Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mobile Data as a Competitive Advantage

The success of companies today is less dependent on their physical assets, and more dependent on their ability to competitively utilize data.  Just think of companies like Kodak, Borders, Blockbuster, etc., that had great physical assets but could not effectively make the transition into the data driven digital era.  In the new whitepaper Code Rules: A Playbook for Managing at the Crossroads, the authors Malcolm Frank, Ben Pring and Paul Roehrig provide examples of this theory and recommendations for supporting it.  

This theory resonates with me.  I speak weekly with service companies that want to support a real-time environment that will provide situational awareness of all field operations, but their IT infrastructures are not capable of supporting a real-time environment.  This is a problem as it prevents effective use of data which limits their competitiveness.

Let's image a scenario as follows - two service companies are competing for a large industrial HVAC (heating, ventilation, air, condition) contract.  Company A can commit to an eight hour SLA (service level agreement) to be onsite for repairs.  Company B can commit to a two hour SLA.  Which company has a competitive advantage?

Company B has full and real-time situational awareness of the location, job status and qualifications of all of their employees and resources and can quickly and dynamically change their assignments and schedules and get them to the point of need.  Company B has a better "logistics of information" system which results in a competitive advantage.

Think about what it takes to support a real-time environment.  It requires a different kind of IT architecture and infrastructure than many companies have today.  It would be a mistake to think this is an enterprise mobility problem.  It is a company problem.  Today, real-time data is everything.  It is not enough to only review end of quarter numbers.  If there are problems in your processes or operations, they should be recognized and fixed as they happen.


There is a saying I read the other day that I really like, "If your customers are adopting technology at a faster rate than you are supporting it, you are opening up an opportunity for your competitors."

Service companies need to recognize there are important sources of data (code halos) around at least five specific areas that should be properly managed and utilized:
  • Customers
  • Products/materials/supplies
  • Employees
  • Partners
  • Enterprises/Organizations
This data needs to be captured, processed, analyzed, reported and acted upon in real-time.  Although mobility is a key component of this, the IT infrastructure of most companies needs to be updated to support it, and management must have a business strategy in place that prioritizes the recognition and exploitation of "code halos" in all of their plans.
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Kevin Benedict, Head Analyst for Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) Cognizant
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Read the whitepaper on mobile, social, analytics and cloud strategies Don't Get SMACked
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Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and SMAC analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.