Monday, September 10, 2012

What's your mobility strategy?



As consumers we have gotten used to being able to perform tasks and have access to information and resources on the go. It has changed our behaviors as consumers, such as how we look for and use information and the way we carry out our tasks. We also bring these new behaviors to work, along with our devices and services. A project manager might begin to write a status report using Evernote on her tablet at home, then leave for work and continue working on the status report using the Evernote app on her smartphone while on the subway, and when arriving at the office she finalizes the status report using the Evernote desktop app or Chrome app from her their laptop.

The business benefits of mobility
Mobility increases the flexibility for employees to decide when and where to perform a task. It is a mistake to see the employees’ demand on increased mobility as a convenience factor when they only see it as ways to work smarter and get their work done faster and better. More and more people discover the benefits of seamless working from any device. There are no reasons why we shouldn’t expect that our employers make it possible to work in the same way using equivalent services and devices provided by our employers. The payback time for most knowledge workers is probably just a few days.

Mobilizing business processes and tasks is a natural step in improving efficiency and productivity, cutting costs and increasing organizational agility and responsiveness. The reasoning is simple - if a task can be performed anywhere at any time instead of requiring the user to sit in front of a laptop at a desk, the user can perform the task whenever it needs to be done. From a business perspective, the mobilization of processes and tasks can reduce human latency and increase the pace of business processes. It can also reduce or eliminate waste such unnecessary traveling as well as improve effectiveness by enabling rapid sharing of information to support decision-making processes where decisions have to be made fast. The greatest potential is on the value-creation side enabling new and better ways to create value together, rather than reducing costs.

Are we talking strategy or tactics?
If you ask people what the difference between strategy and tactics is, you typically get as many different answers as the number of people you ask. I personally prefer Peter F Drucker’s simple definition "strategy is doing the right things, tactics is doing things right." A strategy is a strategy if it answers what you need to do and why to achieve a certain business objective. Tactics are the detailed maneuvers you need to do to realize the strategy. Strategies must come first, then the tactics.

When it comes to how mobile devices can be used to improve business performance, I really see that as tactics. What an organization should have is a mobility strategy. Developing such a strategy should be about making informed decisions about what to mobilize and why in order to achieve business objectives.

If mobilizing work such as a process or task is considered to be a means to achieve business objectives, and the benefits can be clearly motivated, you have answered both the what and why. For example, mobility can be a means to increase the efficiency in the production of a product or delivery of a service. The strategy should cover all the important aspects related to what processes and tasks to mobilize in order to achieve certain business objectives.

The tactics would be how to mobilize processes, systems and information, how to design services, how to manage devices, how to introduce changes in the organization, how to train and educate people to use them in secure and efficient ways, and so forth. If you do that after you have a mobility strategy in place, chances are you won’t fall into the technology-centric thinking trap.

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