Thursday, June 25, 2015

Mobile Commerce, Speed, Operational Tempos and the Real-Time Enterprise, Part 3

This is part 3 in the article series.  Read part 1 and part 2 here.

The Shelf Life of Data and the Need for Speed

Today enterprises are facing a massive challenge that will require new strategies and investment. In fact, 80 percent of survey participants reported that increasing demand for mobile apps is forcing IT departments to rethink and change how they have designed IT environments.  Rethinking and changing IT environments requires investment and budget, and 83 percent believe the demand for mobile applications will force enterprises to make major investments in their IT environments to better support real-time interactions with mobile apps and to remain competitive.

Our survey reveals that real-time mobile data is critical for personalizing and optimizing the mobile user’s experience and promoting the adoption and utilization of mobile applications and websites. We have also found that organizations, IT environments, and business processes will require changes in order to support a faster operational tempo. One of the key reasons these changes are necessary is the shelf life of data. Data has greater economic value the faster it can be collected, transmitted, analyzed, consumed, and utilized. This brings us back to the speed requirement. If the mobile user can instantly be presented with a personalized and contextually relevant experience based on real-time and previously collected and analyzed data, then the user will realize the greatest value and utility.

Situational Awareness and Information Dominance

Military strategists today believe the size of opponents and their weapons platforms are less representative of military power than the quality of their sensors systems, mobile communication links, and their ability to utilize information to their advantage. We believe these same conclusions are also relevant in the commercial sector.

An enterprise’s ability to use information as a competitive advantage is central to a successful business strategy today. If a manager has the responsibility of optimizing the schedules of 5,000 service technicians during an ice storm, or routing 10,000 delivery trucks, then the faster they receive accurate data from the field - the better they can perform their jobs.

Information advantages often involve improving situational awareness — the ability to understand events and actions around you. This takes visibility and data. Visibility happens when people, mobile, and sensor data collection technologies are integrated with IT systems and processes that enable the measurement, collection, transmission, analysis, and reporting of remote activities and events. The faster this can be accomplished, the faster data-driven decisions can be made and tactics deployed.

Historically, it has been difficult to manage remote workforces due to a lack of visibility. There are too many unknowns and a lack of accountability, which forces managers to make decisions based upon conjecture, rather than on real-time data analysis. Robert L. Bateman writes in his book Digital War, “The three questions that have befuddled soldiers since the beginning of human history are:
  1. Where am I?
  2. Where are my buddies?
  3. Where is the enemy?" 
Bateman speaks to the difficulty of managing from afar. The lack of real-time visibility often means critical operational decisions and optimized scheduling choices are delayed, which results in the inefficient utilization of resources and assets. Today technologies exist to eliminate many of those operational blind spots.

Network-Centric Operations and Data Collection
The problem: Technology [used between WWI and WWII] was viewed in discrete packets as it applied to narrowly defined areas. As a result the US military did not fully develop the possible combinations of technology with tactics.” –Robert L. Bateman, Digital War
Many commercial organizations today retain the narrow view and strategy that Bateman wrote about. They continue to think about and deploy mobile and sensor technologies in line-of-business (LOB) silos. They believe in the utility of these technologies, but have no enterprise-wide strategy for combining mobile and sensor technologies with tactics to achieve an overall information advantage across the enterprise.

Modern military organizations use the term Network Centric Warfare strategies to describe an information-based strategy for winning wars. These strategies have been taught in military organizations for decades, but are less understood in the commercial sector, where these strategies can be found with names such as Network Centric Operations or Networked Field Services. Military organizations that have implemented Network Centric strategies are accustomed to using a wide range of mobile devices and sensors to create a web or grid of data collection capabilities that are all wirelessly networked together for the purpose of enhancing real-time situational awareness, organizational agility, collaboration, and decision-making. Commercial enterprises share many of the same requirements, but as our survey data shows, they have yet to adopt the necessary enterprise-wide strategies or IT systems with enough speed to support real-time interactions.

Given the importance of an information advantage, what should commercial organizations focus on in 2015 and beyond? Broadly the answers are:
  • Recognizing that information can be used as a competitive advantage
  • Recognizing the importance of achieving real-time operational tempos
  • Developing and implementing enterprise-wide network centric operational strategies
  • Utilizing mobile applications and sensors to reduce operational blind spots and improve situational awareness
  • Personalizing and contextualizing the mobile user experience using real-time data and Code Halos strategies
  • Employing artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve the speed of decision-making and the execution of tactics
An organization’s ability to be competitive now and in the future largely depends on its ability to successfully navigate the process of digital and organizational transformation to achieve an information advantage.  If you would like to brainstorm these issues and discuss your specific business environment please contact us.

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Kevin Benedict
Writer, Speaker, Senior Analyst
Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
View my profile on LinkedIn
Read more at Future of Work
Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Subscribe to Kevin'sYouTube Channel
Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility
Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies

***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.

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
View my profile on LinkedIn
Read more at Future of Work
Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Subscribe to Kevin'sYouTube Channel
Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility
Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies

***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.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Mobile Commerce, Speed, Operational Tempos and the Real-Time Enterprise, Part 1

In a recent survey of eighty IT and business professionals, 73 percent responded that having optimized mobile applications and user experiences was “very important to critical” to their company’s future success.  In the same survey however, 78 percent reported their mobile strategies and plans were inhibited or limited by their existing IT environment. These results reveal a critical gap between the requirements for success and the reality of the obstacles enterprises are facing. Overcoming these challenges is the strategic imperative facing large enterprises today.

Enterprises understand that digital transformations being driven by mobile technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) are changing their industries and markets. Consumer behaviors are changing at speeds never before seen, which impacts how businesses operate and bring products to market. These rapid changes are forcing enterprises to change their strategies in R&D, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, and sales. They are being forced to reconsider budget priorities and plans. They feel uneasiness. They are concerned with their ability to remain competitive, to understand real-time market trends, and to be agile and flexible enough to respond in time. They do know, however, that mobile technologies, sensors, and information management are at the forefront of these changes and are key components of any plans and strategies.

As organizations begin developing mobile strategies and implementing mobile apps, they quickly realize that simply developing and deploying basic mobile apps, infrastructure, and frameworks are not enough. They must push further and implement a real-time enterprise to remain competitive. This real-time requirement is at the root of many additional challenges. Eighty-four percent of survey participants reported they have IT systems too slow or incapable of supporting real-time mobility, which negatively impacts mobile app performance and user experiences.

Jonathan Gabbai, Head of International Mobile Product at eBay, recently reported almost half of eBay’s transactions globally are now touched by mobile.  Users conduct product research, create wish lists, and complete transactions using mobile applications. With so much business now depending on mobile device, application, and website performance, the user experience must be outstanding in order to be competitive. An October 2014 Harris Poll survey found that 37 percent of U.S. smartphone and tablet owners now favor mobile shopping over in-store shopping, and Google reports that 79 percent of consumers now say they use a smartphone to help with shopping.  These numbers alone should move mobile technologies up the priority list of any business.

Although an increasing number of shoppers prefer the convenience of mobile shopping, they still remain hard to please. Forty-six percent of mobile shoppers say they will leave a mobile app or mobile site if it fails to load in three seconds or less, while 80 percent will leave if the mobile app or site is buggy or slow.  Consumers’ expectations on what defines a good user experience are changing fast, but seem always to begin and end with speed.

Continue to Part 2 and Part 3 in this series.

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Kevin Benedict
Writer, Speaker, Senior Analyst
Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
View my profile on LinkedIn
Read more at Future of Work
Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Subscribe to Kevin'sYouTube Channel
Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility
Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies

***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.