If anyone comes to you with a pre-packaged program for implementing a suite of existing mobile apps to revolutionize your business, put a lock on your wallet and show them the door. While offering productivity apps such as email, calendar, and contacts can help pretty much every business, that’s about as general as it gets.
The biggest payoff from mobile technology comes not from developing or buying an application or implementing a bring your own device (BYOD) program, but from experimentation that leads to an understanding of how making content available, creating new apps, and adapting existing apps can lead to re-inventing processes that transform your business. In this journey, personal devices will arrive, applications will be deployed, and mobile device management (MDM) will be used to enable it all, but the most important game is much bigger than these steps.
Chris Clark, president of Fiberlink, a company that provides MDM and other solutions for enterprise mobility, suggests looking to increase what he calls the GDP of mobile by a factor of at least 2 or more with a program of mobile enablement. “The expectation for mobile should be transformation, not just 10 to 15 percent savings,” said Clark. “Increasing the mobile GDP, meaning fully realizing business impact of mobile, has the potential to be the biggest transformative event for most companies I’ve seen since the arrival of the Internet.”
Why Data Analysis is the Foundation for Business Transformation Through Mobile
But if you cannot buy a transformation off the shelf, how do you get there? In my view, the most effective way to achieve transformation is through experimentation. In the CITO Research Narrative “Using Mobile Technology to Discover Your Path To Business Transformation” and in a session at the Open Mobile Summit today in San Francisco, I describe a seven-step program that will reveal what mobile technology can do for your business through a program of implementation that starts with some planning, moves to making content available, and then proceeds through the development of different kinds of apps.
In a recent interview with Clark, he pointed out that at each stage of the journey, CIOs and the IT staff must use data collected from apps, devices, and networks to see what people are doing.
“In the mobile world, we have an unprecedented opportunity to turn the lights on about how, when, and where people use content and applications,” said Clark. “The best results for increasing mobile GDP will come when we use that data to design and optimize what we offer our users.”
Clark suggests organizing the analysis around three dimensions, security, cost, and productivity, each of which offer different sorts of rewards.
In the realm of security, for example, it is possible to create a profile of employee activity that can indicate the increased probability of a security risk. The probability of a security breach may increase if a certain type of app is installed on the device or if the users changes their work pattern and starts to send lots of information out through email or to share it through Dropbox or some other mechanism.
In terms of cost, changes in usage of apps in use of mobile devices in specific locations can indicate that a person is at risk for a dramatic increase in data charges.
While these two considerations are primarily about managing mobile usage, the third area, productivity, is where information about how to transform a business comes from.
One of the early and most revealing ways to understand what people need in the field is to provide a large body of searchable content to them. By tracking what content is sought after, accessed, and downloaded to the device it is possible to understand what is needed.
For example, a fire department realized that providing floor plans of as many buildings as possible through a mobile device could improve effectiveness and help save lives. A utility company found that providing diagrams of the configuration of wires at the top of poles could reduce risk and restore service faster with better control.
But content monitoring is just the beginning. Apps can log events. Network traffic can be analyzed. User interactions can be deciphered. Here are some of the most common data that can be collected:
Of course, having all this data isn’t really the point. Analyzing it, building models of user behavior, understanding what the data is saying about your business and how to serve the needs of end-users is very much the point.
Why CIOs and the IT Staff Must Become Product Managers
The reason that programs of mobile enablement get stalled and fall far short of achieving business transformation that leads to massive increase in mobile GDP, is that CIOs and the IT staff are rarely ready to take on the role of product managers.
“To make the most of mobile technology over the medium- and long-term, IT must start using methods from product management, product marketing, and marketing to segment the user population and understand what they want and need,” said Clark. “We need the equivalent of vital statistics for each employee.”
This is a tall order. Just collecting and being able to analyze the data is not a simple task. Creating segments of users that tell the story is also difficult, so is creating predictive models and ways to detect unusual behavior.
But without some form of product management, a program of mobile enablement is haphazard and will peter out. The best results rarely come from throwing technology at a problem. The alternative, using data as part of a formal product management effort, is not easy, but it is the best way to have a strong chance of driving mobile GDP through the cloud.
By: Dan Woods, CTO and editor, CITO Research
Originally published at forbes.com