Being Ready for a Mobile-First Business Strategy
|Sravish Sridhar in Agile Sunday, July 31, 2016|
If your business isn’t talking about its mobile strategy yet, it’s only a matter of time. According to 451 Research, 40 percent of companies will prioritize the mobilization of general business apps over the next two years, compared to just mobilizing field service and sales teams. Companies recognize mobility offers huge business benefits, from driving customer satisfaction and engagement to enhancing employee productivity and ultimately driving revenue.
But the reality is large enterprises still have a hard time catching up. Smaller businesses and start-ups can have an easier time developing and supporting mobile apps; they tend to be more nimble, and they’re quick to outsource and are faster to adopt cloud-based infrastructure. They aren’t tied down by legacy systems built for a different type of scale. Larger enterprises face bigger challenges but can realize even bigger opportunities and rewards from a digital transformation.
Here are five things enterprises should consider when putting together their mobile strategy:
1. Mobile requires its own infrastructure tier in the IT stack.
Larger businesses may struggle to implement enterprise mobile applications because their systems and operations are more complex; they weren’t built to support the sub-second speed and contextual user experience mobile users require. Simply put, legacy IT architectures were built for the Web, not mobile.
In order to connect legacy systems to mobile apps, they need to add a mobile infrastructure tier to support these new expectations for performance. This is especially true as a company attempts to improve business processes via mobile apps. Enterprise systems and mobile apps literally don’t speak the same language - and as an enterprise scales its mobile strategy across multiple platforms and tens or hundreds of mobile apps, it becomes increasingly important for developers to have access to reusable components like online/offline caching and encryption.
A standardized mobile platform that sits on top of the existing IT stack can relieve these “translation” burdens and help front-end developers focus on the user experience of the app.
2. Digital transformation demands agility.
Tension between the business’ requirement for development and deployment speed and IT’s requirement for standardization, schedules, and security also makes it difficult for enterprises to prioritize mobile and deliver apps on time. Some companies without the requisite mobile skills find it helpful to look outside for development resources for this reason.
And while this is a very legitimate business decision, these agencies can also benefit from mobile infrastructure that supports a more Agile development environment -- like mobile Backend as a Service (BaaS), which provides “self-service agility” and enables agencies to deliver full-feature apps, using development tools of their choice, without having to introduce another time and effort sink to their clients’ IT teams.
3. Don’t compromise security and compliance for speed.
IT’s demand for standardization, schedules and security, etc. are absolutely crucial, and can’t be overlooked in order to deliver apps faster, as this could compromise your business or data.
There is no shortage of scary mobile security stats out there. Gartner says 75% or more mobile apps would fail basic security tests, and with malware on the rise (Bit9 + Carbon Black reported five times more OS X malware in 2015 than the previous five years combined), this isn’t the time to let security slide.
It’s critical to put in place a compliant mobile infrastructure layer that supports end-to-end data and token security, one that supports your policies and controls for identity and access management and encrypts data at rest and in transit. Your mobile infrastructure layer must be compliant with your enterprise data security requirements.
4. Think in “two speeds” for IT.
Mobile is driving IT to behave differently – more Agile to meet the speed of mobile innovation, but still satisfying the enterprise need for a tight level of control and security.
This requires a new way of operating: “2-Speed IT” with loosely coupled layers that allows the frontend and backend developers to operate together but at their own paces. The frontend developer may operate at the “fluid” pace needed for Agile app development, while the backend developer can operate at the “rock solid” pace necessary for maintaining security, stability and performance.
Given the skills shortage in most enterprises today, this loosely coupled approach gives businesses the ability to outsource frontend app development if they want, while still allowing IT to maintain control and security.
5. Understand where your business is on the mobile maturity curve.
If your company is really interested in leveraging mobile to support business strategies, it’s helpful for IT to speak the same language as the business and understand where the company is along the maturity curve of mobile adoption.
Beyond simple marketing apps, organizations can take advantage of mobile enabled workflows to increase productivity, improve business processes, and ultimately increase revenue and lower costs. An enterprise’s mobile strategy typically follows a maturity curve that progresses through these steps; as the organization moves up the curve, they face more numerous and more difficult challenges, but also start to realize transformative benefits from the apps they deploy.
Mobile is becoming an increasingly important part of every business’s strategy, whether that business is a small startup operation or a large, well-established enterprise - but different businesses have different needs. Enterprises need to make sure they’re asking the right questions as they formulate their strategies to make sure their implementation is as successful as it can be.
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