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Why the device in your pocket is taxing the CIO

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Cisco recently published statistics that demonstrate how user demand is driving every enterprise down the mobile route whether they like it or not. In 2018, there will be 4.9bn mobile users, up from 4.1bn in 2013. Mobile traffic grew by 81 per cent in 2013 and mobile video traffic exceeded 50 per cent for the first time in 2012. Moving forward, 66 per cent of all mobile traffic is expected to be video by 2015. And according to IDC, total smartphone shipments are expected to approach 1.7bn units by 2017, resulting in compound annual growth of 18.4 per cent from 2013 to 2017.

While the stats are compelling, I’m not sure that the CIO is quite so enthralled. Mobility is fundamentally changing the interface of technology and is having a profound impact on enterprise IT and everything it does. The ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) phenomenon in particular is causing IT considerable headaches. 

Right now, CIOs are being bombarded because everyone within the company wants to use the device in their pocket to access company data and processes. No one wants to lug a company laptop around anymore when they can simply bring their personal tablet into a meeting. Employees don’t see any distinction between personal and corporate information access either. They expect the same flexibility and user-friendly IT experience in the workplace that they have at home and don’t see why they should do what some old-fashioned IT director tells them. 

As a result, CIOs must now consider how they are going to change the IT environment to accommodate how users wish to interact. They need to consider how they will create new mobile layers for existing applications and how they will build new applications ensuring that mobile is first and at the forefront of their strategy.

Equally, they must also consider what will happen if they don’t. Quite frankly this is where shadow IT is in danger of overwhelming the CIO as employees and departments create ‘workarounds’ sourcing their own solutions to problems. The CIO and his team will be blamed for impeding staff productivity, for lacking innovation, and for not delivering cutting-edge mobile applications to the business. Ultimately, the danger is the enterprise will disengage with IT.

Today, the whole enterprise application ecosystem needs to be multi-channel and organisations must have a mobile-first strategy. IT needs to be able to create once for all devices automatically, utilising responsive web design in their strategy. Additionally, mobile is so fast moving and with new apps constantly being developed, the CIO must create an environment where change can be managed quickly and effectively. 

Back to my opening remarks – like it or not, mobile has become a de facto part of global business, and we are all completely dependent upon it. If I’ve not convinced you, just look at the stats again. Believe me, ‘use any device’ is the way forward in the enterprise, and CIOs must respond and respond fast.

Zahid Jiwa is VP UK & Ireland at OutSystems.

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