Currently many IT departments have ‘mobility’ people. They manage the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), are the people who set up and administer iPhones, Android devices and Windows Mobile smartphones, and are often the go-to people for mobilising applications.
Their role, while important, does not mirror the typical IT department. Most IT departments have support and/or infrastructure teams, application teams, architects, business analysts, and so on. ‘Mobility experts’ often work across all of these functions. Running IT departments in this manner is counterintuitive. To support the business in relation to embedding mobility in the way things are done, IT departments need to retrain and restructure by doing the following:
Reset business expectations around mobility. For many businesspeople, mobility is still separated from their usual desktop and laptop computing environments. Employees who have experienced the Apple iPad understand the two worlds are merging. CIOs are in a great position to lead the cultural change regarding business’ perceptions of mobility. He or she should work with peers within the business to change perceptions around mobility. By helping those who craft the new business processes and accompanying business cases to stop thinking about the device restrictions and start thinking about what is best for the business, CIOs can promote mobility as an enabler, rather than just an afterthought.
Assume mobility within business processes . When the business considers a new capability, the actual location of delivery should be irrelevant. The number of tablets and smartphones that can deliver full Web experiences in a secure environment is growing, so enabling people to use the devices to deliver processes and outcomes should be relatively simple.
Move mobile application experts to the application development team. Having the mobile application experts running mobile infrastructure is not the best use of their talents. Train your support and infrastructure team on the management and support of your mobile middleware, BES, and other mobile platforms, and move the application experts to your app development team.
Embed mobility within the enterprise architecture. For many organisations mobility adds an additional layer to the enterprise architecture. It should therefore be part of the usual way of doing business — and like many IT capabilities, it should be switched on or off at the role and application level.
Use your business analysts as change agents. CIOs looking to change the attitude toward mobility within the business should look to the business analysts as potential change agents to educate business users on how they should be scoping and designing their processes to factor in mobility (or factor out a specific location for service delivery).
Empower your sourcing team to help manage mobile costs. These changes, while important for the company, will not come without a significant cost. To remedy this, IT sourcing groups need to cut mobility costs by segmenting users according to job roles and functions and enabling standardisation of provisioning, management, and support for mobile devices, applications and connectivity services.
As many mobile devices are not company-owned, this will require the IT sourcing team to work with the central sourcing and accounting functions to better understand current spend and to have some control over who gets what.
Mobility is already making an impact in your business, whether it is through planned and controlled deployments, or ‘empowered’ employees taking decisions into their own hands to better affect customer outcomes.
By ensuring your IT department is set up to handle both, employee groups will ensure your continuing relevance even in an era when the consumerisation of IT is driving tech purchasing and control beyond the IT department.
Tim Sheedy is senior analyst and advisor with Forrester Research’s CIO Group. Email him at email@example.com.