New Apple, Android, Windows devices deemed the ‘next generation in business communication tools’ released in a constant stream, news about IT consumerisation on a daily basis… Are you keeping up? It’s tough to cut through the marketing onslaught and know what you need to lead your business to enterprise mobility.
It’s no easy task to find your way to enterprise mobility, and planning a coherent strategy takes time. However, it’s worth it. Walking the line, you best keep in mind some thoughts that will steer you well in your quest:
Don’t attempt to conquer the whole world at once
Enterprise mobility can mean different things to different companies, and the business owner must take the pulse of their own business to determine what works for them. So don’t be swayed by market hype and idle chat at conferences, which might set you down a path a fellow company with entirely different demographics and operational structure has taken.
Start small and focus on what your business needs. If your employees need email and telephony on the go, with perhaps some social network interaction, this does not constitute an immediate need for full IT consumerisation and a tsunami of tablets arriving at the front gates. A more prudent mobility strategy is to look at the introduction of regular smartphones, be that Android, iPhone or Blackberry devices. This doesn’t preclude the introduction of tablet and VoIP technology at a later stage, but ensures that it is introduced for the right reasons.
Sort the wheat from the chaff
Mobility technology has generally been accepted as at least a necessary evil, and there has been an influx into the market of ‘mobility solutions’ since. Each week the technology blogosphere and IT media scene produces stories of yet another new company in ‘Cloud and mobility’ services. In an environment that moves this fast, you need to do your homework and inform yourself about your options. Don’t be easily persuaded by claims of the latest and greatest wrapped in flash marketing.
There are a number of great new companies who have found their feet in the age of mobility and are providing a solid service that might just match your needs perfectly. The key is to ensure that the solution you are looking at truly scales to your business. Smaller providers may cater for the SME market but not anticipate the large enterprise deal that may break their model.
Larger providers with a history in cloud and mobile computing can be better placed to leverage this experience and provide fully backed mobility solutions to the emerging market demands.
Maintain that long term strategy
In the current economic climate and unstable markets, it is very easy to fall into the tactical trap and pull back planning to a mere 24-36 months. In doing so, costs can be saved, large IT decisions postponed, and red ink wiped off the books. The problem is that this short term gain will lead to long term problems.
An IT organisation and its capability shrink until it cannot support the demands of the business anymore. At some point those assets will need to be refreshed, and for the company to grow and emerge on the other side of this ‘double-dip’ the economists are speaking of, they will need to emerge stronger and ready to take on the changes in the market. In this light you should develop your IT strategy for the long haul, looking at and adopting new ways of operating in a changing work/life balance.
Mobile technology that helps an employee be more productive and willing to flex with the changing culture will bring far greater benefits than tactical cuts in planning. The dynamics of our work/life balance are shifting again – where once it was all about ensuring the balance was right, now it is about ensuring the tools are there to make the balancing act more fluid. Tablets and smartphones that allow employees to respond appropriately to critical demands and changes in any situation will be much more palatable than trying to convince a workforce that their help is needed in unsociable hours from there standard issue corporate brick of a laptop.
It’s the 21st century and most of us already carry a smartphone around with us at all times. If we harness the capability of these devices and tablets, then we can drop the second ‘business’ phone, we can leave the laptop at home when we go away, and being on call no longer means being shackled to the desk and confined to the home for the weekend. Mobility can allow us the personal freedom we want whilst ensuring it doesn’t come at a cost to our business.
Plan for this future, be mindful of the changing technology available to help your business, and seek guidance as to what will work best to move your business forward.
Scott Cairns is platform architect at T-Systems Ltd.
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