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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.

Transparency.For more than two decades, user interface has meant point-click-type. Recently it has evolved to include touch-swipe. Soon, Brinker and Khan say, voice, gesture and location-based services are likely to become our primary way of interfacing with devices and systems, making available new use cases for commerce, back office and our personal lives. "A simple example is a mobile boarding pass for an airline flight," they say.

"Until recently, a user had to take her phone out, unlock the device, open her calendar, find her flight, copy her confirmation code, find and launch the airline's app, choose check-in, paste her confirmation detail, and then stay in the app to present the boarding pass at security and again upon boarding. Using location-based services and a host of technologies for short-range communication, today's devices can make the operation a user-free interaction. When the user arrives at the airport within three hours of a flight on her calendar, the boarding pass is automatically displayed on her screen and transmitted to the TSA and gate agents without her having to take the device out of her purse," Brinker and Khan say.

Extending reality. Augmented reality is perhaps the most science fiction-like of the forces, but Brinker and Khan note that it is moving out of games, military and scientific environments and into the mainstream enterprise. "What you can read, hear or feel is delivered based on how you gesture, move and talk--sensitive to location and context, with information you need or want in a format that can adapt to the environment at hand," they say. "The defining developmental work of Sixth Sense from Pranav Mistry and Patty Maes in the MIT Media Lab's Fluid Interfaces Group demonstrates that this is not science fiction, but rather business reality."

Five Foundational Steps Toward a Mobile Only Future

Of course, dealing with the challenges of BYOD and creating mobile apps--what Brinker and Khan refer to as veneering today's business and processes--can be challenging as it is. Envisioning and implementing a mobile-only enterprise may seem an insurmountable challenge. Brinker and Khan say there are five foundational steps that CIOs should consider to start:

Accelerate your digital strategy. There's no time for a "prolonged academic exercise" in strategic planning, they say, because mobile is moving too fast. Yes, strategy is important, but eight weeks of planning is a more viable window than eight months.

"It should begin with opportunity identification--helping the business discover ideas for reshaping customer, employee, product and partner experience through mobile," Brinker and Khan say. "And don't forget about enablement--creating a roadmap for just enough foundational architecture, infrastructure and management capabilities to be slightly ahead of the usage scenarios.


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