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HP Software's community for IT leaders // April 2013
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Take your IT team mobile—for real

Gearing up IT for the mobile era is about more than technology. It’s about people, culture, and collaborating with the business.
 
Everyone knows that mobility is changing—or has changed—the way consumers interact with business, and the way employees interact with their companies. Businesses need to change as well, and that means more than slapping a jerry-rigged mobile interface on legacy applications, and even more than integrating backend data and processes. Mobile changes the way businesses interact with people, and IT leaders need to change the way they approach IT.
 
The mobile era requires you to lead a fundamental change of your IT organization, from technologies and skills to culture and approach to the business as a whole. Your organization needs to think—and develop—mobile first. IT transformation projects, of which mobility is one, will be a critical focus of CIOs globally in 2013. According to a survey of IT leaders from 200 companies by C-suite advisory firm Corporate Executive Board, spending on mobile applications development will grow by 50 percent in 2013 to nearly 2 percent of total IT spend.
 
You can do this by reexamining and changing your IT organization and how it relates to the business:

  1. People: Do you have people in IT—and liaising between business and IT—who understand the demands and opportunities of mobility?
  2. Culture: Do you and your IT staffers have an entrepreneurial mindset to support the constant changes and new developments created by mobility?
  3. Skills:  Do you have adequate mobile skills in-house, or will you need to go outside?

Addressing these questions in some depth can help ensure that you’re really “going mobile,” and not just slapping a mobile interface on the same old applications and processes.

People: Faster, smarter, with a broader vision

Mobility has changed the way we interact with our personal devices, forcing us to learn new interfaces and functions—and forcing IT leaders to adopt new approaches to deliver those. It has become more likely that a business function like marketing, rather than IT, comes up with the idea for your next mobile offering. IT needs not only to catch up, but to offer leadership in a collaborative process of developing mobile opportunities by anticipating users’ mobile needs and interests. Your IT team must also be able to move fast, and embrace a culture of continuous learning.

Culture: Relate to LOBs, focus on innovation

Building for mobility requires a culture of continuous delivery and change. You’ll lose competitiveness—and frustrate users—if you apply traditional development processes for mobile apps. Mobile operating systems are updated frequently, and your dev teams must move quickly so your users take can advantage of new OS functions as they’re introduced. You must also be comfortable soliciting feedback and taking direction directly from your consumers, taking a community management approach to continuous improvement.
 
This doesn’t mean that every dev project needs to go Agile, but you must build in speed where mobile is concerned. You also need a culture that’s not risk-averse. Innovation is about continual incremental efforts—and a willingness to fail and reiterate quickly in pursuit of the edge that puts you ahead of your competitors.

Skills: Know how to get it done

And, bottom line, you need the skill sets to deliver mobility: developers who understand how to make mobile apps, ops teams that can handle continuous delivery and manage cloud-based services, and security that’s ready for a BYOD world. You and your IT staff need to be able to think in terms of business value, so you can deliver ideas and articulate IT’s value to the business.
 
Some of these skills may be sourced outside the organization—in the short term, you may even hire contract developers with the latest mobile skills—but make sure as you hire and invest in training that you’re focusing on mobility as a core asset.
 
According to Forrester, “CIOs should go beyond a myopic focus on employee mobile apps to also take on the role of business technology reformer and serve as the orchestral conductor for the firm’s broad portfolio of mobile apps and systems of engagement.”
 
Mobility provides you with a huge and exciting business opportunity. But you can’t support it with rigid legacy IT processes. Dig deeper into solutions to mobility challenges with the "Apps to Go" and "Mobile Application Monitoring Breeds Business Possibilities" white papers (reg. req’d).


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