Beyond technology, mobility is about people, culture and skills

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Mobility has changed how businesses interact with people, both inside and outside the walls of the enterprise. Employees and customers alike are now firmly in the driver’s seat, and businesses need to get ahead of this sea change—not just respond to it. Instead of stove-piping a mobile interface on yesterday’s apps and processes, IT leaders must rethink their approach to IT, from technology and skills to people and culture.

The mobile era calls for a holistic IT transformation so that your company thinks (and develops) mobile first. If you’re like a growing number of CIOs, mobility is a top a transformation project for your business in the coming year. Figures from a survey of IT leaders from 200 companies by C-suite advisory firm Corporate Executive Board, show that mobile applications development spending will increase by 50 percent in 2013, becoming almost 2 percent of overall IT spend.
 
Where to begin? The latest Discover Performance ezine suggests that you change your IT shop after assessing how it currently relates to the business. Ask the following questions, so that you can really “go mobile”—and not just put another coat of lipstick on your legacy pig:

  1. People: Do you have people in IT—and liaising between business and IT—who understand the demands and opportunities of mobility?
  2. Culture: Do you and your IT staffers have an entrepreneurial mindset to support the constant changes and new developments created by mobility?
  3. Skills:  Do you have adequate mobile skills in-house, or will you need to go outside?

People-focused development

With a smartphone, tablet or both in most people’s hands, mobility has altered how people interact with devices in their personal and professional lives. Personal devices are a natural extension of today’s mobile worker—so much so, workers often originate ideas for a company’s mobile offerings, based on their own needs and experience. IT must collaborate with the rest of the business, and invite them into the development process.

 

A culture of innovation

Traditional dev processes are too slow in a mobile world, where continuous delivery and change rule the day. Dev teams need to step up the pace, and learn to improve OS functionality with frequent updates of a company’s mobile apps. CIOs must foster a culture of innovation in which IT and dev teams are comfortable getting feedback and direction directly from consumers, and adopting a community management approach to continuous improvement. It’s a brave, new culture that’s anything but risk-averse, a culture focused on innovation that comes in continual incremental efforts. Learning to fail and quickly reiterate will give your company the edge that puts you ahead of your competitors.

 

The skills to get it done

According to Forrester, “CIOs should go beyond a myopic focus on employee mobile apps to also take on the role of business technology reformer and serve as the orchestral conductor for the firm’s broad portfolio of mobile apps and systems of engagement.”

To get there, you need people with the skill sets to deliver mobility:

  • Developers who understand how to make mobile apps
  • Ops teams that can handle continuous delivery and manage cloud-based services
  • Security that’s ready for a BYOD world

Initially, you might need to look outside your organization to find these skills—but long-term, be sure to hire skilled candidates and invest in training of current staff. Ultimately, you and your IT staff need to think in terms of IT’s business value, so you can deliver apps that match business needs and demonstrate IT’s worth.
 
Learn more about solutions to mobility challenges with the "Apps to Go" and "Mobile Application Monitoring Breeds Business Possibilities" white papers (reg. req’d).

Labels: mobility
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About the Author
Alec Wagner is a longtime writer & editor, enterprise IT insider, and (generally) fearless digital nomad.
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