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Top 5 mistakes to avoid in enterprise mobility

article image Jeremy Shannon

Enterprise mobility continues to be a popular corporate initiative with organisations still rushing to implement leading-edge technologies and bring their infrastructure on par with modern business practices. However, Jeremy Shannon of Ajilon Australia warns that companies must have a clear plan, complete with measurable returns, device compatibility and requirement specifications before making the technology investment.

Jeremy Shannon cites two examples of organisations that implemented enterprise mobility projects spending millions and had to face failure.

The British Home Office released a report in 2012 on its Mobile Information Program. According to the report, GBP 125M had been spent on the project and over 41,000 devices deployed to the British police force, but the realised benefits were less than 1% of the investment.

Another example is that of Avon Cosmetics, which according to an SEC filing in December 2013 confirmed a USD$100M investment write-off on a new ERP/tablet based ordering system. This failed project destroyed the business and lost 16,000 sales representatives in the process.

Top 5 mistakes to avoid in an enterprise mobility implementation:

Absence of measurable KPIs before investing

Every technology investment needs a positive return or some measurable improvement. Projects without a benefits realisation plan, like the British Police Mobile Information Program will struggle to prove their success. To claim success, a project needs to know what benefits it expects to achieve, have them categorised into financial and non financial terms, agree how and when they will be measured, and when they will be realised.

Hot Tip: Refer back to the business case frequently during the project and ensure the project team knows what a successful outcome looks like and how it will be measured.

It’s not just about the device

Stakeholders get to visualise themselves on a new mobile platform for the first time at device selection workshops, but this is often where it starts to go wrong. Non-functional (hardware) requirements tend to differ for each unique user, and it may not be possible to select one device that suits everybody’s needs. Therefore, consider the device as an end point and build the MDM capability to connect, manage and control a range of non standard devices.

Device technology is constantly changing and faces the threat of rapid obsolescence. A technology lease over 24 months makes a lot of sense for mobile devices.

Hot Tip: Any software application specifies minimum hardware requirements; therefore, size the mobile application to the device specification against an agreed performance threshold, or risk a fleet of expensive desk ornaments.

The users won’t mind if…

The average user has better mobile technology at home than they do in the office. This only means that the baseline for user experience has already been set and it’s fun, fast, easy to use, and repeatable.

However, a slow, complex, bug ridden mobile solution will not be welcomed by users. Start the user experience journey early and engage with the people that will use the system with role based user story development; these goal based discussions will help to build requirements quickly for the system.

Hot Tip: Get early user buy-in with rapid prototyping/ paper based screen flow to mimic navigation and always remember ‘you are not the user’.

Lack of testing, data cleansing and housekeeping

The consumerisation of technology through smart phones and tablets has enabled a proliferation of light applications that run as a single instance with limited reliance on backend data sources. In enterprise mobility, most applications don’t add a lot of business value unless they are hooked up to a backend system, necessitating a middleware layer with interfaces to a data source that is unlikely to be as clean as it needs to be. Testing is therefore, critical to success so that user confidence in the mobile solution is not undermined by untrustworthy data.

Hot Tip: Identify the data sources relied upon by the system and examine how that data is formed, with exceptions needing data cleansing. Also make sure the system is not being slowed down by synchronising or carrying old data by specifying how old the data set should be and use this to drive the housekeeping processes for the local device or backend systems.

Supersize me

Enterprise mobility brings with it new processes and new technologies in terms of software, interfaces, devices and networks, introducing a significant amount of risk. Going supersize on the first mobile project too early is a recipe for disaster. Begin with small pilot projects that will build capability through lessons learned; with the right team, this approach can deliver better results with less risk in the same amount of time as a major project.

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