Monday, May 10, 2010

Enterprise Mobility and SAP's McDermott on the Role of a CIO

I read an interesting interview with SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott today in InformationWeek called Global CIO: Even Oracle and SAP Agree: The Tactical CIO Is Dead.  In the article McDermott is quoted as saying, "I have to say that with respect to CIOs, we have tremendous respect for them and their management and IT overall—but the business world has reached the point where if [the CIO] can't have a conversation that goes way beyond technology stacks to roadmapping business strategies and creating growth, those CIOs are just not gonna be relevant."  He then added, "For any IT project, hitting budget is okay and finishing on time is okay but what decision-makers really want is value--they want to know that these IT projects are going to steadily increase the company's ability to grow."

As an SAP Mentor with an enterprise mobility focus, I always consider the implications for SAP enterprise mobility when I read statements like McDermott's above.  I can see many implications of his comments.  I mentioned in an article last week the idea of a "me too" mobile application.  These applications will only help you keep up with your competitors, but are not going to provide you with competitive advantages.  Competitive advantages come from thinking ahead of the adoption curve and finding new ways to create value by using new and existing technologies.

CIOs need to understand enterprise mobility, and recognize that up to 40 percent of the workforce (according to a recent survey) is considered mobile.  What additional value can you bring to your company by mobilizing these workers?  Here are some ideas for CIOs:
  • Integrate business intelligence with geospatially aware mobile applications and put them in the hands of your customer facing teams.
  • Use real-time business data and business intelligence to provide just in time advice to onsite sales teams.
  • Implement a network-centric approach that collects real-time business data from all data sources to provide a comprehensive view of your customers' business ecosystem and push it out to your mobile sales and service force.  Provide actionable intelligence and advice that can be used immediately to produce more sales and happier customers.
  • Integrate video and audio training into your mobile applications to provide a consistent high quality product and service.
  • Integrate social networking technologies and strategies into mobile applications that enable your company experts to be easily available to the mobile workforce.  Leverage your experts at the point of work in a scalable manner.  Reduce the amount of time wasted waiting for answers from your experts.
  • Put business process diagrams on the mobile device so mobile workers can understand and view the role they play in the process.  Animate the business process diagram so mobile workers can view the progress of approvals, orders, shipments, etc.  Make the mobile worker feel part of the process not a lonely outpost guardian.
  • Provide mobile views of transactional content.  This is content associated with a business transaction.  Show status of orders, shipments, GPS locations of products, delivery schedules, etc., in a comprehensive view on a mobile device.  Think of the time it would take the sales team to track all of this information down.  Anticipate the sales team's needs and push it out to them one hour in advance of a customer meeting.
  • Identify all administration processes, whether paper-based or those requiring online connectivity, that uses up your mobile workforces' productive selling and service time.  Consider mobilizing these processes with mobile micro-applications from SAP partners Vivido Labs, Leapfactor or Sky Technologies so more administrative tasks can be completed during non-productive times.  The result should be the ability to be more effective and efficient.
  • Identify transactional content events that your mobile workforce should know about to make them more productive and effective.  Push this information out to the mobile workforce in the appropriate context so actions and reactions can be instigated.
As McDermott said, CIOs must look beyond IT project management to adding company value and growth.  There is huge potential for both growth and value in enterprise mobility.  The value is not necessarily realized just from new technologies, but the leveraging of existing technologies and systems and then extending them into mobile environments in time sensitive, contextually appropriate and geospatially aware manners.


Kevin Benedict
SAP Mentor, Mobile Industry Analyst, Founder/CEO Netcentric Strategies LLC
Author of the report Enterprise Mobile Data Solutions, 2009
Mobile Strategy Consultant and Web 2.0 Marketing Services
***Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility consultant and Web 2.0 marketing expert. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.