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In my role I work with many different construction companies of all sizes and the conversation often involves mobility.  Many companies understand that the highly mobile construction workforce would benefit from mobile apps.  However, many do not have any idea how to create an effective mobile strategy that will help them improve their efficiency or create a competitive advantage.  I often see them making strategic errors in the process and wanted to share them with you and get your feedback on what you are seeing.

So here are the top three strategic mistakes I see construction companies making.

  1. Choosing a device is not a mobile strategy – Many construction companies still believe that picking a mobile device or operating system is the key decision in their mobile strategy.  In my opinion this couldn’t be further off track.  A mobile strategy should focus on the strategic objectives the company wants to meet through mobility.  Many companies begin their mobile journey by selecting a device upon which to build thePicture4.jpgir mobile strategy.  I’ve seen them pick iPads, ruggedized tablets, and purpose built hardened devices.  Ultimately these tend to be dead ends because devices are replaced with new versions and operating systems get upgraded and new features are added.  This leaves these companies with large investments in outdated technology not capable of delivering the latest features their employees want and need.  This is unfortunate because choosing a modern enterprise mobile application platform (MEAP) would allow them to create applications once and deploy them to multiple devices regardless of the manufacturer or operating system.  This means create an app once and then render it for iOS, Android, or whatever operating system the next hot device uses.
  2. Building native applications is ultimately more costly – Construction companies run on very thin margins and are very cost conscious.  Therefore, they often look at the upfront costs of a MEAP and decide that it is cheaper to create native applications to meet the needs of the company.  These efforts are usually victims of their own success.  The initial apps are created and rolled out to much fanfare and often tremendous user acceptance.  This leads to a flood of requests for additional functionality or additional apps to meet other pressing needs in the company and new apps are added one after the other.  Then it happens, a new version of a device hits the market and all the apps they’ve created need to be rewritten for this new device.  This wasn’t a problem when they had two apps but now they have 20.  More developers are hired to help clear the backlog and costs spiral out of control as the company fights a losing battle to keep up with the ever accelerating advances in technology and the increasing demands of their user base.  With a MEAP most of these hardware upgrade and platform migration issues are handled by the platform eliminating the need for additional staff.  The payback time on the upfront investment in a MEAP can be less than two years.
  3. We’ll deal with security later – In their rush to deliver apps, companies sometimes deliver “prototype” apps quickly to a few test users without fully determining how they will handle security of enterprise data that makes it way to mobile devices.  These prototypes are usually rapidly adopted and it can Mobile EC&O.jpgbe months or years before they circle back to deal with the security issues.  This often requires major rewrites to some applications, further increasing total cost of ownership.  Use of a MEAP in conjunction with a Mobile Device Management (MDM) platform can simplify this process and ensure that enterprise data is secure from the beginning avoiding the expense of rework and the risk of unsecured data.

Customers who chose our integrated MDM/MEAP platform avoid these pitfalls and enjoy a lower total cost of ownership.  They also deliver high quality apps to their users in a secure environment providing real productivity gains and creating a competitive advantage for their companies. 

Check out the video at this link for more information on our Sybase Unwired Platform http://www.sap.com/solutions/technology/enterprise-mobility/mobile-enterprise-platform.epx

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  1. Carson Diltz

    Great points, Johnny.  I think the “write once, deploy many” point you make in #2 is critical.  It was only 5 years ago that a Blackberry-dominated mobile hardware/OS market was upset with the launch of the iPhone, and with upcoming launch of Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Surface tablet, it’s anyone’s guess as to where the market will be 5 years from now.  Leveraging a development platform from a company that has a strong relationship with the mobile hardware/software vendors is critical.  Let your platform vendor keep up with the latest hardware and software offerings/trends – allowing you to focus on your business!

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