Why enterprise mobility is a board level issue

The cultural and technological shifts that we are seeing within the workplace have pushed enterprise mobility to the top of many corporate agendas.  Accordingly, one central issue that organisations now need to contend with is, not only how to centrally manage mobility on a strategic level,  but also, how to keep pace by developing  competencies, in-house, to cater for this growth.

A role by any other name

Given the scale of the mobile revolution, it’s perhaps little surprise that analysts have predicted the rise of the ‘Chief Mobility Officer’ (CMO) – a specialist role which is essentially a hybrid of both technology and business skills.

Analyst firm Forrester has identified that “CIOs must step up and work with other executives to establish an office of the chief mobility officer to implement an enterprise wide mobile strategy.”*

The rationale for this, is that the CMO can better connect individual mobile projects – to provide a ‘top down’, co-ordinated strategy that encompasses different departments, different roles and mobile initiatives.

They can function as the central point of engagement and control across departments to ensure that the mobile projects are tailored for, and meeting the needs of the business, be they customer, partner or employee- driven.

This role would incorporate the disparate elements: – from mobile architecture to security, mobile governance, legal issues and application development.

This all sounds reasonable and the success of any enterprise mobility plan comes down to having the right strategy and ‘buy in’ from the top level down.

However, I’d argue that, whilst mobility requires this C-level commitment, the role itself – be it CTO, CMO or CIO – is not the key issue.

The fundamental factor is that organisations need to plan mobility taking into account: an organisation’s freedom of choice, flexibility and that essentially, none of us know what the future will hold.

Taking Stock

Whilst many organisations may be taking ad-hoc decisions based on need and employee demand, as it arises, they need to avoid rushing into mobility head first and making decisions which commit them in one direction or another.

This can be just as hazardous as procrastinating and putting mobility off for months on end.

The starting point must be accounting for the rapid change of pace of mobility:-  different eventualities must be accounted for from platforms to device types.

For example, will 2013 be the tipping point for tablets in the enterprise?

Will Windows make a comeback as a viable alternative to Google and Apple?

A mobile strategy must take into account a future where nothing is certain.

A further key concern for the decision maker,  is the issue of internal skillsets and the fear that  employees don’t have the skills for mobile development.

And also that they don’t want to lose the accumulated years of skills and business knowledge they already have in house,  as staff are moved away for the ‘next big thing.’

This can mean that mobile projects are put on hold or meet in-house resistance.

These reactions are understandable if organisations take the view that the only way to mobilise is to learn new skills and program in a specific language.

The reality is that mobile platforms allow code to be developed once and to run on any device.

Whilst staff will need to learn new skills, it is not the same as learning a new language and is designed to make the most of those years of business process and understanding they have built up over the years.

It’s encouraging that mobility is now front and centre on many C-level agendas.

This reflects its role as a strategic enabler which can deliver real competitive advantage.

Gaining mobile ‘buy-in’ and consensus from all key stakeholders is key.

However, no matter who takes responsibility for the strategy, planning for change and building in flexibility, whilst retaining in-house expertise can be the best foundations for any plan.

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