Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Evolutionary Phases of Enterprise Mobility

I have had several opportunities to visit with large enterprises about their mobility strategies lately.  It is interesting watching and learning how large companies go about mobilizing business processes.  As a result of these discussions and experiences, I propose that there are at least six phases of this evolutionary process.  Let me know your thoughts as well!

I believe that phase one of an enterprise mobility strategy is to recognize the need to mobilize enterprise solutions.  Enterprise mobility is not a fad.  It is strategic and mission critical.  Mobile browsing is predicted to surpass all other forms of internet connectivity within the next year or two.  I have seen reports that over 40 percent of the workforce is mobile.  Giving them access to the right information, at the right time and at the right place to do their job is critical.  Everyone has a smartphone these days.  They are indepensable tools for the mobile workforce.

Phase two of your mobile strategy is to start mobilizing basic items like business process notifications, approvals and alerts.  These simple mobile "instant value" applications are a good first step to mobilizing your workforce and showing immediate value.  My mobile ESPN application sends me the scores of my favorite teams.  This is an example of a simple notification solution.  This phase helps your mobile workforce to ease into using their mobile devices for business purposes and ERP interactions.  Study the results, understand the challenges and use this information to prepare for more complex mobile solutions.

Phase three of your mobile strategy is to aggregate what you have learned about mobility and define an enterprise strategy.  Recognize the need for standardization in the following areas:
  1. Mobile device management and security.
  2. Decide who is liable for the mobile device, the data plans and manage the costs.
  3. Decide which mobile operating systems your IT organization should support and prioritize.
  4. Define policies for granting mobile access to various business solutions.
  5. Select and implement a mobile enterprise application platform (this platform is very important).
  6. Define integration methodologies.
  7. Define selection criteria for off the shelf mobile applications to ensure they support your standards.
  8. Decide which business units cover the costs of mobilizing various business solutions.
I propose that phase four is the creation of a strategic roadmap.  Just because you have the right tools does not mean you have developed anything worthwhile. Companies need to understand the full capabilities what they have.  They need to have a vision, a plan and a roadmap.  They need to see what others have done so they can expand their understanding of the possible.  Providing a vision of what is possible is one of my key goals with this blog.  For that purpose, I have developed a one or two day workshop to help companies in this area.  You can read more about this workshop here.  In the enterprise mobility market, the tools now exist to build beautiful works of art that provide great business value. 

Phase five of enterprise mobility is all about maturity.  Combine all of the various mobility tools into a simple, standard and efficient mobility platform.  The solution should be solid, stable, documented and come with usable SDKs (software development kits).  This will enable both IT departments and systems integrators to customize existing mobile solutions and develop new ones.

Phase six of enterprise mobility will be the process of transforming and re-engineering existing business processes, that were modeled after out-dated manual and paper-based processes, into "real-time, context aware, network-centric and predictive" mobile applications.  It is in this phase that companies achieve their maximum ROIs.

This is how I see it, do you agree or disagree?


Have you read the whitepaper Networked Field ServicesThis paper explores the convergence of several different technologies including:  mobility, GPS, business intelligence and M2M (machine to machine) technologies with evolving field services management strategies. This convergence has resulted in a new “Networked Field Service” model.

Kevin Benedict, SAP Mentor, SAP Top Contributor, Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst
Phone +1 208-991-4410
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Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility consultant, mobility analyst, writer and Web 2.0 marketing professional. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.