The myth of "mobile first", and how to break free from it

This article was originally published on Technology.Info.
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For all the progress in mobility, only a small proportion of enterprise activity ismobile- enabled. There are only a few areas and tasks where employees can be productive on the move as there are still few mobilised enterprise apps. In addition, the apps that are mobilised often have key functions missing and crucially tend to operate in a “siloed” manner on amobiledevice.

To get the full benefits of mobility, enterprises should be taking a more strategic view and apply a better design approach to theirmobiledeployments. Whynotstart with critical business use casesfirst?

Up to now, many businesses have made some tactical steps inmobileresulting in a few apps mobilised. The central issue for the enterprise is to pivot to thinking aboutmobileas both strategic and transformational. This requires the CIO and also business leaders to apply this lens across all business activities and processes. This will then lead to programs of activity driving more business activitymobile.

A useful structure for this strategic assessment is to consider three segments of mobilisation: mobilising existing enterprise applications, then addingmobile- specific capabilities to existing applications, and then creating totally newmobileapps. For each segment, there needs to be a clearly articulated and agreed up business rationale and business benefits.

Within this framework, enterprises need to ensure thatmobiledeployments aredesignedand developed appropriately formobile. Ignore function, ignore the technology, and ignore the systems integrators and vendors! Each enterprise must be crystal clear on the key business processes and tasks that they want to mobilise. Applying a “use case” focused methodology is a good practice to identify the core business processes that workers employ to get a “task completed” and “work done” in amobilecontext.

For each use cases, there needs to be a commercial assessment of the impact on productivity or revenue and then a prioritization process. From an agreed set of use cases, it becomes much easier to map to the actual functionality required and also the underlying technologies and applications best suited to deliver the functionality desired. This process ensures all functionality required to support a use case transitions tomobile. There is another more profound implication formobile: employees often use multiple apps to complete important tasks/get work done. For example, if I want to send a calendar invite with an attachment, this task may transition several “apps” and enterprise capabilities from:mobileemail/calendar/contacts to access to fileshares while integrating with authentication, single sign on, session management, data loss protection and other security and network capabilities. An “app- centered” approach and scope tomobiledeployment can really limit employee productivity, won’t effectively support many critical use cases and will lead to a poormobileuser experience because employees find it hard to get tasks done with critical tools missing.

Following a strategic view to mobility has many benefits:

• More enterprise activity will get mobilised.

• A use case- based methodology ensures key functionality won’t be lost as technology is transitioned and is mobilised for employees.

• Results in groups of applications being mobilised. The “app- centric” approach leads to serious limitations to productivity – employees don’t use one appbuttypically need to a range of applications to get even simple tasks done.

• Given the constraints of themobileenvironment, the user experience must also be prioritized. This includes a clear and intuitive user experience and user journey both within an app AND across apps. If a user requires email function, calendar function and access to corporate file share, then the user experience and journey needs to bedesignedacross these apps to support that use case – ideally with seamless transitions.

For enterprise apps, “mobilefirst” is misleading because many tasks and business processes arenotapplicable to themobileenvironment andmobiledevices. However, there are many activities which should be mobilised. Enterprises need to take both a more strategic view of mobility and then make sure they design and develop appropriately for this environment.