When & Where can mobile help you?

On 22/09 the CIO Speaker’s Café session was organized by EASI, Flexso and Chris Borremans, CIO of Komatsu Europe. The question to be addressed this time, was a very interesting one.

To start with, let’s add a little bit of context. For this, Chris Borremans elaborated on which trends there are in Mobile and what mobile can mean. Being the CIO of Komatsu Europe, Chris identified some interesting subjects on the matter.
First of all, there is an obvious link between Mobility and Big Data. Often it is data, that’s being accessed on mobile devices.
But there are more trends in mobile, to take into account. Younger generations of today are very impatient. They want to have access to all kinds of data and applications on their mobile devices and they want it today. As a matter of fact, they’d already wanted it yesterday, meaning that an IT department has to be able to realize quick implementations in mobile solutions. When budget comes into play, it is striking to see that consumers tend to buy the cheapest application in the AppStore.

But it’s hard to imagine that a complete, companywide, mobile solution will cost only € 0,79, now isn’t it?

There are numerous pitfalls in mobility projects. One of these threats is data loss. Providing your sensitive company data on mobile devices provides you with yet another exposed & vulnerable point of entry to the enterprise. Moreover, mobile malware is spreading like a disease and will come more & more into play in the mobile enterprise. The vulnerability of a mobile device lurks in many corners: Many Wi-Fi networks are frequently accessed, but often unsecured, the AppStore contains tons of hazardous applications which can access unwanted data & info on the device, NFC hacking is an upcoming trend, etc. And let’s not forget the (in) competence of many mobile end users and the threat this holds.

Taking into account all these risks, we see that an increasing number of IT professionals is taking steps towards mobile. The problem here, is that there is often the lack of strategy. Either the mobile strategy is too high-level, up in the clouds, or too technical, like an ostrich with its head right in the functional & technical details. We see that certain companies procure smartphones & tablets for their employees, while others are allowed to bring their own device. It’s important, however, to not result in Bring Your Own Mess.

Concluding this mobile context, it is very obvious to see that, when it comes to mobile, the consumer market is already way ahead of IT. For the IT department to be able to pick up the pace, they should first start asking some questions. What is your objective? How will you achieve it? And consider to start acting now.

The next speaker in the CIO Speaker’s Café was Mario Aerts of Flexso.
Flexso is known for its profound knowledge in CRM & ERP solutions. The question they ask themselves is, why should one mobilize? There are different reasons to do this, in Flexso’s view. A first, important one is image building. Young consumers will appreciate an improved user experience and mobile enables this. The advantage here is that a good, mobile company application motivates your staff and adds a little bit of fun to the business. A second big plus for mobile is the high potential level of data availability & quality. They often say that the speed of the team = the speed of the boss and flexible solutions, such as a mobile approval application, can drastically improve certain processes. User productivity can rise for companies embracing mobility, meaning work will be automated, people in the field are able to work “on the fly”, problems get solved more quickly and departments, such as the Sales Department, get empowered by mobility. In this context it really makes sense to mobilizing existing ERP & CRM solutions. And mobilizing doesn’t necessarily have to mean buying new & expensive platforms. By, for example, deploying a standard, mobile application on top of an already existing SAP system, a CIO should be able to leverage investments in existing applications.

The third and last speaker, was Philippe Poupeleer of EASI. He made the interesting observation that everything you need is in the palm of your hand with a mobile device. Smartphones & tablets have the potential to provide most employees with everything they need. Divisions in a lot of companies where quick wins are to be made, are often “the Technical team”, the “Sales team” and the “Quality Assurance department”. Connectivity is one of the major advantages in this respect. A salesman can have access to information anywhere, anytime nowadays. There is, virtually, no need for an outdoor employee to go to the office anymore. Another asset of mobility are push notifications. A company can reach a very specific target group in a very specific geographic location at a very specific time. This is a very effective way of communication for targeting both internal employees and external customers. Working paperless is another major advantage. Commercial documentation can be showed on an iPad, customers can sign, using Near Field Communication (NFC), an order can be made, etc. This means that an entire sales process can be dealt with via the mobile device. Philippe concluded by naming more of the numerous advantages of mobile, such as gains in time, productivity, Return On Investment, etc. And let’s not forget one last thing. All these mobile devices can be perfectly managed with regards to Security, by deploying a company wide Mobile Device Management Solution.

Yes, dear readers, you can see the possibilities and opportunities are endless. But how can we conclude this Mobile CIOforum session?

What’s most important, according to Chris Borremans, is to pick your battles. There are tons and tons of mobile solutions around nowadays. As a decision maker of the IT department, you really have to choose mature and stable partners & solutions.

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