Enterprise Mobility Exchange, East Coast: 5 Things We Learned

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This past week I had the opportunity to attend and participate in the Enterprise Mobility Exchange, East Coast event in Atlanta, writes Eugene Signorini, Mobile Strategist, Consultant & Thought Leader.

With around 90 enterprise end user ‘delegates’ and representatives from providers such as Zebra Technologies, Kony, Apperian and others in attendance, the Exchange is an intimate forum in which to share ideas among peers, and is representative of how mobile is both disrupting and transforming businesses across a breadth of industries.

gene signorini.jpgAs an Advisory Council member for the Exchange, I’ve had the opportunity to attend all of the North American events since their inception six years ago. What began as a forum where field service was the predominant application, and BYOD was only emerging as a catchphrase, has now evolved into a much broader discussion spanning multiple mobility topics. While there was plenty of ground covered, here are my top five take-aways:

1. Mobile user experience will be driven by ‘micro-moments’

One noticeable change in the event over the years has been the shift from core IT mobile challenges to an increasing focus on mobile user needs. Several speakers, including Forrester Research’s Tyler Shields and Quinn Banks from Farmers Insurance, emphasised that the value of mobility for end users is about identifying small, transactional ‘micro-moments’, rather than designing for big, complex business processes. While this concept isn’t groundbreaking, it was refreshing to see that many organisations are embracing it, and putting the user at the centre of their mobile strategies.

2. IoT is no longer an outlier to enterprise mobility strategies

IoT, and its immediate predecessors M2M, telematics, and telemetry, have been a topic of conversation in the mobile industry for almost 20 years. However, the IoT discussion has certainly heated up over the past two years, and for good reason. While a panel that included both Ford and Eversource reflected the old guard of M2M and telematics, the conversation spanned much further to include connected health, wearables and cloud – the new world of IoT.

3. Developers must learn to embrace security

As someone who has closely followed the Enterprise Mobility market for 20 years, there’s one thing I’ve noticed consistently: when you ask IT leaders the top barriers to mobility in their organisations, you’re sure to hear two things at the top – security and cost. Security will always be a challenge for mobility (or any business technology for that matter).

Therefore, companies must learn to move forward and innovate, while putting security best practices in place. Security was a topic in many of the discussions at the Exchange, and two keynotes and one panel were dedicated to the topic. But one thing of particular note from the ‘Security Master Class’ panel was that developers need to understand privacy, compliance and security issues at the beginning of the process; it cannot be a review and sign-off at the end. Indeed, both Eileen Bridges from Aetna and Guy Levit from TeleMessage expressed that developers are actually embracing security standards, and are engaging the help of security experts within their organisations from ‘day one’. If this is in fact the case, then it’s clearly a trend that is both positive and refreshing.

4. Marketing leaders must learn to become tech savvy

As I mentioned previously, core IT mobility topics weren’t the only perspective at the event. In fact, Quinn Banks, the Head of Mobile for Digital Marketing at Farmers Insurance, offered a marketers perspective during his ‘Digital Marketing Mobile Makeover’ session. The key message: much like developers need to understand security issues, marketers must understand IT challenges and mobile technology trends, as they design and implement their customer-facing initiatives. And since most marketers have grown up in a web-centric world-view, they need to understand the key tenets of a mobile user experience. As Banks concisely stated, those tenets are ‘always on, always on the go, and always changing.’

5. Mobile Centers of Excellence are blossoming – but in different ways

The panel on which I had the opportunity to participate was ‘How to Implement a Holistic Mobility Strategy’, and included great insights from my fellow panelists at Fairfield University, Koch Industries, Georgia Pacific and Zebra Technologies. At one point in the proceedings, moderator John Jackson from IDC asked for a show of hands indicating how many audience members contributed to an MCoE within their organisations. Refreshingly – and somewhat surprisingly – roughly a quarter of the audience raised their hands.

While it’s clear that MCoEs are sprouting up in companies to deal with the complexity and challenges that mobility represents, these groups are taking multiple forms. From small groups that function more as emerging tech labs and advisory groups, to more IT-centric working teams focused on architecture and development standards, MCoEs come in many flavors. The key conclusion that the panel came to was that whether these groups are called MCoE or something else, the most important characteristic is that they include the competencies required to execute on mobility initiatives: IT, line-of-business, security, legal, user experience, marketing and others.

Final Thought

As it has always been in my experience, the Exchange was a productive and enlightening three days of sharing ideas among peers, tackling the challenges and opportunities that mobility represents for companies across industries. Although many of these challenges are not easily solved, nor all the opportunities easily achieved, it’s increasingly apparent that mobility represents a significant transformation opportunity for the enterprise.

This article was written by Eugene Signorini, Mobile Strategist, Consultant & Thought Leader.