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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.

Cross the streams. As Ray Stantz and Egon Spengler learned, at times, crossing the streams is good. Your organization is probably funding parallel efforts in areas like content management, asset management, social, CRM, analytics, gamification and mobile.

"At best, there's redundant work being done," Brinker and Khan say. "At worst, connections are being missed, and competing priorities may be leading in drastically different directions. These efforts don't necessarily have to be corralled under a single centralized team, though they increasingly are. But there are enough real dependencies and overlap that they can't be handled in isolation, either."

Show, don't tell. When you start getting into advanced mobile features, showing what they can accomplish is superior to telling. "Even your most creative end users are subconsciously anchored in how things work today," Brinker and Khan say. "You need to bring concepts to life--whether through illustrated user stories or wireframes or working prototypes."

Brinker and Khan recommend creating a mobile "A-team" that has a mix of talents that include creative, UX, engineering and sector and functional knowledge. "Let them earn their stripes on a particularly juicy use case with clear business value," they say. "Also, consider using them as the inner circle of your mobile center of excellence--guiding choices as mobile moves from an experiment to a core strategic discipline."

Monitor the start-up community and tech blogosphere. The start-up community and technology blogosphere may just provide the anecdote that will seed your next big thing. "Especially in mobile, use cases are remarkably portable across industries," Brinker and Khan say. "Consider making team members accountable for staying current on what others are doing."

See each interaction through the eyes of the customer. To meet user expectations, you need to understand the target users' needs, desires and routines. "For an airline, that may mean grounding features and functionality in the realities of the pilot and attendant experience, from pre-departure workflows to in-flight limitations such as low lighting and turbulence," Brinker and Khan say.

"For a distributor, it may mean weighing the needs of the business with the on-the-ground needs of drivers. And for a railroad, it may mean opportunities to help conductors overcome the distractions of a moving train with customizable font sizes, expanded touch areas and a task-focused architecture Brinker and Khan say. "

"Many CIOs, myself included, like to be in control," says Larry Quinlan, global CIO for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. "But with mobile, my advice is to not try to control it completely. Consider an experimental approach to developing apps--it will likely teach you something. Listen to your people, and get an improved understanding of how they are using mobile. Build prototypes, get feedback and throw them away. This is hard to embrace, since nobody has ever said "let's implement an ERP system, see what it does for us, and scrap it next year." But mobile brings the need for a different approach."


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