In today's world , the Enterprise is looking for newer ways to reach the customer and providing enhanced customer experience both to external as well as internal customers.Sales teams are looking at newer ways to capture new markets which were earlier considered out of reach because of absence of a medium to reach them.
In such a scenario, the onus is on the IT organization to empower the Sales team/Customers to get access to the required information in order to service a customer or to avail a service/product from the enterprise. The enterprise expects the IT organization to enable to stakeholders to be business-ready on the go.
In such fast paced environment, every enterprise needs to consider mobile as the next frontier of customer interaction. Last year, for the first time, Sales of smart phones outclassed the sales of personal computers and also usage of data exceeded voice globally. With more and more users using mobile devices for communication, mobile devices are the new frontier for customer engagement. Mobile devices enable Sales team on the go to get access to critical data necessary to close a deal as well as book the order real time while customers can access company websites to download key information, view products and also to order and track a delivery.
In order to enable the stakeholders to be business-ready , each CIO has to have a mobile strategy in place which is in line with the enterprise-wide strategy and compliant with the information security standards of the organization.
Mobile strategy- key elements
Before devising a mobile strategy for an enterprise, it is essential to define the need and considerations for a mobile strategy. Mobile platforms are one way to extend the reach of an enterprise to areas where traditional platforms e.g. Print, television and the internet fail to achieve desired levels of penetration or are inadequately prepared owing to lack of infrastructure.
However, before a CIO decides on rolling out a mobile solution, there are many considerations to make. Some of the key considerations are:
Consistency of Content & User experience
- Enterprise should strive towards providing consistency of content, irrespective of the platform to ensure consistency in user experience. Also, separation of content basis the user type has to be maintained. This is needed to ensure that the experience provided for a End user/Customer is different from that of a Sales team member.
- Clear distinction of the audience and their needs (e.g. Sales team and their needs Vs Customer and their needs)
- Based on the audience requirements, the content will also change. Also, the look and feel of the content should be consistent with other channels for all the users.
- 360 degree integration of platforms and their security requirements.
- All the enterprise platforms, web and mobile need to be integrated seamlessly with all the security requirement clearly defined. Based on the needs identified by reviewing the audience and the content and keeping in mind the security considerations of the enterprise a choice of platform (s) will have to be made.
The question no longer remains whether to develop for native apps or for mobile apps; but how to develop apps for both native apps and mobile web.
Mobile Strategy: Key Challenges
In the current scenario the enterprise faces numerous challenges while finalizing the mobile strategy. The CIO will have to keep in mind how to traverse through these challenges in order to successfully create and implement a mobile strategy.
Some of the key challenges that confront the CIO are:
1.Platforms and devices
The mobile market is still in its infancy meaning constant innovations are leading to new mobile devices and operating systems to emerge on a regular basis. It is not uncommon for the four giants in this market (RIM, Google, Apple and Microsoft )to release updates of their platform up to three or four times a year, this is a vast contrast to traditional IT where new releases tend to be every two to three years. The rate of speed in which mobile is innovating is bound to stretch IT processes such as project management, release management and will add further complexities for IT departments to resolve with an ever shrinking budget.
2. Native Apps vs. Browser
Many developers are faced with the decision of whether to run natively on the device or via the browser, however, this is not a question of one or the other but both. The reason this is that frequent and intense users of services like banking and brokerage will want an experience in the form of a native app, while the browser will remain the fallback for users with more occasional needs.
3. Security and User Interface
As with Cloud computing, one of the main concerns surrounding mobile adoption is security. Addressing security issues adds another complexity to developing mobile applications and can incur high costs. As a direct and opposite reaction to the complexity of desktop and client server applications, mobile apps are much narrower in scope and therefore easier to use. To be successful and address the lack of screen size, the apps have to be highly relevant and very straightforward - users have no patience to figure them out and there is no mechanism for cumbersome manuals.
4. Connectivity to enterprise applications CRM, ERP etc.
One of the main opportunities for mobile usage in the enterprise is the ability to integrate a mobile app into the execution of day-to-day business processes. As it stands mobile applications lack the functionality to communicate with enterprise applications at the core of a business, this further extends the development process and requires prior knowledge of the core applications that the mobile application is required to connect to.
Mobile strategy: The road ahead
Though it is still early days for mobile adoption in the enterprise for applications apart from basic mails, there exist pockets of innovation where enterprises are allowing users (Internal stakeholders as well as customers) to get their own devices and build their own applications (BYOD and BYOA).
This gives a feeling of empowerment to the user as well as a degree of freedom which is very much desired in the enterprise environment today.However, this poses as risk to enterprise security as it leaves the organization vulnerable to information security risks and might also expose it to unwarranted hacker attacks and other such scenarios.
To mitigate this risk as much as possible, clear cut policies need to be laid out and adhered to which clearly demarcate the kind of devices which can be used by the employees ( security standards within the organization) and also a framework for developing, deploying and accessing applications. Apart from these pro-active steps, the CIO will also have to re-look at the data security standards of the enterprise, to ensure that core business data doesn't get exposed to security risks.
The enterprise today stands at an exciting threshold where adopting and adapting to mobile platforms will provide greater penetration to new markets and new customers as well as providing enhanced customer experience to existing customers. Mobile platform also enable the customer to access enterprise services and products on the go.
At the same time, adopting mobile technology exposes enterprise to certain information security risks.
A tightrope balancing act by the CIO will enable to enterprise to reap rich business benefits if all the security risks are kept in mind and taken care of.
About the company in which Mukul Jain works:
DLF Pramerica Life Insurance is a joint venture between DLF Limited (DLF), a leading real estate company in India and Prudential International Insurance Holdings, Ltd. (PIIH), a fully owned subsidiary of Prudential Financial, Inc. (PFI), a financial services leader headquartered in the U.S.
For further information on the company, please visit www.dlfpramericalife.com.
DLF Limited is India's largest real estate company in terms of revenues, earnings, market capitalization and developed area. It has a track record of over 62-years of sustained growth, customer satisfaction, and innovation and currently has pan India presence across 30 cities. DLF's core business traditionally has been development of residential, commercial and retail properties. DLF has a unique business model with earnings arising from real estate development and leasing. DLF has entered into several strategic alliances with global industry leaders and has business interests across infrastructure, SEZ, financial services and hotel businesses. Further information on the Company is available on its website www.dlf.in
Pramerica is a trade name used by Prudential Financial, Inc. ("PFI"), a company incorporated and with its principal place of business in the United States, and its affiliated companies in select countries outside the United States. PFI (NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader with approximately $750 billion of assets under management as of September 30, 2010, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Leveraging its heritage of life insurance and asset management expertise, PFI is focused on helping individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth. In the U.S., the company‟s Rock symbol is an icon of strength, stability, expertise and innovation that has stood the test of time. PFI's businesses offer a variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds, investment management, and real estate services. For more information, please visit http://www.news.prudential.com/. Prudential Financial, Inc. of the United States is not affiliated in any manner with Prudential plc, a company incorporated in the United Kingdom.