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HP Software's community for IT leaders // January 2014
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Mobile in 2014: Beyond BYOD

Now that user devices have fully infiltrated the enterprise, how do IT organizations make the most of mobility?
 
For the last few years, IT leaders lost sleep over the advent of a BYOD world, and now we’re all living in it. While few organizations have perfected their BYOD policies to the satisfaction of both IT and business users, they’re finally understanding that BYOD presents more of an opportunity than a threat—if they can harness it.


Maribel Lopez
We spoke with mobile market research analyst Maribel Lopez of Lopez Research about the challenges that face apps leaders in 2014. The short answer: in a mobile world, finding the value that really makes a difference to the business. She offers thoughts on how to find those opportunities.

Q: When it comes to mobile, what’s the big topic that everybody’s going to be talking about in 2014?

Maribel Lopez: I’d characterize 2013 as the year where we focused a lot on BYOD. In 2013, there were still people who complained about BYOD and still wanted to ignore it. But in 2014, everybody has accepted that BYOD is just part of the enterprise landscape, so the story now is mobile enablement of our business processes. Very few companies have gone down that path. They might have a few apps that they’re running on mobile devices, but they haven’t thought much about a strategy or a program to make that a more scalable process. So I think 2014 is for thinking about how mobile can be an integral part of the business.

Q: What are some of the things we can expect companies to experiment with in 2014?

ML: Businesses are trying to define how mobile can make the organization run “better and faster.” Sometimes it’s really easy, like email replacing paper. Other times, it needs to be more thoughtful. For example, “How can I use location to make a difference?” And these aren’t just mobile issues: mobility gives you lots of data, and that data needs to be integrated with your Big Data strategy. But a Big Data strategy is something that many companies are still trying to figure out.
 
Mobile also needs to be integrated with your cloud computing strategy, because some data and services are going to live on premise, and some in the cloud. If you’re thinking about mobile-enabling applications, you have choices: “Do I build this application, or do I buy this application?”

Q: How can apps teams categorize or prioritize the things they have to consider when mobile-enabling business processes?

ML: The first thing you need to do is map your projects back to your top three goals for the company. Some companies have a goal to reduce costs. Some companies have a goal to drive top-line efficiency. Some companies have a goal that says customer retention is key. Don’t make the mistake of mobile-enabling for mobile-enabling’s sake.
 
Probably the most important thing to do is ask a couple of stakeholders, “What’s the one simple thing I could do for you today that—if you had this—it would be a game changer for you?” We’re not talking about the reinvention of an ERP or CRM app. It might be as simple as making inventory available on a smartphone. What will make their day better?
 
Of course, part of the challenge is gaining management buy-in and budget. And to do that, you first have to prove some kind of return. Not all returns are quantifiable in dollars. Some gains offer soft ROI, such as efficiency gains, while others can directly be correlated to revenue. IT should speak with the different departments within the organization and try to find one quick idea that you can execute relatively easily. Let them know that what you create is only the beginning in terms of functionality. Then after they start using it, they can tell you more, and you can iterate and make those processes better—and you’ll be building a case for it as you go.

Q: Is there one place that is almost universally good to start and easier to get buy-in?

ML: It’s usually best to start with things that improve your revenue or drop your costs—and to understand all the domino effects. You might do some things that just eliminate the paper, and that has a certain cost savings to it. But eliminating paper also means that you can eliminate having truck drivers fill out forms at the end of the day, perhaps. And if that happens, you’re getting more accurate data. You can even automate that with GPS—know how long they were in the car, how many hours they drove, where they started, where they ended, how long they stopped for lunch. So that process can be fully automated because you’ve gotten rid of the paper process. I tell people to look for things like that.

Q: What other future developments do apps leaders need to keep in mind today?

ML: Integration with Big Data will be huge. Mobile provides lots of context: motion, temperature, humidity, location, speed, and many other dimensions. But that type of info is not embedded in our business systems today. Going forward, if we are re-creating our business systems, we have the opportunity to capture this data and do something meaningful with it.
 
So if you’re in industrial equipment, you might capture data on vibration. This data can help the business provide predictive maintenance that can tell the factory worker and management when the company’s equipment is operating incorrectly. If you’re a unified communications company, you can know when a person is moving more than five miles an hour, and allow only voice mode and Bluetooth connection in the car. You can start to embed these things into your business processes, and the opportunities are huge.

Q: Is 2014 more about making your existing mobile efforts pay off, or about driving to the next “cutting edge”?

ML: Through 2014, businesses will continue to lay the groundwork for mobility. Mobility is a transition that’s about more than just shrinking the screen size of an application so it fits on a phone. Mobility is about changing how our applications operate to support mobile work. It’s about designing processes that not only work on mobile devices, but take into account new information from these devices. So it’s a bit of both. In 2014, businesses will continue to improve the foundation for mobility, such as adding enterprise mobile management, but they’ll also build new applications and modify existing applications to take advantage of mobile.
 
Maribel Lopez is an industry analyst and consultant/researcher on enterprise and B2B mobility who also writes about the topic for Forbes magazine. Get more of her perspective on Twitter.
 
For more on HP’s approach to mobile app development, see hp.com/go/hpanywhere.


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