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  • Do you really need a mobile strategy?

    03.07.15 | Door: Appian

    Do you really need a mobile strategy?

    About ten years ago I considered myself lucky to be able to be a participant on the Comenius Course. Without going into much depth what this course is about, it is a leadership course for rediscovering ways to get wondered and amazed again, pretty much by listening to people. A couple of weeks ago, when I was at the Mobility Exchange Event in the Netherlands, I was listening to a lot of people and, yes, I’ve got amazed.

    My amazement came from the way the majority of the companies were talking about Mobile and Mobility: it is considered as technology. As a consequence, most strategies and approaches are about extending existing systems to some sort of App, available on a tablet or a smartphone, offering some information and, in some cases, even the ability to perform some actions. The issues are accordingly:  security to communicate between back office systems and mobile apps, change management on the existing system and life cycle management for different devices and different mobile operating systems. Listening to the majority of the attendees, I’ve got the impression that the mobile strategies weren’t quite successful yet and that mobile is handle with much precaution. And that didn’t amaze me at all. Why not? The starting point is wrong. It should be:

    • Mobile is about people, not about technology.
    • Mobile is about reconsidering how people do their work.

    The way we interact with customers, third parties, partners and employees has gone through some radical changes. The first one was the use of the telephone (I mean the landline one). All of a sudden direct interaction was possible without actually going to a physical location. The second radical change was the availability of Internet on our desktop computer (or laptop for that matter). It gave us the possibility to exchange information in a digital way and extend processes outside the walls of the company. Although it changed the way we interact in and outside companies, one thing didn’t change. The interaction is many-to-one. With that I mean interaction is always from one person (choosing physical contact, phone or desktop) to another person using the same and in case of physical or phone using the desktop in addition to it. When you contact a company using your phone, an employee is always answering your call sitting behind a desktop computer; when you are going to a office, the employee you are meeting has a desktop computer available; in companies, employees that meet are taking their laptops with them. Interaction, in the fast majority, always involves the desktop computer (or the laptop, but looking at the applications used there is no difference). In fact, the times a desktop computer isn’t involved, is so insignificantly low, we can simply ignore it for now.

    With Mobile, interaction is changing to many-to-many. The many-to-many interaction will be the third radical change in interaction, both for interaction outside to customer, third parties and partners as for interaction inside between employees. And it manifests in multiple ways.

    Customers increasingly more expect to be able to interact with companies in many ways, in many places and not restricted to traditional office hours. These customers are employees themselves and increasingly more open to interact with customers in many ways, in many places and outside office hours. New people entering the work and market space are already used to this, being online almost 24 hours a day, seamlessly switching from between various activities; school related, work related and private life related. This means you’ll have to think about how people will do their work in the near future.

    It asks for ways people can do their work regardless of the device they have available. There may always be situations were a specific device in a specific situation is more convenient or even specifically needed, most of the time, any device need to offer the same possibilities to do your work. Contact with customers, partners and colleagues will change, because as Mobile grows, the person you’ll have contact with does not need to be behind a desktop anymore, does not even need to be in the company building. For what you care, the person can be next door or on the other side of the world. As a result, social behavior within companies will also change and follow social behavior we are used to in our private lives, using possibilities like Facebook and Twitter. Even interaction with customers, third parties and partners will move more and more to this new social behavior.

    Mobile is really about reconsidering how people do their work and how they interact with customers, partners and colleagues. Since you’ll have to take all devices into account, including the desktop and laptop, it is more than Mobile itself. Mobility is the driver, but your strategy needs to be about The New Work Experience, it needs to be about your employees working in a way they are living, as individuals, in social networks, physical and digital, and as customers themselves. Or as Simon Simekso greatly explains in his Ted Talk ‘Start with Why’: the goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.

    The New Work Experience in the next radical change in the way work, the way we live and how we combine work life and private life. This next radical change will not be implemented in your company by trying to incrementally change you current systems. Your ERP, CRM, BPM or any other systems in place were not designed for this, are in their core systems that support the many-to-one way of working, the Desktop as the main or even only device to do your work. Trying to extend these systems with some kind of mobile functionality will not only give you the issues listed at the beginning, it will consider Mobile as an alternative for Desktop, while you should not, for the reasons given above, distinguish between those two. Desktop and Mobile may not be equal yet, they will be in the near future and you’d better have a strategy for it. This strategy includes have information available, being able to action on information, sharing information, collaborating; not only between employees, but increasingly more with customers, third parties and partners.

    Back to the Mobility Event. I might have sounded disappointed about the event, but I really wasn’t. There were some companies who are acting as frontrunners and came to realize that Mobile is about people and not about technology. These companies take employee engagement as serious as customer satisfaction and increasing productivity. They understand that with automation came efficiency, but effectiveness need to follow on this. It was great to hear these companies talk about their achievement. And it was hopeful that most companies I spoke to were open to discuss Mobile as something concerning people. Yes, after all, it was an amazingly good event.

    May 20th 2015

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