Wednesday, November 12, 2008

About Mobile Strategy

Someday you might get caught in a situation that you should be talking about company’s mobile strategy. Quickly Googling around the Internet, gathering some information and telling about present and forthcoming mobile technologies doesn’t make your presentation “strategic”, perhaps only obscure from the audience’s point of view.

In my vocabulary strategy work is about looking into the future so that companies can make decisions and plans in an organized way. If strategy work fails, company will have its back against the wall and it is forced to react. On the other hand a good strategy will allow company to make decisions when there are real options available. Of course “Black Swan” situations will challenge even the brightest strategies - check the book The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.

For Mobile Strategy paper I think you should cover at least following topics.

Meet the Business
If you have read my writings, you must have noticed that “mobility for mobility’s sake” is one thing that I hate. You should meet the people who run the actual business, don’t only speak to IT department. What applications there are already available, what are the needs in everyday business, where are the worst performance bottlenecks that could be solved with mobile solutions etc. If there is no actual need for mobile solutions, be honest and say that.

Security policy
Company must think beforehand what impact mobile solutions will have on company’s security policy. How access is allowed from mobile networks into company network to fetch data? Who is responsible for all this? Is there some data that absolutely not can be used on mobile device?

If topics like above are not documented, there is a risk of “maverick projects” that create their own solutions - sometimes just because there is nobody who can comment on issues regarding mobile access into corporate network.

Something about the devices
Strategy paper should not handle actual device models as they change far too often. Better way is to comment on platforms and predict their future in a couple of years timeframe. Try to make a reasoned suggestion about which platforms the company should use. Implementing a “pilot project” with every possible platform is not something that you should suggest.

Does some function require special devices? Can devices be categorized for different user groups?

Something about the architecture
Adding mobile device access to a closed proprietary IT architecture can be a painful process. Try to get an overview about the current infrastructure and suggest how mobile needs will affect infrastructure during the next three years.

Getting feedback and learning from the projects
As always, companies should measure the results and get feedback from the projects. If mobile solutions are new to your customer, they should carefully gather data from projects and evaluate the performance. As you probably know, there are many ways how a mobile project might fail. Failing once is allowed but doing the same mistake again is plain stupidity. How feedback data is gathered and how it will be analyzed?

Support and maintenance
Mobile applications require new skills from help desk because solutions include functionalities from many sources; terminal, network, operator, possible new middleware components, company’s own infrastructure etc.. How that will be taken care of?

How mobile devices are managed after they have been delivered to end user? No management at all, user’s are not allowed to change anything or something in between?

Risks and opportunities
Do mobile applications create new risks (business or technical) to company? What is the probability of the risk and what if risk really happens?

What are the opportunities that mobile solutions can create for business, customer service, cost structure, quality, customer satisfactory and so on.

This was a quick list of things that I think belong to corporate mobile strategy. Comments and suggestions are welcome, as always!


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