waterfall development and A/B testing. And it translates into thinking about emerging technologies—such as Google Glass and other wearables, including smart clothing and watches—and understanding how to build apps and interfaces that tap into their strengths.

As Fross puts it: "While some of these technologies are still a few years away from mainstream adoption, it's important to remember that mobility isn't just a smartphone and a wireless connection. It's a disruptive technology that can break down silos and introduce new efficiencies. It can put data into play in new and innovative ways. It takes an orchestrated effort to build an integrated digital-first organization."

For now, experts say, business and IT leaders should focus on building internal and external partnerships that maximize mobile opportunities and develop internal skill sets and collaboration frameworks that lead to effective app development. They also should focus on building a robust and secure IT infrastructure that fully supports mobile interaction, including the use of BYOD and mobile-first security.

"When organizations use mobile technology effectively and adopt a mobile-first approach,” Accenture's Kabra says, "it's possible to drive innovation and achieve transformative results."

This article was originally published on 2016-05-26
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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