Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mobile Commerce, Speed, Operational Tempos and the Real-Time Enterprise, Part 2

This article is part 2 in a series I wrote and published in an intelligence and defense industry trade journal.  You can read Part 1 and Part 3 here.

Operational Tempos and Mobility

Supporting real-time mobility is more than just a technology issue. It also requires companies to support real-time operational tempos. An operational tempo, in the context of this article, is defined as the speed or pace of business operations. Achieving a satisfactory operational tempo in order to support real-time mobility is a significant challenge and extends far beyond the IT environment and deep into decision-making and business processes.

Changing an enterprise’s operational tempo requires strong leadership that can transform the entire organization. It often requires significant IT updates and upgrades, organizational changes, and reengineering business processes and decision-making matrixes to align with real-time demands.
The military strategist and U.S. Air Force Colonel John Boyd taught that in order to win or gain superiority over an opponent, one should operate at a faster tempo than the opponent. Today competition is increasingly around the quality of mobile users’ experiences, data management, integrated IT systems, and the speed with which data can be collected, analyzed, and utilized. Robert Leonhard in the book The Art of Maneuver writes on the role of tempo and speed, “If I can develop and pursue my plan to defeat you faster than you can execute your plan to defeat me, then your plan is unimportant.” The words “faster than you can execute” in Leonhard’s context refer to the tempo of operations.

In a fast changing world, mobile applications are competing for users and acceptance against the
status quo (traditional paper or desktop processes) and competitors’ apps. In order for organizations to be successful, they must deliver mobile applications that will meet the expectations of mobile users. A key component of a good mobile user experience, as we previously identified, is the speed with which it can load and respond to clicks, swipes, taps, commands, and queries. When asked in a survey how significant speed is to a user’s overall mobile application experience, 80 percent answered “very important."

Contextually Relevant Mobile Apps

It is well known that the more personalized and contextually relevant a mobile application or website is to the user, the more successful it will be at delivering a good user experience. Mobile apps and websites by their very nature are used on the move. That means the context in which a mobile device is being used changes rapidly. This data can be about locations, time, activities, history, and behaviors. This important data must quickly be collected, analyzed, and consumed by the mobile application fast enough to personalize the user’s experience before the context changes. Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work calls this Code Halos.  This refers to all the data about a person, object, or organization that can be used to personalize and contextualize a mobile and digital experience.

The data required to personalize and contextualize an experience takes time to process and utilize. It often requires many different integrated IT systems. It needs to be captured, transmitted, analyzed, and shared in real time with the mobile application and used to personalize the user experience. The speed with which all of these steps can be executed is important. No matter how great a mobile application’s design, delays in retrieving or interacting with back-office business or IT systems equate to negative user experiences. This is true for business-to-business, business-to-employee, or business-to-consumer mobile applications. In order to be successful, IT systems must operate at speeds quick enough to satisfy all of these different categories of mobile users. This requires a serious review of every IT, operational, and business process component that ultimately impacts the speed of mobile applications.

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Kevin Benedict
Writer, Speaker, Senior Analyst
Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.