Mobility Is at the Center of Digital Business

Only a few years ago, a mobile strategy focused mostly on arming workers with phones and laptops that would allow them to call the office and work remotely from home or while on the road. File sharing was difficult, collaboration was challenging, and staying in sync as an organization was next to impossible.

However, as enterprise mobile technology has advanced and clouds have made data more accessible, organizations are learning that basic communication and collaboration, while vitally important, are only part of the picture.

“As mobile devices have evolved into powerful computers and the definition of mobility has expanded, organizations are recognizing that mobile is now at the center of a successful business strategy,” observes Abhijit Kabra, managing director at Accenture Mobility, part of consulting firm Accenture. “The leaders in the space are focused on a mobile-first strategy that connects a wide array of digital components and tools together to introduce real-time insights and greater value for the enterprise.”

To be sure, connecting all the pieces—drones, sensors, 3D printers and an array of other internet of things (IoT) applications and services—is not a simple task. Plugging in social data and crowdsourcing information can also prove daunting.

Somewhere between lofty vendor promises and industry best practices lies the real world of connecting people, devices and data in ways that expand the enterprise horizon and usher in cost savings, greater efficiency and disruptive innovation. Today, “Organizations must build mobility into everything,” says Kim Smith, chief digital officer at consulting firm Capgemini.

Making Connections With Enterprise Mobility Technology

Mobile 2.0 takes an enterprise beyond smartphones, tablets and apps. Although these tools are often at the heart of a successful enterprise initiative, identifying and creating a world-class mobile strategy requires deeper and broader thinking—as well as the right technology platform, which typically includes clouds, APIs and data storage technology such as Hadoop.

In a sense, it’s more about becoming a digital enterprise, with mobility as the glue that holds everything together, than it is about connecting over the air. “It’s important for mobile systems to be tightly integrated with the rest of the IT infrastructure—and for things such as security and privacy to be considered from the start,” Accenture’s Kabra points out.

One organization that has taken the concept to heart is Advocate Health Care, the largest medical provider in Illinois, with 400 care sites, 12 acute-care hospitals and more than 35,000 employees, including 6,300 physicians and 11,000 nurses. The organization has been named among the nation’s top 100 wired hospitals and has received other awards and recognition for digital innovation.

“The goal,” says Gary Horn, vice president of technology and chief technology officer, “is to optimize patient care and create efficiencies that allow practitioners to do their job in the best possible way.”

Advocate Health Care has turned to enterprise mobility technology to gain advantages that would have been unthinkable in the past. Doctors and nurses access electronic medical records and other data through tablets and smartphones, which replaced computers on wheels in 2014. This allows them to view and input data immediately and at the point of contact.

This has helped reduce errors that previously occurred when practitioners entered data hours later, sometimes struggling to recall details. Instant data entry—along with other passive RFID and other location-based tools—is also ushering in other improvements. For instance, the facility already has an infant abduction system in place, and it is beginning to use smart rooms that allow it to display the status of a surgical patient to staff and visitors.