• Swathi Young

10 essential ingredients for a successful mobile strategy

A solutions architect and a product manager were arguing about mobile devices being used only for short texts. So the solutions architect quickly pulls out a recent article that shows that people actually read 4000 worded long articles on their phone. The point is that mobile devices are no longer a convenience to text, chat or call anyone. The engagement is increasing exponentially. According to Gartner, “By 2016, use of mobile apps will surpass that of Internet domain names, making mobile apps the dominant means of engaging with brands.”

Enterprises are not far behind in mobile adoption and have matured beyond email and web-browsing capabilities. While executives and sales teams use them to access data during customer visits, doctors use them for clinical applications. Retailers use them for inventory management and spot payments, while manufacturing professionals use them to collaborate on complex designs. Transportation and logistics professionals use them for delivery routes, schedules and confirmations. The important point here is these specialized use cases that drive the success of enterprise mobility. But, if you are the CTO, where will you place your bets when it comes to these fast-changing technologies?  What tools, technologies and processes will you need to deliver these mobile apps that boost productivity and customer engagement? The below process will help you start thinking in the right direction. 1.Align business goals with mobile use cases and KPIs: There are many use cases in an enterprise and most of them offer numerous benefits that can be easily aligned to Key performance indicators (KPIs) - improve responsiveness, increase utility, enhance data accuracy, faster-decision making and reduce costs of conducting business.  Sometimes it can be life saving, as in the case of first responders in natural disasters. Firefighters, coast guards and police can assign resources; distribute supplies and monitor as the disaster progresses. They can also share situational information—road closures, power outages, accidents—to help other responders be effective and safe. 2.Assess your costs:             As any organization, you would love to keep your costs for mobile low but it depends on some of the technology decisions you make. If you develop in native code specific to iPhones or Android then you need as many developers. On the other hand a “write once deploy on any device” or a hybrid app will significantly lower your development costs. According to Kinvey survey, the average cost to develop and deploy an app is 270K. Do you think that this is in your ballpark or would you like to rethink your mobile strategy? 3. Decide how many devices you would support:The costs of your mobile development would also depend on your decision to develop and support the number of devices. For example you can think of investing only an iPhone and Android app and utilize the responsive website for windows and blackberry devices if you would like to reduce costs. Similarly a decision for the version support of the devices also factors into the costs. Should you support iPhones 4, 5 and 6 or just support iPhones 5 and 6? It is a good practice to support (n-2) devices where n is the current version. 4.Factor in your data needs: Mobile apps are not standalone applications in enterprises. They need to integrate with their CRM application, ERP applications or enterprise databases. Typically integrations can be made in three ways Web Services, APIs or Middleware. The complexity, size and the number of enterprise mobile apps will drive this selection, which would also be factored into the cost. 5. Native or hybrid app:Most mobile devices use one of the two dominant operating systems: Google-developed Android (48.3%) and the Apple-developed iOS (41%). Both these platforms offer their own development tools but they are designed and coded for a specific kind of device. A few years back they were the best option for fastest, most reliable and most responsive experience to users. But things have evolved in the last two years. Apps can now be built using cross-compatible web technologies, such as HTML5, CSS and Javascript along with some native code to allow the app to access wider functionality of the device and produce a more refined user experience. The advantage is obviously lesser cost and fewer maintenance nightmares. One esteemed tech journalist says “The designers and developers behind Instagram, Uber, and Basecamp are incredibly talented and practiced; they care about consistent interface design, enjoyable experiences, maintainability, and the reach of their apps. They have the resources to maintain a native app on each platform, but they don’t.” which means most of the popular apps today are Hybrid apps.

6.Employees - BYOD or company provided devices : According to the Frost & Sullivan report, more than 35 percent of organizations already consider employee use of unauthorized apps to be a problem. Employees without app offerings from their employers may look at third party, unapproved apps to meet their needs, opening the door for hackers to gain access to sensitive information. The time is right for enterprises to create their own mobile strategy to stop security breaches and harness powerful tools to maintain, control and track the devices. BYOD devices can be used for enterprise apps with the help of MDM tools to segregate the personal data and enterprise data.  The only challenge is convincing employees to enroll in MDM as well as the benefit of the segregation of data layers. 7. Choose the right MDM tool:Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools are like the magic wand that segregates containers of employee’s personal data and company data. They also help track devices, enable security and have the ability to remotely wipe out your enterprise data in case the device is lost or stolen. MDM tools also handle device security, onboarding, and monitoring. MobileIron is one of the pioneers in this suite of tools. It secures apps, content, and devices regardless of the device type. But latest virtual tools like Hypori take MDM to a whole new level. Hypori uses a thin client technology and stores sensitive enterprise data on the cloud, bypassing any stale data on the devices. It “lets you take your existing MDM platform further – to contractors, partners and even customers.” 8.Security :Enterprise mobile security at a basic level starts with installing mobile anti-malware software. Also ensure that all mobile device communications be encrypted and use of strong authentication is recommended. Use of special gateways with customized firewalls and security controls adds protection to your organization’s data. A baseline security should include Password protection at power-onFile or directory encryptionVPN for email and internal network accessOn-device firewallAV softwareLatest security patches 9.Governance of BYOD: With BYOD comes the challenge of enterprise bandwidth consumption, increased vulnerabilities or potential intellectual property loss. Hence the first step in governance should be good user/role management that allows the individuals to access only the data they need for their job functions. The next step would be to limit the network access especially the corporate VPN around the user/role definition. The third step would be to ensure automatic updates are enabled on everyone’s device ensuring that their personal data would still not be accessible to the enterprise. ​10.Measure and Optimize:   Revenue vs. costs: Once you know all the component parts of your enterprise mobility strategy, you can calculate its overall financial benefit. You’ll be able to weigh the qualitative costs against the monetary benefits of the solution, including increased sales, time to market, and profitability. Usage data: Another aspect of the ROI of your mobility strategy includes the raw data you can capture from it. You’ll be able to learn more about ease of use, effectiveness, average time to complete tasks, time saved or spent, and more. Productivity: Reducing the need for employees to travel—and cutting back on the time they take to complete tasks—are also distinct ways to increase the ROI of a good mobile strategy. These are sometimes harder to quantify, but no less important to your overall business objectives. Adoption rate: This is a tricky one. Looking at how quickly and actively your employees adopt the new technologies that you roll out can help you understand the strategy’s effectiveness. Your investment is worth it only if your employees or customers are using the solution. However, some experts argue that using adoption rate to calculate ROI is just a substitute for looking at budgets and the bottom line. Customer satisfaction: How your customers feel about your company matters just as much as how well your employees do their jobs. A good mobility strategy should improve both factors. Your customers’ overall happiness with your company’s performance is another good indicator of mobility ROI. Conclusion:     In summary, having a good mobile strategy ensures that your costs are optimized for maximizing business value. You can easily achieve your ROI by investing in a good mobile strategy.

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