Beyond Strategy to Execution: the Mobile App Factory
The shift towards ‘consumerization of IT’, new trends like BYOD, COPE, etc. are bringing new challenges to today’s IT departments. All of this is basically driven by the NWOW trend (New Ways of Working) as Employees – and other stakeholders like Customers and Partners – are not waiting for IT departments to provide basic technology and services, but rather are taking advantage of overall developments on their own. As we zoom, at Warp Drive, into a future that redefines Distributed Computing on an altogether new level, one of the most pervasive – and transformational – of technologies is Mobility.
Global Analysts have been churning out reports on trends and predictions at an unpredictable rate. Compiling the key points from all, however, clearly brings out one major theme. As employees demand greater control on how they work and interact with their organizations, and as the mobile device landscape continues to expand and change at an exponential rate, bringing these two together is the top challenge for today’s CIO. Some examples: a global survey of CIOs by Gartner, published in May, found that fully 38% of companies expected to stop providing devices to workers by 2016. [http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2466615] Again, Gartner, in “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2013” [http://my.gartner.com/portal/server.pt?gr=dd&ref=shareSummary&resId=2335015], puts Mobile Technology related issues in four of the top 10 places, including No. 1 and 2.
So how can Enterprises’ gear up and face this ever-increasing demand for taking advantage of Mobility? Be it Employees who want easier interactions or Business that demands creation of additional revenue channels or even new business models, altogether, these are voices that CIOs cannot ignore for too long. While the start of the Mobility journey for an Enterprise is best rooted in a well crafted Mobility strategy, executing the strategy and finally delivering the promise that Mobility holds, has it’s own set of challenges.
The first point that the intelligent CIO, with a long-term approach, would realize is that Mobility adoption is not about one or two apps. Yes, the field force is demanding sales apps to enable themselves to be truly mobile or maybe the service staff need an overhaul of the outdated devices and technology that they currently use, but effectively harnessing Mobility goes beyond reacting to individual requests, especially in a piecemeal manner. The CIO has to put in place a mechanism that can help implement the overall Mobility strategy. And this is not easy, given that the rapid change in Mobility means that knowing what is required to implement one’s strategy could change very quickly, indeed.
The challenges in Enterprise Mobility are many. Unlike the fixed computing environment, with the Windows-based PC as the defacto standard for most Enterprises, the Enterprise Mobility landscape is at the opposite end of the scale. Not only are the devices and platforms many, but the shifts and changes here happen as quickly as sand dunes are created and blown away in the desert. While a well thought out strategy can help restrict the options that the Enterprise must concentrate on, only a CIO with very large and thick blinders would mandate single platform / device support in this day and age. Multiple platforms (and devices) mean multiple (times many) challenges for developing, testing and supporting apps. And it’s not just about multiple skills – yes, of course, you need a larger set of skills – but it’s also about putting in the framework, methodologies, tools and processes that can handle such an environment.
With resources being at a premium, one of the options that the CIO can consider is to setup a Mobile Application Factory, along with a trusted partner. The partner brings not only the multitude of skills that are required for supporting Mobile development, but more importantly, brings the experience and competency in setting up the entire soft infrastructure, customized to the Enterprise’s needs, that will then be the engine for implementing the Mobility strategy over an extended period of time. The CIO would then have the benefit of a consistent and harmonized approach to all facets of Mobile Development, be it B2E or B2C or across different functional areas like Sales, HR, Service etc. or by any other dimension. Couple this with the right partner who can take advantage of optimized cost models (e.g. Rightshore(r)), responsive design methodologies and a strong focus on the key areas that are important to Mobile (Security, UI/UX, etc.) and she can smilingly report to the CEO that all’s well on the mobile front! What’s more, the App Factory doesn’t only churn out Mobile Apps, but supports them, as well. Which means that there is an effective mechanism in place to provide support for and release new versions of existing apps (how frequently are app store apps updated?).
Delivering Mobile Apps to Employees and Customers is no longer an option. How they are delivered still is. The smart CIO would recognize that how these are delivered is probably more important than the delivery of the apps themselves. And this is where a MAF can really help.