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Mobile apps are proliferating in today’s business sector, as companies become more comfortable leveraging mobile software to amp up productivity, enhance customer engagement and expand sales. According to a recent Frost & Sullivan survey, more than 60 percent of North American businesses have already deployed at least six worker-facing mobile apps — and 80 percent of companies plan to keep adding new apps during the next 12 months.
Mobile App Strategy
These are impressive numbers. However, it’s unclear just how much real strategy exists behind today’s mobile app deployments. Our recent white paper, “It’s Time to Seriously Assess Your Mobile App Strategy,” recognizes the dangers of a laissez-faire attitude and advises companies to take an organized and proactive seven-step approach to mobilization.
The first step listed in the paper can sound deceptively simple: Assemble the right team. However, if a company doesn’t have the right stakeholders involved in articulating and implementing its mobile app strategy, the remainder of the assessment exercise is severely undermined.
The two parties that should lead any mobilization effort are the IT organization and the line-of-business (LOB) heads — two organizations that often act more as adversaries than allies.
This adversarial tension began long before mobility was injected into the technology discussion, with business units often frustrated by the pace of IT implementations — from approving desktop computers to deploying a new CRM system to peeling just the right stats out of a legacy system for executive use. These same frustrations resurfaced when IT assumed the gatekeeper role in evaluating and selecting mobile solutions.
However, in many companies, four developments converged to begin swinging the mobility pendulum in favor of more LOB control.
During the most recent economic recession, funding cuts loosened the IT organization’s grip on mobile apps and forced the understaffed department to instead focus on core functions, such as maintaining basic infrastructure.
The LOB executive became more tech savvy and more comfortable making mobility-related investment decisions.
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications became easily available. With SaaS, the software vendor — not the customer — hosts, manages and maintains the application. The customer avoids making a capital investment, doesn’t have to dedicate personnel to 24/7 management and can use his or her credit card to pay for the prepackaged app on a convenient monthly per-user basis.
Recent no code/low code mobile app development platforms are now making even custom mobile solutions easier to configure and deploy, encouraging individuals to build their own apps from scratch.
These trends led to the emergence of the “Shadow IT” phenomenon, which is defined by Frost and Sullivan’s Stratecast as “SaaS applications used by employees for business, which have not been approved by the IT department or obtained according to IT policies.” In other words, employees and departments do an end-run around the IT organization.
And why not? The business units have the money and a strong sense of competitive urgency. LOB heads realize that the right apps can have significant positive impact — including increasing customer satisfaction, helping workers be more collaborative and efficient and differentiating through innovation.
Unfortunately, there’s a dangerous downside. Renegade BYOA (bring your own app) can destabilize IT efforts around technology integration and data security, so what’s great for one business unit can wreak real havoc on the company as a whole.
In fact, more than one-third of businesses already consider employee use of unauthorized mobile apps to be a problem. As a result, there are indications that the pendulum may be swinging back, with IT reinserting itself into the mobile app decision-making process.
The bottom line is that companies shouldn’t be letting either IT or LOBs single-handedly dictate solutions. Rather, both parties should be working in partnership to assess, define and implement a comprehensive mobile app strategy.
LOB and IT Strengths
Each organization brings unique strengths to the table:
The LOB understands current workflows, knows what its competition is doing and can identify where and how mobile apps can address problems and improve results.
IT recognizes the risks of a siloed approach to mobile app deployments. It should evaluate major mobile technology purchases, oversee back-end integration and data security and enforce ongoing mobile app policies.
This type of balanced alliance may require a shift in company culture and employee attitudes. It certainly demands that IT be time-sensitive and responsive to LOB needs. And it requires that LOB executives be communicative and cooperative with their IT counterparts. Often, it will be up to the executive team to set expectations and invent a true partnership. Bringing in an outside expert to act as an initial bridge between IT and LOB may actually accelerate the partnership process.
Flexibility, choice and professionalism are key to attaining a mobility win-win in today’s companies. When assessing and optimizing current mobile app strategies, assembling the right team is of the utmost importance — and IT and LOB cooperation should be a top priority.
Looking for more information on how to build a successful mobile app strategy? Consider the application support services offered by Samsung Business.