Recently, one of the most popular retailers in Australia launched a revolutionary multichannel strategy by launching virtual stores
across Sydney and Melbourne. Potential customers are able to go 'in store' and browse a range of product photos, each marked with a barcode or QR code. Using the Woolworths' Android or iPhone app to scan the codes of wanted product, orders are then placed and finalised via Woolworths' online store, with the orders being filled by bricks and mortar shops close to the delivery address.
While this may not make a huge dent in the marketing behaviour of customers just yet, this does highlight a crucial development in enterprise technology adoption where Mobile driven business process automation is no longer the "next big thing in BPM", nor is it "a great collaboration feature". It's just a necessity. Increasingly, customers and employees (and other participants in the business process) are becoming increasingly mobile and they are looking for tools to enable them to participate in the business value creation while on the move.
Recent research has been providing some very obvious trends which provide further corroboration of this trend. According to a new forecast from IDC
the world's mobile worker population will grow to nearly 1.2 billion people - more than a third of the world's workforce - by 2013. Gartner has predicted that by 2013, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide (Source
So what does this mean for your Organisation?
For starters, there should be a serious and strategic focus on Mobility . This may sound clichéd, but unless there is a specific focus on these elements of your strategy, the benefits will be slow and disappointing. According to this article
in CIO, a global study of 3000 CIOs, including more than 180 from Australia, conducted by IBM in 2010 showed that 74 per cent were developing mobility solutions, up from 68 per cent in 2009, while 84 per cent of CIOs in Australia and New Zealand identified mobility as one of the most important elements in their planning. But it is still generally other parts of the business that are driving mobile strategies -- particularly those that reach out to customers.
The way I see this trend playing out is that while the CIO's office would focus on supporting the business strategy in the most efficient manner, the shiny new Chief Mobility Officer's (CMO) office would need to focus on drawing out the roadmap towards exploiting the latest technologies and platforms to gain significant competitive advantage.
The key challenges that the CMO of today would face go beyond the obvious. While most of his business stakeholders would be excited about the potential of creating applications for the leading mobile platforms, very few of them would have any clarity about what parts of applications should become mobile. Fewer sponsors would be able to build up a business case for a full-fledged mobility driven transformation program.
This is where the Mobility Strategy would come in handy. This strategy would focus on some of the key tracks which are integral to success of the business in today's increasingly mobile consumption driven economy. Two of the key elements that I would like to see in this strategy are :
- Mobility enabled Business Process Framework : Remember, technology is still very much an enabler rather than an end-game. For organisations to reap significant and sustained benefits there needs to be a change in the way they manage key business process. The crux of this change would be identifying those interactions within their business process which would gain the most from a mobile technology injection as opposed to others. For example, for a CSP, while the order capture process may benefit from a mobile application, billing remediation may not.
- Mobility Technology Blueprint: While the first wave of IT transformation has all been about "buy-vs-build" decisions for CIOs as they acquired strategic technology assets, the next wave would be about "enhance-vs-mashup" decisions. In line with federated architecture principles, the organisation has to have a clear blueprint around when should a mobile application be a composite and include parts of many existing applications?
While organisations start looking at these aspects, the technology mix would change with new "mobility-enabled" technology building blocks coming into the Enterprise Architecture that didn't exist in the past. All the leading Business Process Management (BPM) vendors have fairly well developed mobility components which allow you to develop once and publish across multiple platforms, including multiple mobile platforms (iOS, Android, RIM, HTML 5/CSS3). Pega Mobile
and IBM Worklight
are of course the two most promising platforms that I have been looking at.
In many ways the evolution of mobile strategies is mirroring that of how Web strategies developed 15 years ago, with IT slow to catch-up. Most CIOs have traditionally been grappling with the fact that this is not a traditional .NET environment with heavy control or management. However, the tipping point is close, and as BPM Strategist, I am personally very excited about the possibilities.