Developing a mobile enterprise strategy is one thing; implementing it successfully is another thing entirely. Indeed, while many enterprises are clearly awakening to the massive benefits that mobile enablement offers, many seem to be struggling with exactly how to move from strategy to reality.
In part, this is because most organizations are burdened by the technology status quo: complex legacy systems, disparate software platforms, fixed assets and costly infrastructure all conspire to slow mobile adoption and create complexity. But while many people – both inside and outside of the IT department – believe that mobile enablement is, first and foremost, a technology problem, the reality is much more complex.
For one, process and culture change are key. As I travel around Asia talking to executives about their mobile strategy, I am frequently struck by the fact that few – if any – have fully anticipated the need for cultural and process change as a prerequisite to mobile success.
So while the choice of technology and selection of software is certainly an important decision in the mobile evolution roadmap, in my opinion, executives would be much better served by focusing their efforts on creating the right culture and catalyzing internal change rather than getting bogged down in vendor and platform selection decisions.
In fact, in today’s marketplace, the reality is that many of these 'pure technology' integration challenges can rather easily be solved by the vendors themselves, many of whom have been working diligently to transform themselves into mobile integrators: SAP, Oracle, Microsoft and others are all rebranding themselves as mobile enterprise enablers.
And with projections that a new 'Mobile Backend-as-a-service' market may be worth some USD7.7 billion by 20171 , it is not surprising that legions of smaller and newer vendors have developed somewhat compelling integration or ‘middleware’ solutions aimed at capturing this market.
So if technology is not the problem, what is? For many organizations, it is a matter of skill set and resources. In my experience, mobile strategies are – more often than not – developed with little real understanding of whether the organization is either capable or prepared to execute the strategy. Few have undertaken a thorough assessment of what processes and operational models must be changed, terminated or created to achieve their objectives; fewer still have a strong understanding of their internal capabilities and capacity for change.
In their quarterly evaluation of enterprise mobility services providers, Forrester notes that companies are increasingly starting to recognize that they need help with their enterprise mobility strategy and are therefore turning to mobility service providers to help design, develop and support their mobile applications2. Mobile operators have much to gain too: Exact Ventures (an analyst firm focused on technology market intelligence) predicts that enterprise mobility services may grow into a USD100 billion for US and Western European operators alone3.
I'll be the first to admit that mobile transformation can be an exceedingly complex and challenging project to undertake. But – with the right approach and preparation – it is certainly manageable. When we work with our clients to develop mobile strategies, we always try to simplify the process down to three key questions: Where are you now, where do you want to go and how do you want to get there.
Knowing where you are now requires a deep understanding and assessment of not only an organization’s technology assets and environment, but also the processes and culture that underpin it. Identifying where you want to go demands executives and business leaders have a strong vision for the future and clear insight into how mobile will enable the organization to achieve that vision.
The trick is to then develop a roadmap that effectively overlays the required cultural, process and technology changes against the capabilities and capacity of the organization in order to create a step-by-step plan of action for transformation.
Then all that remains is to get started.
By Egidio Zarrella, KPMG in China