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Understanding What Is and Isn’t An Enterprise Mobility Strategy

It’s a rainy day here in Boston as we get ready to celebrate America’s independence today.  I was talking to a friend yesterday about enterprise mobility (I know….shocking) and he touched upon mobile strategy.  That got me thinking about what strategy means…it’s a word that gets (mis)used so frequently, that I sometimes think we don’t know what it truly means. In fact, I encourage you to do a search on your favorite search engine for “mobility strategy” or “enterprise mobility strategy” and see what comes up.  Are these truly strategic issues (you can’t fault the search engines for this one) or are people being short-sighted?

So what is a mobility strategy? I think it might be best to figure it out via process of elimination.  BYOD is NOT a strategy for enterprise mobility.  I know, I know….we’ve read scores if not hundreds of articles and whitepapers on how companies need to develop a BYOD strategy or a strategy for BYOD. The fact of the matter is that BYOD is simply not strategic…nor a strategy.  It’s not your fault if you thought otherwise.

Now, without intentionally offending anyone, I’m going to have to also tell you that deploying a Mobile Device Management solution is not a strategy.  Neither is Mobile Application Management, nor any other part of Enterprise Mobility Management.  They’re just not.  And by the way, Mobile Enterprise Application Platforms (MEAPs)…or Mobile Application Development Platforms (MADP) as Gartner has, in its infinite wisdom, recently rebranded the space…that’s not a strategy either.

…and believe it or not, but one of my favorite topics, mobility policy….that’s not a strategy either.

I’m sorry, but none of these things are strategies….they are tools.  They are just tools.  That said, all the above-mentioned tools (including app wrappers, virtualization and container techniques, blah blah blah) are absolutely critical in implementing a successful mobility strategy, but let’s just call a spade a spade.

OK, now that I have carpet bombed the entire world, what’s left?

It’s about the people.  It’s about people answering one simple question.  How are mobile devices and mobile applications going to make my employees more effective?  How can my employees access the data they need wherever and whenever they need it?  How can my company tap the transformative powers of these new technologies to re-envision its business processes? How will mobile help me beat my competition? OK, that was four questions…but you get my drift.

Too often we end up talking about technology for technology’s sake…and thinking that technology will fix the problem.  Isn’t that why we hire systems integrators and super expensive management consultants?

I say this often, but I think it’s worth mentioning again.  A mobility strategy….a TRUE mobility strategy…is inextricably tied to your company’s business strategy and its business planning strategy. Technology is a means to a business end.  The next time you have a conversation or read an article/whitepaper on mobility strategy, take a step back and see if the speaker/author is talking about business or technology.

Happy 4th of July everyone.

8 Comments

  1. Posted July 4, 2012 at 10:56 | Permalink

    I completely agree with this article. Strategy in the context of business really means differentiating yourself from your competition (by offering a unique set of products and/or services or by being a cost leader or by being a leader in a target segment etc.). Mobilizing your enterprise is just one of the tools that allows you to differentiate yourself from the competition. A fully mobile enterprise can help strengthen the linkages in your business’s value chain, at least in some of the key areas and this can give the business a competitive advantage. But, if you all your competitors are doing the exact same thing, then there is no real advantage. The key is to differentiate…

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    • Posted July 9, 2012 at 10:59 | Permalink

      Agreed Jai….but that said, I do believe that the most innovative companies will find unconventional ways of using “ordinary mobile technologies” to do extra-ordinary things. That’s how mobility becomes transformative.

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  2. Posted July 9, 2012 at 13:08 | Permalink

    Hi, great article and discussion. Very timely for me as I have been thinking about this topic recently. Have you seen a good example of a documented mobile strategy? Looking around on the net I have not been able to find one and I would love to read one.

    Also, although I definitely agree with the importance of differentiating oneself, I think for some companies getting to parity with their competition is a valid strategy objective (or maybe it is component or “first step” in the strategy?). For a company that is behind, or that thinks it can “do mobile later”, a mobile strategy like this can be used to convince leadership that it needs to do more now.

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    • Posted July 16, 2012 at 06:53 | Permalink

      I absolutely agree. To many companies are caught up in the how-to’s of supporting mobile devices and services without stopping to think about why they want it. Enter the proper EM strategy…

      Tony, I don’t think you’ll find any sample strategies online for 2 reasons: 1) It’s sensitive company information, and 2) it’s relying on methodologies from consultancies (me!) where it’s part of our valuable IPR.

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      • Posted July 24, 2012 at 10:10 | Permalink

        I agree with all of the above :) Although it’s always interesting to see what type of mobility strategy a given company is rolling out (and how), it is most likely irrelevant to the next company that has a different business & general strategy… To sum up Philippe’s article, I’d say that since other companies can’t relate to the “whys” of a given mobility strategy, they focus only on the “hows” and get everything mixed up! I’ll have to agree with Hans, that’s where consultants can help!

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  3. Posted July 25, 2012 at 03:09 | Permalink

    Seems like the classic case of missing out on trees because of the forest. We are often so concerned about how to do something, that we forget why we need to get it done in the first place. Enterprise Mobility needs to be strategic in nature and companies need to figure it out fast to maximize their advantage.

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  4. Posted April 15, 2013 at 16:42 | Permalink

    Ok. Look, great article. Properly, and bit ironically, expansive.

    It’s now time for mobility to recognize that it is the technical part of a shift in human activity. It’s not really about the apps or devices or services or…

    It’s about a transformation of life from a static state to an active state. It’s a small and new step in the ever-moving change of human activity. First we walked, next we rode, then we flew to get it done, explore, learn, and grow.

    It is my opinion, that if the technology managers, designers, and businesses expect to flourish in the light of the new mobile landscape, they must now allow the presence of these early struggles to wake them from dogmatic slumbers and join actual users in redesigning how, where, why, and for whom we begin to get things done.

    Bravo, Phillippe.

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  5. Posted June 27, 2013 at 06:38 | Permalink

    Yup.. this should be the thought process to drive any strategy for that matter.. need not be only Mobility..
    I want to add one more point
    How its going to change my consumers and employees behavior..

    cheers
    ~
    Prasad

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