‘Progress, Not Perfection’: Q&A With Kony’s CEO Tom Hogan




The enterprise mobility landscape has broadened each year, as more and more companies go mobile-first, and even mobile-only. But behind those workflows and processes is a backbone completely paramount to the entire existence of mobile devices in the business space: applications. Whether those apps are a step toward mobilizing legacy systems or creating entirely new functionalities, the future of enterprise mobility lies solely in the software that enables it.

In Enterprise Mobility Exchange’s ongoing monthly column, Sit Down With The CEO, we caught up with Kony’s Tom Hogan about the state of the mobile enterprise, and how applications are transforming business-critical workflows. The following is a question and answer session between EME and Hogan.

Enterprise Mobility Exchange:
Now that 40% of enterprises consider themselves “mobile-first,” how important is the app development landscape when it comes to providing proper design and guidance for the future of enterprise mobility?
Tom Hogan:
Mobile remains a critical investment as it is making a huge impact in our businesses and personal lives. Releasing any IT system that doesn’t have a mobile interface would be a non-starter by the user community.  Mobile hasn’t gone away or diminished in importance, but rather it’s now part of a broader range of experiences with omnichannel.

Consumers use smartphones, tablets, and desktops to do nearly everything, and they expect businesses to provide their services through all digital channels, including web and mobile. Driven by this consumer expectation, many companies are now facing the challenge of how they can deliver seamless, differentiated digital experiences consistently across all channels. 

But incorporating omnichannel digital strategies properly requires a thoughtful approach to app development. It often requires the enterprise to create a close link between line-of-business (LOB) and IT. When the app development process works as a collaborative effort between LOB, IT and developers (not to mention user input), companies deliver omnichannel digital experiences that attract, retain and “wow” customers. 

EME: Mobile security is paramount when it comes to the success of enterprise mobility. As organizations deploy dozens, sometimes hundreds of mobile applications, how should IT administrators approach the scope of application management, as compared to device management or containerization? 
TH: The seriousness of security and mobile data breach cannot be overstated. When business data is leaked by a flawed app, the potential cost is incalculable.

Increasingly, app development within enterprises is being done by “citizen developers” – business line employees who create apps using approved tools but outside the traditional IT process – to keep up with the demand of apps. Unfortunately, far too many of them have an insufficient understanding of what needs to be done to protect their data. In addition, some companies outsource their app development to agencies and systems integrator developers, which can create a risk for enterprises to apply security practices consistently and comprehensively. 

The goal is make security “invisible”, in other words, security is done implicitly by the app development platform, rather than depending upon developers to code correctly.

EME: From your perspective, how should CIOs and IT directors wrap their hands around enterprise mobility? What’s the best starting point from a strategy stance?
TH: The first thing CIOs and IT directors need to realize as they embark on their first app project is it’s about “progress not perfection.” In the digital world, it’s better to get the first app and then keep updating and enhancing in an agile fashion based upon user feedback and market opportunities. Your first app most certainly will not be your last. And as you start to deliver, expect demands from the business to balloon, with multiple divisions requesting new features or entirely new apps.

As a result, even if your ambitions are modest at first, it’s important to choose tools and processes that will enable you to scale and grow your success into the future. It is essential to have the right technology and approach to keep pace with the speed of digital innovation, beyond the limited scope of the projects you may envision in the beginning.

EME: How are emerging technologies – AI, AR, IoT, etc. – going to impact the mobile application space for businesses? Are app companies hearing practitioners say it’s time to enhance mobile applications with machine learning and artificial intelligence?
TH: Emerging technologies such as chatbots, augmented reality and speech-driven apps like those for Amazon Alexa and Google Home are quickly transitioning from bleeding edge to leading edge to mainstream. In 2018, we can expect these technologies to be practical demands from consumers, meaning more businesses will need to ensure they are implemented into their application platforms.

We’ve already started to see chatbots integrated into different industries like retail banking. What once started as a cool niche feature will become the norm, like the ability to connect to artificially intelligent customer service representatives on our mobile or connected devices to check account balances, report lost cards, and many other features that may not exist in the conventional user interface.

We’re also experimenting with AR and how its use within mobile applications can provide real value for a range of industries like retail, manufacturing, utilities, transportation and banking. For example, what if engineers could see informational overlays on mechanical or electrical equipment, travelers could see visual displays at airports or banks could use augmented reality to direct customers to key service areas and dynamically show the names and specialty areas of the branch staff – the applications are endless.  

EME: Thanks so much for your insight, Tom. Any closing thoughts?
TH:
The impact of digital innovation is huge. Especially for businesses in the banking, healthcare, retail and energy industries. With the fast pace of digital innovation, it is critical for organizations to make the necessary investments to improve processes and technology, and increase business agility.

Until now, companies have taken an inside-out approach to the customer experience. In other words, they start with a legacy application and push it out to the consumer. However, many of these legacy apps are designed around the functionality in the system of record instead of the ideal customer journey. In today’s digital era, providing a seamless digital experience across all channels is essential to meet customer expectations. These trends are driving businesses to make digital transformation a top priority, and they are looking for innovative technology partners to help guide and enable digital transformation. The key is to do it now and invest in new digital technology to stay ahead and deliver great customer experiences.

To see January’s Sit Down With The CEO, read our one-on-one with TechOrchard’s Phil Poje here

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