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Mobility Is Coming: Are You Ready?
Monday, 1st October 2012
In three short years, we've seen organisations make a leap from "not interested" in getting content onto mobile devices for users to "I need to figure this out NOW". But how ready is your organisation to begin deploying mobile content? Robin Neidorf offers some guidelines to help think about what readiness might look like in your organisation.
One of the rewarding aspects of researching a specific industry over several years is the opportunity to observe and reflect on change. As Director of Research for FreePint, I've enjoyed expanding our portfolio of ongoing projects over the past five years. We now offer FreePint Subscribers insight on such critical topics as news needs and preferences, copyright and governance, and buying patterns.
But year-over-year change in strategies and priorities for information managers in one area outpaces every other topic we study:
In three short years, we've seen organisations make a leap from "not interested" to "I need to figure this out now" in considering how to get content onto mobile devices for users.
Revolution in Progress
We began researching the enterprise market for mobile readiness not long after Apple released the first iPad... way back in 2010. While vendors were urging FreePint to review their newly developed mobile apps, our corporate subscribers were distinctly disinterested in examining mobile content. Despite the excitement in the consumer space for mobile apps, corporate buyers had more pressing issues, and limited interest in putting content on mobile devices.
The first FreePint Report on the topic, published in October 2010, documented the results of in-depth interviews with information managers. Among the key barriers to mobile content deployment were:
- Security and authentication
- Lack of user demand
- Uncertainty about the real business value of supplying content on mobile devices
We repeated the interview process in 2011, speaking again with many of the same information managers to gain an understanding of what had changed in their organisations, and expanding the pool of interviewees to include different industries. Year 2 results, published in February 2012, already demonstrated a vastly different environment than the one our research described only a year previously.
In the span of a year, information managers were reporting that more pilot projects were underway. More users, particularly in the C-suite, were asking for content on mobile devices. Some organisations were already experimenting with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies.
Perhaps most significantly from FreePint's perspective, however, was the fact that information managers were actively investigating what it would take to become "mobile ready". One interviewee commented:
“There’s going to come a day when [the company] is going to distribute iPads to all workers. When that day comes, I’m going to need to have been preparing for 10 months.”
That report was published just under 10 months ago. Has that day already arrived? Perhaps not, but in many organisations -- far more than I would have predicted even a year ago -- that day is very close at hand.
Blame the C-suite, now addicted to their iPads. Blame the device manufacturers, who have succeeded in moving tablet devices from "nice to have" to ubiquitous. Blame the creative users, who have demonstrated how much more efficient and productive they can be with the right content in their hands when and where they want it.
All of these factors and more are contributing to the urgency for information managers and strategists to contribute to their organisational readiness for mobile content deployment.
The difficulty is that, as an industry, we have yet to truly define what mobile "readiness" looks like. There are are dozens of variables in this equation, and very few real-world experiences of success to guide us.
What Is Readiness?
Through what I've learned through ongoing study, I can offer up some guidelines to help you think about what readiness might look like in your organisation. I've developed the following guidelines through reflecting on the results of our formal research, as well as considering additional conversations with customers, questions and feedback during numerous presentations on the topic for communities of practice and individual customer organisations, and a review of FreePint Articles in the "mobile" category.
Areas of Engagement
Mobile readiness involves having the right individuals in an organisation engaged in working on the problem. Engagement requires a cross-departmental approach. If a single department "owns" mobile deployment, it is unlikely that all the key issues and challenges of the project are being addressed adequately.
Key stakeholders who should be engaged include, at minimum:
- Knowledge management
- Information services
Depending on the organisation and the extent of mobile deployment, it may be important to have engagement from the following stakeholders as well:
- Specific departments, such as sales, business units or geographic regions
- User groups
- Legal or compliance
Prioritisation of Opportunities
In most organisations, even relatively small ones, mobile content deployment has the potential to impact many different areas of the business. To be mobile ready, an organisation needs to establish a process for evaluating and prioritising opportunities, so that development work in one area doesn't adversely impact other areas, and so that lessons learned in one area can be applied to others.
There are almost unlimited opportunities for mobile deployment to impact the business. These are the main areas that are frequently mentioned in our research:
- Competitive advantage
- Employee engagement
- Risk management
The final main guideline for mobile readiness addresses implementation. Success in mobile content deployment is achieved through proper implementation, starting at the pilot level and then scaling up.
Effective implementation requires:
- Active involvement at the leadership level
- Active involvement of the right staff members
- Consideration of devices and technologies in use today, and out to a two-year time horizon
- Consideration of the right content sets
- Testing of business use cases
- Reporting on usage, satisfaction, errors and business impact
- Attention to security
- Budget for financial and human resources
Get Ready for Mobile...NOW
I'll be presenting on and facilitating a working-group discussion on these guideline at a meeting of the Information Research and Management Council on 2 October. As with every presentation I give, I try to learn as much (or more) from the participants as they learn from me. I'm eager to hear what the council members make of these guidelines and how they might apply them to their organisations.
When they leave the session, they'll have a number of tools they can bring back to their organisations to evaluate for and develop mobile readiness. I hope to impart one clear message about what it will take to serve their organisations well during this revolution:
Set your timeline for a fully mobile workforce. Then cut it in half.
That's how fast we have to move.
Would you like to know more about how FreePint can support you and your organisation in creating mobile readiness? Contact us with your questions.
The FreePint Subscription includes access to all articles and reports on mobile content, including our original research. Subscribers can login to MyFreePint for access. If you are not yet a subscriber, complete our form, "How Can FreePint Help?"
About this item:
By Robin Neidorf
Robin has been working with FreePint since 2004, and, since joining full time in 2006, is responsible for strategic planning, product development, relationship management, research and communications. She currently heads the FreePint Research division.
Robin Neidorf ran a research and communications consulting business for 10 years, prior to joining Free Pint Limited. As a consultant, she focused on strategic planning, using information to make better decisions, and creating effective audience-focused communications across different media.
Robin has worked with a wide range of organisations in the for-profit and non-profit sector. She has developed online communities, publications and distance learning modules for a range of business purposes. She is the author of Teach Beyond Your Reach: An instructor's guide to developing and running successful distance learning classes, workshops, training sessions and more (second edition, Cyber Age, 2012) and the co-author of E-Merchant: Retail Strategies for e-Commerce (Addison-Wesley, 2001).
Robin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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