Tips to Drive Momentum for your Mobile Enterprise
With Mozilla perhaps Ubuntu entering the mobile device market and even wearable technology on the horizon, IT Departments are having a tough time making sound decisions. While the iOS app store reached 900,000 apps last June, IT Departments still struggle to provide you with functionality fast. These decision framework tips may help to speed up that process.
Adopt consumerisation in your Enterprise
SAP's acknowledgement that their user interface is not "mobile-worthy" marks the end of an era. No longer can enterprise software producers defend such a big gap between their average user experience and that of consumer mobile apps. Neither can they defend the enormous difference in speed of app-development between the consumer and business markets: not allowing an ecosystem of developers to build on your platform or keeping your interfaces secret as part of your lock-in game have become an unviable strategy.
Organisations learn from the consumer market and want better functionality faster! They also want an improved user experience and a lower TCO, just like the consumer market: if the functionality or the experience is below expectation, they want to be able to easily dispose of the software at low cost and move on to another offering.
Make the market work for you
Your IT Department, which most likely operated as a cost-center, may actually be good at what they are "trained" to do: deliver IT at a budget. To do so, they may provide you with all sorts of products and services like personal computers, phones, desktop software, enterprise software and so on. Anything they stop providing you with may be removed from their next year's budget. However, due to the consumer experiences of your staff, the call for more functionality faster becomes louder. This forces your IT Department into a split: more functionality, more operating systems to cater for, more screen formats and more software to manage and an IT landscape that has become increasingly complex overtime.
(Picture 1: Complexity of your IT Landscape grows over time, source: Sogeti)
Enterprise applications have not been designed with large ecosystems of software developing companies or short software production cycles in mind. Yet, software is being developed to provide mobile functionality to the Enterprise by both employees and professional developers alike and this functionality may extend traditional Enterprise applications, enhance office productivity or be a simple stand-alone app.
How can we make use of all these developments and not end up with a split that is even bigger than the one we were in before or put our legacy systems and processes at risk? Enter a little decision framework.
Suppose we have an IT landscape which allows us to safely connect to our enterprise system's interfaces. The more widespread our enterprise systems are, the bigger the odds that some market party or individual will create mobile functionality for it. The more plain vanilla our implementation of this enterprise system is, the easier we can deploy this mobile functionality.
So, how to decide on the processes to use non-enterprise grade software - comparable to consumer apps - and which processes require enterprise grade solutions (and hence more involvement of our IT Departments)?
Here are two dimensions you can consider:
Market Dynamics: Look to the level of competition in the market for the specific type of mobile functionality you require. Are there many offerings? Is there a big number of new entrants? Do new versions arrive fast and is pricing competitive?
Level of Control: Does the process have the possibility of exposing your organisation to serious risk? Does it have to be auditable? Is transactional or referential integrity required for each and every process step and is privacy or confidentiality a concern?
In a dynamic market and for functionality that requires little or no control, using apps from the market will always be faster than using Enterprise application platforms. This may be shredder ware: use once, then throw away. It may perfectly lend itself to a Bring your own software concept.
In a dynamic market where functionality requires more control during a decision, potential uncertainty regarding this control has to be addressed. Hence the decision should be based on risk versus reward.
In a non-dynamic market where functionality requires higher control, cost starts to be more of the essence as Enterprise platforms are generally more expensive than consumer like apps. If there is little choice out there and your requirements are high, then creating synergies in your existing platform may be more viable than introducing a new "near-platform".
Functionality that requires a high level of control and that lacks a dynamic market should simply be dealt with in your Enterprise platform.
Considering Market Dynamics and Level of Control for the mobile functionality you need will help you to make quick and clean decisions: use the speed and low cost of market developments where you can and Enterprise platforms only where necessary. It will speed up functionality delivery and save a bundle.
Written by Michel De Goede, Strategy Consultant / Enterprise Architect, Alliander
Michel de Goede has been in general and IT consulting for more than 30 years and has built a serious track record of advising, transforming, reorganizing or automating organizations. The many assignments have helped Michel in developing the sharp analytical mind that lets him break down any business problem in no time. Michel has been a Strategy Consultant / Enterprise Architect with Alliander for about 5 years. Michel holds an international MBA from the Rotterdam School of Management Erasmus University and has been involved in Enterprise mobility for several years now strategizing and architecting for a wide variety of user groups and different scenarios.