Digital transformation and enterprise mobility: A smarter strategy

By Tony Storr

These days, it seems like the words at the top of every CIO’s mind are “digital transformation.” Everyone can agree on the importance of adapting to a business world that’s increasingly digital, but there’s less consensus regarding the ideal digital transformation process.

Most organizations grasp that transformation should include better customer understanding and engagement, as well as digitizing and automating key processes. They fall short, however, by failing to recognize the importance of empowering employees and the key role enterprise mobility plays in accomplishing this task.

TechCrunch reports that the average American spends five hours a day on mobile devices. Instead of forcing employees to ditch their devices when they arrive at work, forward-thinking organizations are using mobility to put on-demand data and advanced capabilities at their employees’ fingertips. This keeps employees empowered, informed and engaged. As a result, these employees can achieve better results for both the business and for end-user customer experience.

A smarter approach to mobility

Some organizations that recognize the importance of mobility still make the mistake of incorporating it on an ad hoc basis by throwing together a bunch of business apps, pushing them onto an app store and hoping for the best. The end result of developing apps without an overarching mobility strategy is that the apps won’t interact well with each other and will fail to provide employees with the capabilities they need to be successful.

For many organizations, enabling digital transformation with enterprise mobility will require them to rethink their entire approach. Employees need mobile apps built for their specific job roles in order to thrive. The various role-based apps within the organization need to interact well in order to truly address business challenges.

Digital transformation in action

One of the primary goals in the airline industry is reducing the turn time between flights, as this is one of the only major cost drivers airlines can directly influence, reports a study published in SpringerNature. Airlines can achieve this by building role-based apps that help employees perform better in their roles and work together to pursue a common goal. For instance, flight attendants could start sending reports back to the ground crew while the first flight is still in the air, keeping the crew informed and ready to act the moment the plane lands.

After landing, the pilot can quickly report any equipment issues that need to be checked. These would be shared instantly with the head mechanic, who would then assign a team member to the task. Gate agents and aircrew would have the visibility needed to make sure that passengers and baggage from the first flight have been removed, and that the next flight has been fully boarded.

When all these team members are using apps built for their specific job roles, they can stay on the same page and complete their respective responsibilities as quickly as possible. As they complete their jobs, they can report back to the team with no delay, so everyone involved will know the very moment the next flight is ready to take off.

Understanding the importance of enterprise mobility strategy

The airline in this example can run like a well-oiled machine because the various apps are designed and coded the same way, deployed and updated on the same schedule and built to ensure seamless interaction and complementary features. None of this is accidental; if you want your various role-based apps to work well together, you’ll need to move away from the traditional IT-purchasing model, where different IT elements are sourced from different vendors, toward a model where all apps are built under the same roof.

This is a difficult concept for some to wrap their heads around. Individual teams often develop their own apps simply because it’s easier than waiting for corporate IT to meet their needs. However, when organizations do the hard work required to get everyone on the same page and adopt a single-vendor model for app development, the benefits are very clearly worth it. Those benefits could include cutting app development costs by 60 percent and maintenance costs by 70 percent, and making employees more satisfied and effective at their jobs.

Simply put, if your digital transformation doesn’t have a coherent enterprise mobility strategy, then what you’re doing is not digital transformation at all. There’s simply no way to thrive in the current business environment without one.

Written By

Tony Storr

IBM Mobile at Scale Leader

Tony is a digital strategy leader and delivery executive at the forefront of bringing IBM’s strategic new digital initiatives to market. As a global leader and offering creator of IBM Mobile at Scale, he inspires clients across industries to move to the next generation of mobile…

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