Enterprise Mobility: Today’s Landscape
Formerly Global Head of Mobile Application and Platform Services at Barclay’s, Steven Deakin now works as Director of Business Development at StrataPrime – a consultancy company specialized in cloud technology and enterprise mobility.
Steven helps companies develop their business and technology strategies, with a special focus on infrastructure, cloud technology, end user environments and mobility.
I recently had the chance to speak to him about his thoughts on the development of enterprise mobility in the last decade and the kind of industries that are embracing enterprise apps. He also talked about some of the most common enterprise app use cases that he is seeing as part of his work.
Steven believes that cloud technology and mobility are so important that they need to be an integral part of strategies for all business areas, from technology and support to finance.
He gave me a great insight into the development of enterprise mobility in the last decade and the kind of industries that are embracing enterprise apps.
Enterprise mobility in the last decade
Since 2008 and the financial downturn, the technological landscape has really changed. With the cost-cutting culture that came about as a consequence of this, we began seeing a real digital and mobile revolution.
This was a fundamental revolution in the way people operate; suddenly the products they were consuming at home were far superior to those they consumed at work.
What we are now seeing is that employees and staff are starting to expect the same rich functionality and use of technology in the office as they do at home. But unfortunately, most companies have failed to transition in line with these expectations.
Enterprise mobility today
You’ve now got employees and staff who are looking to have the same rich functionality and use of technology in the office that they have outside the office – Steven Deakin, Director of Business Development at StrataPrime
However, many companies have begun seeing the importance of adopting mobility in order to increase productivity, generate extra revenue and, most importantly, retain a younger workforce who simply want to work this way.
A lot of change is being seen, for instance, in financial organizations such as banks, as we covered in one of our previous blogposts.
Another interesting case study is law firms. Law firms are traditionally slow innovators; they have a partner-base who are used to working in more traditional ways.
However, law firms are also businesses that are keen to maintain competitive advantage over their competitors, so once any of the major law firms begin adopting enterprise apps we can expect the rest to follow suit.
Other industries that are taking the initiative when it comes to enterprise mobility are media and insurance. Although the former is usually quite a long way ahead in terms of technology, the latter is a traditionally slow-moving industry.
However, Steven confirms that StrataPrime are seeing quite a lot of interest from insurance firms who are realising that they need to up their game. Coming from an industry that is so risk-averse and resistant to change, this is remarkable.
Popular app use cases
Different demographics of people use apps differently. If you have a tech-savvy workforce you could ask them to do things on their phone faster and more easily than in traditional ways. – Steven Deakin, Director of Business Development at StrataPrime
So we know that companies are adopting enterprise mobility, but what sorts of apps are they actually using?
Communication apps have begun to be seen as a need-to-have rather than a nice-to-have by many companies.
This is particularly the case for firms with disparate workforces, such as law firms, whose employees are often spread out across countries and continents.
Now partners can be contacted instantly because they all have mobile devices. This ensures that they receive important information when they actually need it rather than three days later upon returning to their desk.
Another type of internal communications app that is becoming popular is newsletter apps. Now firms can ensure that all their employees receive important firm information directly on their device and that they can access it anywhere.
Apps for carrying out daily tasks are significantly more disruptive, as they bring fundamental changes to the way employees work.
For this reason, not all companies or departments within a company may be suited to these kinds of apps; if the workforce is tech-savvy they are likely to happily embrace these changes, but more traditional workforces will likely see adoption of mobile technology and apps more challenging.
It’s therefore important for every company to find the right balance when it comes to these apps.
Another area that has stirred great interest has been billing. Again, firms with disparate workforces are best suited here.
For instance, partners at law firms routinely have to travel to meet clients. Not only does this make it more difficult to calculate their work hours, but it also means that they end up spending lots of “dead time” sitting on trains, planes or in a hotel room.
An app could benefit both these situations by enabling partners to track their time on the app while away from the office, and to use dead time effectively to get routine timesheet or expenses tasks done.
Finally, sales apps have become one of the most common app use cases. These apps can help companies generate extra revenue by making sales pitches more appealing to potential clients, or they can also increase productivity by making it easier for sales staff to set up and record information.
However, as Steven points out, there is still a long way to go before apps can completely replace existing business processes.
For instance, when it comes to content creation we are still using desktop computers or laptops because we haven’t found a way to, say, create a PowerPoint presentation using an app.
However, it might be that we just need to turn this on its head and think: what can you create on a mobile device that could replace documents such as PowerPoint presentations?
Perhaps it’s not a case of creating documents using mobile devices, but of using apps instead of documents, so that instead of making a presentation using PowerPoint you simply add all the information to different screens within an app.
Although we are probably still far from anything like this becoming the norm, it is interesting to think about how the form of documents may change as a result of the introduction of enterprise apps.
The challenges facing enterprise mobility
It’s evident that we are moving in the right direction towards enterprise mobility adoption. However, there are still challenges preventing many companies from taking any steps:
- Indecision. A lot of companies considering adopting enterprise mobility are unsure of what exactly they want, and as a consequence perceive the journey to be too complicated. As more resources become available, however, hopefully the enterprise mobility adoption process will become less daunting.
- Security. There are still many security issues, both real and perceived, that companies feel need to be addressed. Thankfully these are constantly being considered and we are increasingly seeing better and better security solutions.
- Unwillingness to change. At many companies, the workforce at senior level can be unwilling to adopt new technologies that they don’t truly understand. However, as current workforces mature and new people come into businesses, these are driving the mobile agenda automatically; this is simply how they work. Ultimately change is inevitable.
Embracing enterprise mobility is the inevitable future of businesses in all industries. Not only are a great variety of companies moving towards mobility, but we are also seeing great innovation in the sorts of use cases that are available and possible.
It will be interesting to see what the next decade brings to enterprise mobility – if it’s anything like the decade that preceded it, we are in for some big changes.