So, where is IT going? Are you an Innovator?


How innovative is your IT organization? Are you looking at ways to embrace current technologies and use them to make your business or organization more competitive in its market space?  

One place to start looking at is how well you do mobile. As the workforce moves to the home office and as organizations become more global, mobile and collaborative technologies become the glue that holds them together. Additionally, as customers hit the social world, so must the organization. Yes, many organizations can show they have achieved the latter with Facebook pages, LinkedIn company pages and twitter accounts, but how IT empowering the business community?

While many organizations are still struggling to figure out how to enable and secure mobile devices appropriately, others have moved ahead of the curve and begun to empower mobile.  For those of you that haven’t yet started the enablement journey, this month’s blog will provide some ideas.

Creating an Internal App Store

Supporting mobile means far more than allowing people to get to email remotely, but many organizations miss this fact. A true move to use mobile technologies to empower the business would include defining the services used when associates are out of the office, either at the end of the day or when they travel and enabling them to run on mobile devices. Looking at a few examples:
  • If you offer a corporate travel portal, is it mobile yet? How well does it perform on a smart phone vs. tablet?Is it smart? Does it know where (and when) someone is traveling and push weather alerts and flight delays that might impact the flights they’ve booked?
  • What about time and expense programs? Have you enabled remote entry via smart phones? This is a tremendous time-saver that help people avoid lost receipts and time spent entering expenses when they return vs. on the fly when they are incurred.
  • From a technology support standpoint, how easy is it for people to log IT requests and issues from a mobile device? Do you have an on-line Service Request portal that supports mobile?
  • Are your corporate CRM, ERP programs mobile-enabled? What about the other applications people use every day?
As you review services with business associates, think not only of creating the mobile apps needed to put these services in the hands of your associates but also about creating a mobile app from which they can download them. The combination of creating the mobile versions of your applications and services and making them available on line creates your internal App Store.

Enabling “smart” content

An internally developed application that functions like a corporate FourSquare can empower your mobile workforce. When they check into a corporate location or retail outlet, they could be presented with current news from that location, associates who are in the location today and other information that makes their visit more productive. As FourSquare proves, the technology is there, IT just needs to be creative in how to use it. An even more sophisticated version of this would determine their location and push the data to them automatically.

Knowledge Management strategy

What knowledge to people need when they are away from the office? Can they get to it remotely? Creating a knowledge management strategy is an often overlooked area that can reap tremendous benefits. While it may start away from the mobile environment, it can also include it. At the strategic level, creating a knowledge strategy might include understanding the knowledge that is available in the enterprise and where it is housed and then determining how it supports the organization. A more tactical project to assess the business value of the various knowledge stores and compile those that do contribute to the business’ strategic goals into a single knowledge portal will help create a knowledge portal as the single source for all information needed by the various audiences. The next step is looking at how to make knowledge available to people when they are away from the office, when they don’t have the time to boot up a PC and search for an article. Many of todays solutions offer both wiki style search capabilities along with the ability to display results on a mobile device (even if the text is a little small).

Getting Started

This is not an exhaustive list, but rather a place to start. Like all of the great technology marketing efforts out there however, it’s important to avoid enabling mobile just because it can be done. There needs to be a sound business reason and sound business drivers to look at bringing your applications to a mobile environment, not just to c
heck off an item on a list of things IT should be doing or tools IT should be implementing. I can think of a few concrete examples of business processes supported by mobile technologies:
  • Equipping facilities engineers with smart phones that have the ability to enter tickets directly into a facilities management application as they survey a location looking for issues that need to be addressed.
  • Providing hotel chambermaids with an app they can use to check off a room as it is cleaned. If well thought out, it can alert a floor manager who can check and approve the room’s readiness and by interfacing this with the reservation system, front desk clerks know in an instant which rooms are ready for check-in.
  • Equipping car sales people with a tablet that they can use while walking the lot with a customer or to empower Internet sales processes. Imagine doing a test drive and deciding you like the car and the sales person is able to start the deal while you’re driving back to the dealership.
  • Design firms who are able to bring a table with a design application into a client’s office or home and enter dimensions then begin the design process on-site can significantly shortcut the design and approval process.
  • Universities that allow students to register from a smart phone app as well as the Internet-based processes they use today.

So while the App store approach is a neat tool, the real goal is looking at the business needs and how mobile can give them a competitive edge. IT typically won’t be
doing this alone. This requires a cross-functional approach between the lines of business, senior executive managers and IT management to look at the organizations pain points as well as strengths and weaknesses. Like any innovative approach, business associates often have an idea of the gaps they need filled by IT and by engaging and listening IT has proven time and time again that it can step up and instrument these needs. It just requires stepping away from day to day operations for some brainstorming with key stakeholders.

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Phyllis Drucker

Phyllis Drucker

Phyllis Drucker is a business process consultant at Linium. ITIL expert certified with over 20 years' experience in the disciplines and frameworks of IT Service Management as both a practitioner and consultant, she has also served the itSMF since 2004 in a variety of capacities including volunteer, board member and operations director of the US Chapter. She is a frequent contributor of knowledge to the ITSM profession, through numerous presentations, whitepapers and articles. Since 1997, her goal has been to advance the profession of ITSM leaders and practitioners worldwide by providing insight from her experiences on a wide variety of Service Management topics.