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CIOs must move from 'mobile first' to 'mobile only'

Thor Olavsrud | April 2, 2013
Mobile is top-of-mind for most CIOs today. However, while many IT leaders are focused on enabling existing business processes and operations in a mobile framework, CIOs with an eye to the future are thinking about how mobile can transform the business and enable new use cases.

It's a rare CIO today who doesn't think about the impact of mobility and consumerization of IT. But mobile is more than just the latest step forward in tech innovation, say Mike Brinker and Shehryar Khan, principals with Deloitte Consulting. Mobile is fundamentally reshaping operating models, business models and marketplaces.

It's not sufficient to think "mobile first" anymore, they say. Instead, CIOs who want to lead their enterprises into the postdigital future should begin thinking about "mobile only."

The signs are clear, they say: In 2012, both Apple and Google Play surpassed 25 billion app downloads. Additionally, according to Internet trends research by Mary Meeker, a general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, 13 percent of all Internet traffic in 2012 originated from mobile devices.

"The explosion of smartphone and tablet adoption in the consumer world cannot be denied," write Brinker and Khan in Deloitte's Tech Trends 2013: Elements of Postdigital report. "And enterprises have taken note. Mobile initiatives have popped up in almost every corner of the business--looking to untether the workforce, engage customers more effectively and reshape business-as-usual. CIOs are scrambling to deal with the outcry: to imagine, build, deploy and promote applications. And all the while, many are singing the gospel of "an app for that," trying to close the gap between end-user expectations and current offerings."

Think Embedded Sensors and Actuators

This led many CIOs to adopt a "mobile first" attitude in 2012, in which their teams were urged to consider a mobile component for each project, solution or investment. And that's where many organizations remain today, they say, trying to veneer existing operations and processes for smartphones and tablets. In the meantime, advances in embedded sensors and actuators are hitting the market, potentially enabling powerful machine-to-machine use cases.

For instance, Champaign, Ill.'s Oso Technologies recently concluded a successful Kickstarter project to fund production of Plant Link, a sensor that you place next to your plants or in your lawn. Plant Link monitors the amount of water in the soil and sends alerts to you when your plants or lawn need water. Your tomatoes might text or email you to let you know they need a drink. Plant Link can also connect to a smart valve from Oso that can automatically activate your sprinkler system when your plants or lawn need water.

Or consider the Port of Long Beach. Trade valued at more than $140 billion moves through the port annually, making it the second-busiest seaport in the U.S. Its IT team uses seismologic sensors to alert them to earthquakes and potential infrastructure damage, RFID tags to control truck access to its terminals and sewer and storm water control sensors to measure performance and environmental impact and monitor security.


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