Sounds like a pretty simple question, no? For many years now, I have been on my soap box telling anyone who would listen two things. First, that you need to have an holistic mobility strategy – not just a MDM strategy – not just a BYOD strategy – but a vision of how mobile technologies can help your organization change your business processes. This true mobility strategy can actually drive value and provide your organization a competitive advantage versus your peers. The second thing I have been saying is that mobile will impact and be impacted by every single facet of your organization and that you therefor need to not put mobile into any one silo (or have it lead by any one silo).
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It’s only taken people a few years to catch on to this notion, but everyone knows that I am an incredibly patient person. Ya, right…
But just because everyone is finally starting to buy in to this notion that mobile is strategic to the future growth of your business, does that mean it has to be core to your business? What I mean by that is, do you have to have deep in-house domain expertise in terms of developing and managing/maintaining the mobile applications and mobile infrastructure, as opposed to working with a third party service provider?
I’m starting to believe more and more that you do NOT need to own the expertise to have a successful mobility strategy.
Let’s use the example of a retail company. There’s no question that mobile would be of great use to them. They’ll want to build apps that will be downloaded off of public app stores. That will give them the opportunity to connect and engage directly with customers, as well as provide them unique offers or the means to purchase goods directly from their mobiles. They’ll probably also want to build custom or deploy 3rd party mobile applications for their employees. Many of these kinds of internal apps are not necessarily retail specific, but there could also be apps for inventory management, supply chain, PO approval, asset tracking, etc.
But building and maintaining these applications can be an enormous – and potentially onerous – task. And let me also re-phrase my original question. Should the retailer be an expert in mobile or an expert in retail and supply chain issues? I think we can all agree that the answer is the latter…and hence my point. The retailer in question most definitely has to have in-house staff that understands the potential impact of mobilizing its business, but I do not believe that it needs to also have in-house staff to build the apps or manage the devices, etc. It’s the classic case of IT outsourcing.
Remember back in the late 1990s when outsourcing was all the rage? Companies would sign multi year, multi billion dollar contracts where an IT service provider would take over the IT operations because they were deemed not core to the business and that a third party provider could actually deliver those services at a lower cost than if the company would own it in-house. That doesn’t mean that the companies didn’t have CTOs or CIOs, but they still worked with a third party to execute their strategy.
So, as I close out this missive, I think we can all agree that every company needs to have in-house mobile expertise to drive the strategy…but how do you feel about “outsourcing” the actual delivery of mobile to your employees, customers and partners? Is enterprise mobility core or strategic to your business?