Monday’s Musings: Why The Third Generation Of Enterprise Mobile Is Designed For Digital Transformation

Published on December 8, 2014 by R "Ray" Wang

Mobile Is The Main Entry Point For Digital Transformation

Mobile initiatives provide an entry point into digital.  Mobile first is more than a mantra.  Why?  By applying design thinking to solving specific and purposeful tasks and processes, organizations can rethink the digital journey with mobile projects.  More importantly, mobile enables organizations to break the silos of existing systems from mainframes to on-premises systems and bring new life to legacy applications usage.  Many market leaders and fast followers have mobilized their mainframe, legacy apps, and enabled users to access data and information with minimal additional cost with a transformed user experience.  Others have used mobile as an opportunity to break down functional fiefdoms and process silos in their digital transformation efforts.

First and Second Generation Of Enterprise Mobile Apps Rarely Lived Up To The Full Potential Of Mobility

Consumerization of technology in the enterprise, richer user experiences, improved mobile networks, and the rapid adoption of cost effective mobile solutions among the workforce drove demand for the first wave of enterprise mobile apps (see Figure 1). While these apps served as a launch pad for future advancements, the first and second-generation apps failed to meet expectations because they:

Figure 1. The Third Generation Of Enterprise Mobile Apps Has Arrived

Five Waves Of Enterprise Mobile Apps

  • Rarely took advantage of advanced native features. Instead of crafting new experiences, first and second-generation apps, mostly mimicked the same experiences as the systems of transaction they replaced. Hence, old verbs such as create, read, update, delete, and search dominated the experiences. New verbs include comment, like, share, publish, and collaborate. In addition, cameras, audio, and bluetooth interfaces add to the sense and response nature of third generation mobile apps.
  • Narrowly focused on replicating existing capabilities. Many of the first-generation mobile apps attempted to replicate legacy functionality on the mobile footprint. Complicated business processes, large data sets, and slow bandwidth met small screen sizes, lack of disconnected solutions, and cloogey user experiences. The result – existing apps were partially mobilized. However, organizations faced limited adoption. Second-generation mobile apps addressed the issue by applying the 20:80 rule and focused on the 20 percent of apps that were used 80 percent of the time. While user experience improved with responsive designs, screen sizes grew, and connectivity improved, users remained frustrated with the widening gap between the art of the possible in consumer mobile and the reality of deployment inside their enterprise.
  • Largely remained departmental or siloed in functionality. Most first and second-generation apps often remained in forced fit functional silos representative of the functional fiefdoms inside organizations. Few mobile apps brought data and information from other disciplines. Mashups such as taking HR capabilities and tying them to marketing remained rare in not only design, but also actual delivery. Even fewer mobile apps could bring cross-functional analytics and insight to the user.

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The Third Generation Of Mobile First Apps Address The Needs Of Digital Businesses

The shift from systems of transaction and systems of engagement to systems of experience requires mobile apps to create new experiences. This shift from analog to digital design points is the underlying trend in digital transformation as systems progress from massive social scale to massive contextual scale (see Figure 2). User experiences shift from interactive to bionic as impact and reach move from interconnected to segmented value chains. Further, loosely structured knowledge and deterministic business rules evolve into immersive intelligence streams guided by probabilistic pattern based intelligence.

Figure 2. The Shift From Analog To Digital Begins With A Design Point For Intention Driven

Shift From Analog To Digital

In fact the intersection of mobile and analytics is a key gateway to digital transformation projects. The third generation of enterprise mobile apps shares five key characteristics (see Figure 3).

Figure 3. Five Key Characteristics Of Third Gen Mobile Apps

Third Generation Of Enterprise Mobile Apps

  1. Resolves an enterprise business problem. Third generation enterprise mobile apps apply design thinking to identify, design, and deliver innovative solutions to business problems. These apps solve cross-functional challenges to the organization.
  2. Orchestrates new experiences. Smartphones and other related devices serve as the primary interface design point into enterprise systems. The goal is not to replicate what’s been created but to craft new experiences.
  3. Fuels a data to decision backbone with analytics and insights. The goal of these third generation apps is to democratize data and decision-making. Situational contextual awareness is built on top of big data and analytics. Imagine the collective knowledge and power of an entire enterprise at an employee’s fingertips
  4. Exploits full native device features. Next generation apps incorporate the plethora of physical sensors such as accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, barometer, humidity, pressure, light, proximity, and heart rate into the solution design. For example, key enterprise mobility enablers often include the microphone, GPS, iBeacon, GPS.
  5. Delivers frictionless experiences. Customers expect seamless orchestration and integration of information from both internal and external sources. Mobile experiences must drive friction out of establishing identity. Signature capture, contextual relevance, and continuity of access across devices are key enablers expected in third generation enterprise mobile apps.

The Bottom Line: Use Mobile As The Gateway For Your Enterprise Digital Transformation Projects

Constellation believes that mobile is more than just the device.  While smart phones and other devices provide a key enabler, design in digital transformation should take into account how these technologies address the business value and business model transformation required to deliver on break through innovation.  These devices provide the sense and respond, the interactivity, and the connectivity required for digital transformation.  In applying mobile solutions to the solution design point, Constellation recommends that clients:

  1. Assess how third generation enterprise mobile apps can change the business.  Constellation recommends that clients seek the most common, cross-functional business problem that cannot be solved with linear thinking.  Articulate the business problem and benefit.  Show how the solution orchestrates new experiences.  Identify how analytics and insights can fuel the business model shift.  Exploit full native device features.  Seek frictionless experiences.
  2. Determine whether to build, buy, or modify.  Given the scarcity of third generation enterprise mobile solutions, most organizations fear the need to staff up large mobile app dev shops.  Where solutions have been developed, expect to take these solutions as a platform to expand from.  Where solutions have not been developed, Constellation suggests that organizations who have strong app dev shops, standardize on a mobile app platform for development.  For those who lack the resources or would prefer not to staff up for mobile app dev, Constellation suggests engagement with design shops and system integrators who have platforms that can scale for the rapid of pace of change in mobile development.
  3. Plan for a mobile experience workshop.   As part of the design thinking process, clients move beyond the inquiry or exploratory conversation to solidify objectives.  The process starts with a proof of concept, road mapping engagement, and then the actual enterprise mobility project.   The process often results in quick wins for the business side and cuts cost out of the IT budget.

Your POV.

Ready for digital disruption by starting with mobile?  Add your comments to the blog or reach me via email: R (at) ConstellationR (dot) com or R (at) SoftwareInsider (dot) org.

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