The pervasiveness of mobile computing is forcing companies to rethink their business models, reinvent their organizations and rewire their operations in order to reap the benefits and overcome the challenges of enterprise mobility.
How Mobility Morphs Work into Life
Pervasive wireless infrastructure and the proliferation of smart mobile devices are transforming the way we live and work.
Ubiquitous wireless infrastructure and the proliferation of smart mobile devices are enabling real-time access to e-commerce, payments, communications and information services across devices and application platforms like never before. Mobile applications now permeate every aspect of daily life, and organizations must develop mobility strategies to serve a wide range of users employees, customers and business partners.
How Mobility Infiltrates Daily Life
To understand the pervasive impact that mobility is having on how we live and work, let's see how it affects Joe, a quintessential millennial. Joe's smart device is now the focal point of his personal and professional lives. He arises at 5:30 a.m. after being awakened by the alarm on his smartphone. A mobile/social exercise app immediately activates, informing him of whom among his friends burned the most calories in the gym the day before. On his way to work, he stops at a local coffee shop and pays for his daily dose of high-octane Mochaccino and a train ticket with his NFC-enabled device1. On the subway, he enters a contest to win free tickets to a basketball game by scanning the QR code on a nearby billboard using his mobile2.
Joe then uses a discount coupon on his mobile from the nearby Staples store to buy office supplies. Once in the office, he punches in by passing his smartphone over an automated time clock. To get reimbursed for supply purchases, he sends photocopies of the store receipt to the accounting department using his mobile device.
While in a meeting, Joe updates a client order just before it ships by using his iPad to log into the corporate order management system; he earns praise from his client for being so diligent. At lunch, Joe reviews his monthly sales report with his manager on his iPad. Before leaving work, he sends a photo of his paycheck to his bank, which immediately confirms the deposit via email. Joe closes his workday by passing his mobile over the time clock.
Joe's use of smart devices in his workday is not unusual. In fact, it is typical of how many knowledge workers increasingly rely on smart devices to perform businesscritical tasks, much the way they live their personal lives. The numbers tell the story: Despite stiff economic headwinds, smart devices are flying off the shelves 3. Thus, the devices that first mobilized voice communications years ago have emerged as a pervasive technology that is now compelling enterprises to mobilize nearly every aspect of work life.
Interestingly, the “consumerization” of business technology reveals an incredible role reversal. Historically, businesses were first movers in adopting new technologies. With mobility, however, individuals are leading the charge, and organizations are lagging adopters. Navigating this chasm presents enterprises of all shapes and sizes with major challenges, as well as tremendous opportunities.
On the opportunity side of the equation, smart devices come with powerful features that redefine “realtime” business activity. They offer a potent source of operational agility and everincreasing business value. On the customer front, organizations can use mobility to offer new communication channels and innovative services and products, strengthen their competitive might, and develop new revenue streams.
On the operations front, mobility can be deployed to unlock productivity and reduce the cost of operations, while engendering a more collaborative and efficient work environment to satisfy a workforce that increasingly craves instant access to information and services similar to those they consume in their personal lives.
Sensing this, early adopters across industries are proactively launching innovative, mobilityâ€“driven services for a wide swath of users employees, customers and business partners. Organizations are now coming to terms with mobility's ascension by allowing employees, with certain restrictions, to use their own devices on the job. Some also see mobility as a function that is forcing companies to rethink their business models, reinvent their organizations and rewire operations.
However, the road to enterprise mobility is paved with myriad challenges and risks. These include:
- Integrating devices with enterprise information systems.
- Overcoming daunting change management issues, especially in preparing the IT department for disruptive change.
- Inherent technological volatility in the still maturing mobility space.
- Striking the right balance by which employees can use their own devices for work while retaining access control and preserving privacy and security.
The challenges and risks associated with mobility, however, aren't overly onerous; in fact, early adopter experience indicates that despite ongoing technological volatility, difficulties can be overcome with rigorous planning and execution. A more conservative waitandsee approach can backfire by prolonging implementation and time to value, putting organizations at risk of losing face or worse, business to more proactive and aggressive competitors.
Peter Drucker, the late management guru, advised executive leadership teams to stop trying to predict the future. In his book “Managing for Results”, Drucker points out that organizations should prepare for “the future that has already happened” by identifying major events that have already occurred and will have predictable effects in the next decade or two. In this vein, mobility has already established itself as an irrevocable trend. If current mobile usage is any indication, it appears that the mobile future has already arrived.
For more information, please read the complete white paper, Mobilizing the Enterprise (PDF) or learn more about Cognizant's Mobile Center of Excellence.
1 Near Field Communication-enabled smartphones use radio communication to exchange data when brought into close proximity with other such devices.
2 Quick Response code is a popular two-dimensional barcode with large storage capacity that allows its contents to be decoded at high speed.
3 Smart devices include smartphones, tablet computers and on-the-go devices.