Blue Hill Research – Managing Today’s Mobile Projects

An MMS Partner is Critical to Success

by Tony Rizzo – Blue Hill Research

Over the 16 years, I’ve covered enterprise mobility I can identify three distinct eras of enterprise mobile computing. This first, the pre-iPad era running from 2001 to 2009, we can now think of as ancient history. Some might argue that the ancient history ended in 2007 when the original iPhone was introduced, but this isn’t true. It was the combination of the iPad and the generation of iPhones that emerged in 2010 that were the critical mobile game changers.

Next are the middle ages covering 2010 to 2014, a five year period that saw the real foundation of enterprise mobility – mobile devices, wireless communications/bandwidth and mobile software capabilities – fall into place. Finally, we have the era we now live in, which I call the Renaissance…in the truest sense of the word – enterprise mobility rebirth.

 

Rebirth? Yes. Despite the many exciting business transformation promises of anytime, anywhere capabilities mobility brought to enterprises and regardless of BYOD and how many pioneers sought to gain business advantages through it, mobile technology as a key enterprise enabler went through a slow slog of growth. It left many enterprise mobile researchers wondering if mobility would ever become as transformative as we kept predicting it would be.

In 2015 that all changed – suddenly and quickly. In what I define as a true mobile inflection point a great many businesses across every possible vertical market had the sudden and urgent realization that despite apparently slow enterprise mobile adoption there was substantial – in fact enormous – progress being made at those companies that had chosen to embrace mobile technology early on.

In 2015 a major distinction arose between mobile pioneers and the many businesses that had been slow to move on any mobile projects. It became clear that mobility was the powerful and strategically competitive business asset we had long predicted, and that slow movers and laggards were suddenly finding themselves trapped with the urgent need to “fast and furiously” embrace mobility or be saddled with competitive disadvantages that might literally put a business out of business.

These pioneers proved that mobility provided line of business (LOB) executives with speed and agility that led to significant competitive sales and operational advantages and many new avenues to top line revenue and ROI growth. It provided major gains in workforce productivity that drove down the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of mobility. The bottom line of course was greatly improved profitability. I’ll leave it there as to why mobility is now central to enterprise operations. The far more important question is how an enterprise with a small window of opportunity can get to a mobile-centric operating model quickly and effectively without having the luxury of time the mobile pioneers had to get there. There is no room for mistakes.

 

Fast and Furious Mobility Requires an MMS Partner

A few years ago I would have said that shifting an enterprise to a mobility-centric operating model quickly and effectively without major mistakes was impossible, but today there is a clear path to getting there and I’ll let you in on the secret.

In speaking with many larger enterprises and SMBs over the last 18 months or so, I can say that the pioneers among them as well as those companies new to mobility that have been successful in deploying mobile projects have one thing in common. They have embraced Managed Mobility Services (MMS) and the related notion of MaaS (Mobility as a Service) to handle the logistical and maintenance intricacies of their mobile deployments. Let’s dig into the reasons why MMS has become central to large-scale mobile initiatives.

Many – if I were honest I would say most – new mobility projects undertaken by slow movers and laggards fail, and they fail because the need to move rapidly to deployment is hindered at every step by forces that are not internally manageable. Mobility projects typically start small, quickly prove themselves from productivity and revenue generation perspectives and then immediately run into the challenges of scaling up beyond proof of concept (POC) to full workforce deployment. Mobility at scale is a far different management beast than mobility at small, well-controlled POC levels.

The three key stakeholders/partners on any mobility project are the LOB folks that drive mobile transformation and typically own the mobile app development budgets that kick off new mobile projects, the IT teams that own the mobile operations budgets and must deliver efficient mobile technology solutions across multiple LOB operations and the finance teams that seek to drive revenue growth from LOBs and drive enterprise-wide TCO to zero (sure, they can dream). I’ll return to these key stakeholders and the roles they play in a future blog post, but for now, keep them in mind as the critical enterprise mobile movers.

The key to mobile-driven business success is to ensure a direct focus on business solutions and to entirely avoid the need to worry about the management and deployment of the hardware and mobile technology itself. Foremost in my mind is that the successful mobile project inside of any enterprise – whether that business is a 500 person organization or a Fortune 100 giant deploying to 10,000 or many more employees, is to clearly understand that the “do it yourself” approach to managing mobile deployment – DIY mobility – is the most direct path to mobile project disaster.

I don’t use the word “disaster” loosely. Even large businesses that have sophisticated and well-staffed IT departments are resource-strapped and mobility projects that include internally managing the myriad pieces of a fast and furious mobility deployment (or “agile” deployment if anyone insists) will bog down and come to a grinding halt when the inevitable issues of mobile deployment management at scale rears its inevitable head.

Mobile management includes, among other things, device procurement and configuration, personalized workforce onboarding, mobile device and mobile OS upgrades/updates, communications cost management, decommissioning and recommissioning of hardware (either because of employee exits, changes or hardware replacement), device repairs and – most importantly – frictionless use of mobile devices by employees through effective 24×7 workforce support. All of these conspire against agile mobile deployment.

Inevitably these issues become central to mobile projects and divert resources and budgets to mobility maintenance rather than maintaining a laser focus on the business solution any given mobile project is supposed to drive. As a result of the three key mobile stakeholders often find themselves hamstrung.

IT typically bears the greatest brunt as it inevitably falls to IT to solve the deployment logistics maintenance issues. LOB suffers through mobile app and workforce failure having nothing to do with the mobile apps themselves (assuming other mobile app development factors were properly handled), and finance – which desires nothing more than entirely predictable costs and budgets, ends up with unanticipated and potentially large and likely budget-buster increases in TCO, along with zero ROI.

Fast and furious mobile deployment efforts without a full and detailed awareness of these issues leads slow mobile business movers and laggards to mobile project failure and continued competitive free-fall. This is why and where embracing MMS becomes central to any large-scale mobile deployment strategy.

More specifically the enterprises I speak to that have done so point to bringing in an MMS partner as a mobile project collaborator specializing in mid and large-scale mobile management. Their common advice is to ensure that such a partner is able to fully understand the internal needs of the three key mobile stakeholders – LOB, IT and finance, understands the workforce structure of the enterprise, and is able to provide flexible mobile solutions that essentially allow the partner to become an extension of the business itself.

I would be quite hard pressed to come up with any other answer to the dilemma of large SMB and enterprise mobile laggards and slow movers successfully launching agile mobile solutions without the right MMS partner on their teams. In a sense, it ups the number of stakeholders to four. That begs the question – what is the necessary internal step to accomplishing this?

The short answer is a mobile center of excellence that brings these four key mobile stakeholders and others together – which I will dig into in a future blog post. Stay tuned.