Reintroducing Enterprise Mobile Innovation by Removing the Shackles of Corporate Life

Enterprise mobile has been around for a few years in the mainstream and we thought it a valuable insight into how enterprises have reacted and what is being done about it.

Much like a Formula 1 car coming into pit lane, the speed restrictor has come on suddenly. In many cases we are seeing, enterprise mobile is that Formula 1 car.

No more bypassing infrastructure build queues, potentially exposing the organisation to the world without the tea lady signing off or creating undue stress on those who haven't had their morning coffee. The gate to the pen has been locked!

Don't get me wrong, process has a place, but has enterprise mobile become a victim of its own success?

Too often as a business we are sat across a table discussing enterprise mobility solutions where terms such as 'frustration', 'wish' and 'if only' are thrown into the mix. Sometimes a skeletal team remains from the hay days, and other times the team didnã??t formally exist and the staff have retreated back to their previous roles.

So how are businesses addressing this?

1. Like the Ostrich, put the head in the sand - Not a good idea and leaves multiple teams fighting over the enterprise mobile mantle, with the business balanced precariously by 3G. Underpinning this can be a fear of failure, but more often there is so much noise that IT or the business simply doesn't know what to do.

2. Run an innovation campaign, centred on apps and mobile - Most big businesses we meet with like to foster some kind of innovation, so leveraging that channel for mobile isnã??t a bad idea. The key here is ensuring that after the tidal wave of mobile ideas, some rigor is applied in validating assumptions before the final few are analysed with a view to building a business case. Low hanging fruit can often emerge here which either pacifies a group of users or provides a stepping stone to a larger piece of mobile work.

3. Build a team - Recruiting stakeholders from across business units can work very well particularly if the employees are driven and well respected by their peers, along with having a deep knowledge of their respective business function. The challenge here can be that the roles are often not full time, and competing priorities emerge with the employee's daily duties.

4. Go externally and talk to the customers - A really good PR exercise can emerge from this if handled well. It comes with greater risk but potentially greater reward. Find out what your paying customer wants.

A combination of points 2, 3 and 4 are the right ones to pursue; just not point 1. The key to success is getting the balance between adhering to business process but having enough free rein to innovate and disrupt. So, how to reintroduce innovation within enterprise mobility:

- Why has enterprise mobile stalled? - Where is the bottleneck? Is it a business function, is it a team, is it a person or a process, is there an inherent fear of failure? How about a wider strategy piece or dependant project? Accurate identification of the problems, will enable the following steps to be tackled head on.
- What is the budget? - Can enterprise mobility be reinvigorated on existing Opex, or does it need to be planned for in Capex. Don't wait too long though:.
- Where are the strongest players? - Who can and want to make a difference from within the enterprise? These need to be drawn from across all business functions and IT, not exclusively one or the other. Consider running a competition and advertising on the Intranet. There could be that closet mobile girl or guy, who hasn't yet had the opportunity but writes code of an evening. Are these full time or part time roles?
- Build the team and strengthen the relationship within - This team will likely have full time roles already, so endorsement from their management may be required. Keep the team small enough to make decisions quickly, but large enough to have a view across the business.
- Promote the team through the business - A cultural change could well be required. Give the team a name and introduce them in their new capacity to the key staff members in the business who they may be required to call on in the event of future bottlenecks.
- Go out and meet the business - The team needs to meet with other teams in the business and in IT for this to be an enterprise-wide change.
- Milestones and deliverables defined - These could start by simply reviewing existing suggestions from an innovation campaign, or to have two of those suggestions at a demonstrateable stage by a given date. A great developer is of limited use if they run on their own time zone.
- Removal of barriers to entry back into the business - Having built the team, it is of little use if they hit resistance at each contact point back with the business. Booking resources to build infrastructure that requires a three month lead time and not being able to access developers for six months merely adds to the problem we are trying to address. These all need to be reduced, within reason. They could be done via engaging third parties or having a dedicated resource in each of the required IT teams available to assist at short notice.
- Pressure to perform - If the newly built team are to be given opportunities and immediate access to key IT and business teams, pressure to perform needs to be there. When constructing the team, this should be considered. Have they got experience in performing under pressure and a track record of successful delivery?
- Remember, enterprise mobile must solve a problem - The spread across the team of resources will ensure that exposure to problems is maximised and perceptions of the team are optimised. Who likes a team visiting another team telling them how to do their job better? Mobile is no different. Closely reviewing innovation ideas is important, as is validating assumptions.

IF the right combination has been selected, the fruits will start to bare through natural progression, hunger and engagement. If not, minor adjustments to some of the above steps may be required to achieve the correct balance.

Utilising just the above steps could take 3 months, but the takeaway note is that once a pseudo steering committee from across the business is formed, engagement is more forthcoming and demand for enterprise mobility is stronger and more organised.

This article was written by Alan King, Chief Mobile Officer, Dusk Mobile Pty Ltd.